How Zero-Based Thinking Can Help You Run Your Law Firm Better

Ever heard of zero-based thinking? It’s a term that floats around business meetings, motivational conferences and self-help programs—and with good reason. Zero-based thinking has the potential to help you make better decisions in pretty much every aspect of your life—including your law firm.

News flash: We all make mistakes. It’s statistically inevitable. We’re constantly tasked with making choices without being able to see the future or guess the outcome. In those cases, we’re just as likely to make wrong decisions as right ones. (In other words, we’re guessing.) Thus, the key to good decision making isn’t about having a perfect track record, because that’s impossible. Rather, it’s about learning from our mistakes. Course corrections are the key to success—not perfection. This is where zero-based thinking comes in.

What Is Zero-Based Thinking?

Zero-based thinking (or ZBT) is far less complicated than it sounds. It’s a thought process in which you go back in your mind to a point at which you made a certain decision (back to zero, if you will), look at what’s happened since then, and decide whether you would make the same choice today. In effect, you’re reverse-engineering the decision to figure out if it was a good one or bad one and allow the answer to inform your choices moving forward. The key question to ask: “If I knew then what I know now, would I have made the same decision?” If the answer is yes, you lean into your decision and move forward. If the answer is no, you make a course correction.

Some Examples

ZBT can create improvement in almost every aspect of life, from relationships to career choices—but for now, let’s apply it directly to a couple of situations you might commonly face in your law firm.

Example 1: Last year, you hired an employee who showed promise but had minimal experience. His performance since then has been a mixed bag of high points and missteps, but overall you’re concerned he may be affecting your law firm’s bottom line negatively. Since you now have a history to look at, ZBT asks the question: “Knowing what I know now, would I still have hired this person?” If you can honestly say yes, keep him on and continue working with him. If you say no—it may be time for a staff change.

Example 2: You implemented a new marketing strategy a few months ago, but even after testing and tweaking the process several times, your lead generation rates have been dismal, and you’ve gained barely enough clients to cover the marketing costs. ZBT asks: “Knowing what I know now, would I have used this strategy?” If the answer is no…rethink your marketing strategy.

Over time, zero-based thinking does more than just help you fix mistakes—it also re-trains your mind to learn from those mistakes. When you encounter similar situations in the future, you’ll be able to make smarter choices at the “zero point,” rather than after the fact, because you’ll be better able to predict the outcomes. For more hands-on guidance in amplifying your law firm’s success, call our offices today at 888-207-2869.

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