Vice President of Pitney Bowes Legal Solutions Stephen Whetstone talks about the meaning of innovation and what it takes to embody it.
As Steve Jobs once famously said, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." Is it any surprise that so many of us spend an inordinate amount of time and money on the quest to innovation? Yet, many of us fail to ask ourselves what this means to us as an organization and to the customers we serve. We sat down with one of our featured speakers at the DOCUMENT Strategy Forum, Stephen Whetstone, to discuss this very idea. As vice president and leader of Pitney Bowes Legal Solutions (PBLS), Stephen oversees 1,500+ employees who work hand-in-hand each day with PBLS clients. With an extensive litigation background in e-discovery developments and best practices, Stephen talked with DOCUMENT Media about his ideas of innovation, how executive can stay on top and the companies that are doing it right.
Q: What does innovation mean to you?
A: As a former patent litigator, in my mind, innovation is largely synonymous with the basic requirements of patentability—that is, whether a product or process is novel, useful and nonobvious. In other words, does an "innovation" truly add significant new value, or is it merely a marginal improvement? Virtual distributed workflows, data classification and predictive coding are a few recent innovations that are transforming the way that businesses design and deliver their document management programs.
Q: What company in your experience is doing it right, and why?
A: I've been consistently impressed by how JPMorgan Chase has approached legal document and data management challenges. Several years ago, JPMorgan Chase was one of the first companies to recognize the extraordinary inefficiencies and risks inherent in relying entirely on outside litigation counsel to design, build and manage all facets of the legal document discovery process. So, the bank hired a team of legal, technology and process subject matter experts, who wrested control over traditional and tired litigation management approaches, first, by building significant in-house discovery capabilities and operations and, later, by load balancing the amount of work they tackle in-house versus dole out to third-party providers and outside counsel. Both paradigms leverage repeatable, measurable and efficient processes and continuous improvement. That same team also was an early adopter of engaging overseas business process outsource (BPO) providers to augment their in-house and third-party provider programs, driving even greater efficiencies and best practices.
"A gigabyte of prevention is worth a terabyte of cure."
Q: What would you advise CEOs to put at the top of their priority list?
A: Countless companies have stumbled because they were not prepared for the current data deluge, especially from a legal and compliance perspective. The inadvertent or intentional destruction of relevant data, the discovery of "smoking gun" emails, computer hacking and identity theft or quality control failures in reviewing mortgage applications are all examples of process and technology breakdowns. These lapses can result in court-imposed sanctions and case losses, huge remediation costs and significant damage to company brands. To avoid them from occurring, companies must design, build and consistently manage compliant records and information (RIM) programs, which requires a top-down and ongoing organizational commitment—starting with the CEO. The message must be clear: The company will not tolerate such lapses and, so, will invest in better technologies and more transparent processes and hire and train personnel that are capable of effectively managing a compliant RIM program. A gigabyte of prevention is worth a terabyte of cure.
Q: What was the best management advice you ever received in your career, and why?
A: I've received a lot of great advice from several extraordinary and diverse leaders over the course of my career in politics and government, legal practice, technology and business management, and so, it really is hard to call out one as the "best." That said, one of my favorites is, "Make someone else the hero," whether during a meeting, pursuant to a project or client deliverable or in connection with a written report or memorandum. Consciously turning the spotlight away from yourself and onto your teammates engenders extraordinary goodwill, motivation and results.