It feels like the WorldCC and Factor are doing me a personal favor in collecting critical data for my ongoing series on value storytelling. But I am not a solipsist. To the benefit of us all, they are seeking different perspectives on business value, including taking the vital step of asking the business itself. Please go here to take their high-impact survey and/or share the link with the appropriate audience:

There are multiple stakeholders In the Commercial and Contract Management (CCM) process who must collaborate effectively to drive value and eradicate friction. This survey, aimed at Business and Legal practitioners involved in the CCM process, will provide you with unique insights into how each group perceives the value and benefits received and the value and benefits given. You will see the position today and the desired state to deliver maximum benefit in the future. In this ground-breaking research, World Commerce and Contracting is partnering with Factor, a market leader in Legal Managed Services, to explore how business and legal functions interact while performing CCM.

We invite you to contribute to this survey. Your responses will be confidential and documented in a way that ensures they are not attributable. It will take you less than 10 minutes to complete, and you will receive a copy of the resulting report.

While I have been sidetracked as of late (see here and here), I will continue the value storytelling series soon. My thesis thus far:

Legal expertise is valuable to the enterprise. Demand is on steep upward trajectory. Budgets are failing to keep pace. We must optimize resource allocation and innovate—enhance productivity through process and tech. But, while innovation and optimization are key elements in our value story, we are still likely to need more money for the legal function to meet the needs of the business at scale and pace. Service levels are inextricably tied to resource levels—including the resources required to invest in innovation and optimization.

It is, literally, our job to ensure the legal aspects of business needs are met. Thus, it is also our job to secure sufficient resources for the legal function. Obtaining finite resources inside an enterprise carries substantial opportunity costs (alternative value the business could pursue with the same money) and therefore requires expert value storytelling, a learned skill in which few legal professionals are practiced.

The business defines “value.” Yet the number one complaint among the legal function’s business stakeholders is in-house lawyers “don’t understand my business.” Understanding—mastering our own context—is essential. We should be capable of framing our ask for incremental resources in the language and metrics of the business. Centering the creation, and preservation, of business value in our narrative is the core of value storytelling.

Business value is context-dependent, not unknowable. Conversations around the business value of, say, accelerating speed-to-revenue demand a different framing, and often has a different audience, than conversations around the business of value of complying with new privacy regulations. We should know our audience and develop the attendant abilities to calibrate messaging for maximum resonance with specific sets of business stakeholders.

Being aligned with the business, however, does not spare us from making hard choices and having hard conversations as to what constitutes value. Though it pains our service-loving souls, it incumbent upon us to prioritize activities by business impact and artfully say “no” when asked to handle deprioritized work. We should, however, capitalize on each “no” as an opportunity to build our story that additional legal resources are required to address unmet business needs.

Yet, instead of a more-with-more value proposition, we too often default to savings-centric tropes valorizing more-with-less heroics reliant on extraordinary effort and improvisational ingenuity to bridge resource gaps (excess MacGyverism). Stories about savings are easy because they are counterproductive—reinforcing the attractive fiction that the business can, and should, spend less on legal. Good value storytelling is anything but easy for the same reason it is necessary—the hallmark of successful advocacy is not a penchant for combative argumentation but, rather, our ability to persuade those who need persuading.