Blog Post

Why data analytics and human creativity are the perfect MashUp

November 25, 2019

We wanted to blow the assumptions about data analytics, creativity and legal out of the water. And that’s exactly what we did at our recent  Exigent Mashup held recently at The Chicago House of Blues, where art and music meet!

The mentality that it’s either data or creativity, right brain or left brain, legal or business, is outdated, old fashioned and the key to a short corporate lifespan. That’s according to our keynote speaker, Dr. Crystal Morrison, founder of EverRise.

She pointed out that of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955 almost 90% of them have gone. Since 2000 over half (52%) have gone. Some have merged; some have fallen off the 500 list; but most have gone. Blockbuster, Kodak and the rest of these companies failed to innovate, understand and embrace change.

And it’s this kind of change that the legal sector is undergoing now when it comes to embracing technology, data, and creativity. That is the key point, according to Morrison; it’s not data or creativity, right or left brain – it’s data and creativity, right brain and left brain, legal and business.

But how to step out of our traditionalist mentality and embrace these changes? And, even if as leaders we embrace change, how can we penetrate this ‘and’ perspective throughout our organizations?

One theme throughout the MashUp was the importance of team diversity and human analytics. To survive, it’s vital to challenge our perception of people and ideas, especially when data and context are available, to help us overcome complex challenges and truly develop innovative ideas.

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The fusion of analytics, data, and creativity to impact how we work, with whom we work and on what projects, to create diverse teams is the secret to innovation and leadership, Morrison told the packed room. And law firms are already seeing how combining case information with HR data can help them make decisions on resource allocation based on the interdependencies of their practice areas or departments, and the skills of their individuals. This creates greater efficiencies, more profitable clients and more satisfied teams.

And it’s not just confined to legal Tanisha CheaVice President of Global Innovation at Krispy Kreme, and another MashUpspeaker, talked about how the donut-maker uses cross-functional teams as a vital ingredient to its innovation process.

Krispy Kreme asks employees about interests and analyzes attitudes and aptitudes to gauge how people will work together as a team and what projects are best suited for each group dynamic. Chea uses human data and analytics to optimize her teams for successful outcomes.

Some law firms are already using human analytics to discover how to architect the most profitable teams or see what team dynamics are most applicable to different types of cases, according to previous case history and specialties. That’s the point about data, creativity, and analytics; the applications are endless.

One thing that was evident during our panel debates was that although the lawyers, CEOs, and CXOs in the room were open to the “mashing-up” of data and creativity, the reality of combining them was proving a challenge. During one lively panel discussion, it emerged that many lawyers don’t realize how much data they have. Companies understand the concept of CTO and CIO, but because chief data officers are few and far between, many don’t see data as an asset. The answer, according to one panelist: start thinking how to make money out of it, that’s when most legal firms realize they are data-rich.

Although prolific use of data analytics within law firms is still in its infancy, Exigent CEO, David Holme pointed out that in the personal injury space, data analytics, and in particular predictive analytics, is in practice and working. Data analytics in mass torts takes medical data and predicts ideal case selection, helping law firms manage costs, increase efficiencies and better advise clients.

Another challenge, noted throughout the day, isn’t just around the data. Human behavior and legal expertise are experiential by nature – someone has to have had experience of a similar case or litigation before any reaction can be given – and changing this behavior from instinct to insight is fundamental to success.

This, according to Morrison, is what prevents the ‘and’ scenario of data and creativity, right and left brain, and what drives confirmatory analytics where organizations just ask the questions to which they already know the answers, preventing innovation, and confirming the status quo.