Christopher Thurn, founder of legal management technology company, Alacrity Law, looks at how being more open can benefit your business
Before my switch to legal technology, I worked in finance and experienced first hand how a lack of transparency can tarnish a reputation and even erode trust across a whole industry. The 2008 global banking crisis is an example of how a lack of transparency can impact the entire world, and result in businesses collapsing and markets crashing. Eleven years on, we have learnt that transparency is vital in helping to mould a company’s culture, enhancing customer and employee loyalty and gaining enough trust to win new business.
I founded Alacrity Law because I believe that transparency can enhance business partnerships and, in particular, the way clients and their external law firms work together. A lack of transparency – from why a law firm was chosen, through to budgets, costs and even measuring results – means that it’s extremely hard to hold law firms to account for the value they deliver. Without accountability, it’s impossible to know which firms are providing great service and which are falling behind. Our platform enables companies to view, monitor and evaluate their law firms, which not only creates trust, but strengthens the relationship between the client and their firms. This has helped drive productivity and better decision making, and I now have no doubt that transparency, honesty and integrity should underpin every business’ core values.
However, there are risks. Being transparent in business is not about letting people know what’s in your bank account, or enabling your competitors to find out about your new product developments or the prospects you are talking to. A balance needs to be achieved – so how can you be open, without giving everything away.
1. Set your boundaries
Be clear about what you and your employees should be talking about in the public domain. If it is sensitive information then get people to sign a confidentiality agreement. Carefully think through how you want to be perceived in the market and don’t forget to shout about your successes.
2. Be open minded about communicating
Look at different ways of communicating with your employees, customers and other stakeholders. Newsletters and the like just aren’t as effective as they used to be. Channels like social media, can provide a great window into your business and culture. There are also sites like Glassdoor, which provide ‘real reviews’ from employees and will often commend business leaders who endorse transparency.
3. Be responsive
In a world of instant news we need to be responsive. Social media and customers’ demands mean that we have to answer people’s questions timely and coherently. If we take too long it will breed an air of secrecy or even contempt. Customers come first, there’s rarely anything more important than serving them.
4. Help everyone feel included
Treating every member of your team as an important part of your success helps everyone feel involved and responsible for the outcome of the business. It means that you should listen carefully to everyone and try to understand their perspectives. Invite feedback and comments from employees and customers and then make sure you take action and prove that their contribution had value!
5. Always strive for improvement
Being transparent also means that we should be aware of our failings. If something hasn’t worked, don’t hide it. Look at ways where you can improve communications, get your employees more involved and understand how to do better next time.
Christopher Thurn is the founder of Alacrity, a legal technology platform that provides corporates with a more effective way to select, manage and evaluate outside counsel. He founded Alacrity after experiencing first hand just how opaque the legal market is during his banking career. Alacrity’s platform helps to bring transparency to the industry, benefitting both clients and their legal service providers.
Prior to Alacrity, Christopher was an investment banker specialising in equity derivatives and convertible bonds. He started his investment banking career at Jefferies before co-founding ISM Capital, a boutique investment bank which was sold to Stifel Financial Corporation in 2016. At Stifel he was a managing director and the head of convertibles outside of the US. Christopher graduated from the London School of Economics with a BSc in economics.
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.