Leadership, Design Thinking, Hiring, and the Future of the Professions | Scott Westfahl, Harvard Law

The Strategy Sphere podcast — brought to you by Intapp — features interviews with leading experts in academia, innovation, and business. Our hosts are Lavinia Calvert, who leads the global marketing and business development solutions business at Intapp, and Deborah Farone, a marketing strategy consultant and author. In each episode, Calvert and Farone explore today’s world of professional services marketing, leadership, innovation, and education.

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In episode 11 of Season One, Calvert and Farone spoke with Professor Scott Westfahl, Director of Harvard Law School’s Executive Education Program. Westfahl also teaches courses on leadership, design thinking, and innovation within the law school’s JD curriculum.

Westfahl discussed how teaching has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and how Harvard University is gathering its talent to foster new and agile ways of engaging students in the classroom. Westfahl himself offers new and innovative ways to utilize technology and creativity in order to engage professional audiences, including the global leadership programs he runs for law firm managing partners and other leaders.

Westfahl additionally gave a mini-course in design thinking during the episode, explaining how to reformulate problems and locate new solutions through brainstorming and outside-the-envelope ideation.

He also covered the value of networks, pointing to recent studies that show the impact of widescale networks to help locate resources, widen contacts, and solve problems on the highest level. Finally, Westfahl discussed how to design an in-house training program, and detailed the game-changing steps that can make the difference in hiring and retaining talent.

We highlighted our top takeaways from our discussion with Westfahl:

  • Most opportunities for business come not from whom we know directly; instead, it’s often the second- or third-level contacts of of our direct connections.
  • In professional services organizations, those in senior roles take on management responsibilities but still handle clients. The producer/manager dilemma is real, and the current system requires thought and recalibration.

Leaders of teams need to communicate constantly. Ambiguous information or a lack of information will generally be referred to as negative. As Westfahl says, “As an organization, you cannot overcommunicate. You need to be transparent.”

Featured Guest

Scott Westfahl

Professor of Practice and Faculty Director of Executive Education

Harvard Law School

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