“Our partners were our guinea pigs”: Eversheds Sutherland launches crowdsourcing ideas app

Eversheds Sutherland has become the latest law firm to embrace crowdsourcing for ideas, rolling out innovation platform IdeaDrop across its 66 offices in 32 countries. IdeaDrop is a mobile and web app developed to help capture and curate ideas from employees.
“Following our combination in 2017, we have been looking for a platform that enabled everyone in the firm to collaborate, no matter where they are. And specifically, a collaboration tool that enabled us to implement the good ideas that flow from that,” said Susan Chick, the digital programme manager responsible for the project. “This isn’t just about the lawyers. It is about everyone in the business. We don’t believe there is a hierarchy on good ideas.”
Chick believes that the most exciting ideas that will be generated from the platform will be those that directly impact clients. “The small, incremental changes may well be inward looking. But the really big, revolutionary changes will be those that affect the way we work with clients.”
IdeaDrop was initially piloted with partners in June. “Our partners were our guinea pigs, which was interesting,” Chick said. “We learned a lot from that process. In particular, the need to create specific roles amongst our people.”
Eversheds Sutherland has introduced innovation leaders and curators across all divisions to make the project work, tailoring the off-the-shelf product to suits its particular needs. These individuals have extended access and early adopter training and are responsible for rallying their teams to get involved.
Each team has committed to a monthly half our Innovation Review meeting to discuss ideas emerging from the initiative. “The curators are responsible for that. Their role is bringing ideas to life,” said Chick. “So we have curators chasing partners for a response to an idea. It is a real leveller.”
Similar to other social media platforms, IdeaDrop allows users to ‘drop an idea’ which other users can comment on, share, like and rate.  Users can also ‘drop a challenge’ when there is a specific need or issue which would benefit from a crowdsourced solution. Ideas are monitored to ensure the best ones are captured and actioned.
Other firms to launch an ideas platform include Herbert Smith Freehills, which has been recognised for the success of The Vision Lab – a platform on which employees can anonymously and in real time put forward ideas that they would like to see the firm action.
Its roll out, which falls under the ‘innovation and technology’ pillar of HSF’s ‘Beyond 2020’ strategy, was a way to engage with its circa 4,700 staff across the globe and speaking to Legal IT Insider in 2017 chief operating officer Nicole Bamforth said: “I felt this was an opportunity for everyone to participate in our strategy and build a culture of innovation across the firm.”