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Interaction is the Precursor to Action

About Charles Drayson

Charles is a UK lawyer who has used document automation for 20 years. He has worked for large law firms, corporate legal teams, and has automated legal and non-legal documents. He writes for Legito to share his passion for using automation to get work done. “I get a kick out of creating good content and seeing it used repeatedly and reliably by colleagues without fuss and bother”.

Charles Drayson

Mar 3 · 5 min read

Charles Drayson

Mar 9 · 3 min read

Without inspiration, interaction and action, we achieve nothing

The Legito PowerUp conference in June is all about inspiration, interaction and action. After almost two years working from home, I’m looking forward to some interaction. As I write this piece, I sit in our local coffee place. The coffee’s much better than I can make at home, but I’m also here for the vibe. I’ve been here about 15 minutes, and I’ve had a chat with an old client about his forthcoming ski trip, and there’s a nearby booth with four people talking business. Without inspiration, interaction and action, we achieve nothing. This is a bit of a rant about interaction and action in the world of contract negotiation. More specifically, it’s a rant about what happens if organisations leave no room for interaction.

“When you insist on ‘standard’, you take away the fruits of interaction.”

“When you insist on ‘standard’, you take away the fruits of interaction.”

It’s your way or no way. That works when you sell standard stuff, you trade at scale, and there’s neither value nor ability to facilitate any interaction outside your marketing machine. If your business has sales or procurement teams at the heart of most deals, you implicitly recognise that deals need to be oiled by interaction. You rely on their human input.

It’s your way or no way

Last week, I had a request from a company that wanted to implement a contract management system and update their contract templates. Great, I can do that. But, there’s a hitch: their stated objective was to create ‘watertight contracts’ (and presumably a watertight process to implement them). After 30 years as a lawyer working on commercial contracts, it’s still beyond my ability to create a watertight contract. If I could draft one, it would be beyond my client’s ability to get every customer to accept it. They trade in a sector where customers also have views about such things. Still, some organisations orient their procurement, commercial and legal teams to achieve such contract utopia.

“The false premise is that standardised contracts and procedures will be more efficient, less risky, and easier to manage (better, cheaper, faster).”

“The false premise is that standardised contracts and procedures will be more efficient, less risky, and easier to manage (better, cheaper, faster).”

We need tailored contracts, not standard contracts

We need fewer organisations imposing standard contracts and procedures, and more organisations equipping their sales and procurement teams to have interaction within the boundaries of prudence and compliance. We need tailored contracts, not standard contracts. We need systems that augment, not dominate. Don’t configure a contract management system that assumes all deals are identical.

“If all deals are identical, you don’t even need a contract management system – use a spreadsheet and a central diary.”

“If all deals are identical, you don’t even need a contract management system – use a spreadsheet and a central diary.”

There’s another reason why it’s impractical to impose standard documents and processes. To illustrate the issue, consider the OneNDA scheme. More than 500 well-known companies have said they are fed up messing around reviewing NDAs. They have adopted a standard NDA (free for anyone to use) together with materials to show the document is legally sound. I am the Commercial Director of a software company (not Legito), where I adopted OneNDA. Alas, every time I get asked for an NDA, I have been unable to use OneNDA. Instead, we invariably find that a legal or procurement team insist on using their standard text – many of which are poorly drafted, archaic and make no attempt even slightly to tailor the document for the project. Some of those organisations insisting on their ‘standard’ NDA obviously copied their clunky document from somewhere else – I can see the original author’s name in the metadata – have they no shame!

What does this tell me about standard documents? They are too often created without any real thought about what purpose they serve, and they demonstrate that an organisation views documents as mere checklist items with no care about what they say. They have evolved because it was seemingly too difficult to do the job any other way.

Our biggest competition is apathy

When we sell tools that support the production of tailored documents, our biggest competition is not other vendors. Our biggest competition is apathy. That’s why I’m so looking forward to meeting people at Legito PowerUp who recognise that interaction is the precursor to action, people who value their customers, suppliers and employees to spare them the drudge of imposing rigid, mediocre documents and systems.

Get inspired to create and manage documents in a more human-centric way.

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