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CMS introduces ‘Innovation Hours’ to enhance culture of innovation

12 December 2019

In an effort to reward and drive innovation throughout the business, CMS UK today announces the launch of ‘Innovation Hours’ – a new initiative aimed at rewarding innovation efforts targeted at improving the business and enhancing the services it delivers to clients. 

As part of the initiative, CMS lawyers can now count hours spent on approved innovation projects towards their billed hours target. 

The launch of Innovation Hours follows the success of #hacks, CMS’ ideas sharing portal, built on Crowdicity, that openly encourages, incentivises and develops new ideas from everyone in the firm. Inspired by a #hack from an associate in the firm’s Dispute Resolution team, Innovation Hours aims to turn innovation into a business priority for all.

Stephen Millar, Managing Partner at CMS UK, comments:Innovation is built into both the structure and strategy of our firm and we’re committed to setting a new standard in legal innovation. We’ve had overwhelming engagement from our people following the launch of #hacks and have seen first-hand that nurturing innovation pays dividends. We want to build a culture of innovation across CMS that is practical, accessible and valued. A big part of this is encouraging and recognising the effort that everyone puts into making things better. Innovation Hours is an investment in this central component of our culture, bringing with it a welcome update on what billed hours targets represent for the firm.”

Modus, CMS’ performance framework, already promotes and rewards innovation; with the phrase “we innovate” being one of seven core behaviours that contribute towards CMS’ definition of strong performance. The intention behind Innovation Hours is to build on this existing focus by directly rewarding time spent on innovation projects.

John Craske, Head of Innovation & Legal Operations at CMS UK, explains: “One of our business promises is to give our people the tools, information and support to make innovation real. Innovation Hours will do exactly that, as well as offering a new way to recognise the valuable time it takes to turn an idea into reality. Together with #hacks, Innovation Hours will play an important role in unlocking Research and Development activity from across the business, fundamentally strengthening the firm’s output of innovative services, technology and behaviours to the benefit of our clients.”

CMS has designed a framework to shape Innovation Hours projects. In order to obtain approval, projects will need to:

  • Have a clear business benefit in mind – think about Innovation Hours as Research and Development activity. The request should include the hypothesis or idea that the project intends to prove and give an indication of the business benefits.
  • Be sponsored and supported – the sponsor’s role is to provide encouragement as well as holding the team working on the project to account on progress and budget.
  • Be approved by the team – each application for an Innovation Hours project will be reviewed for approval by the Innovation Team, with input from the person who applied and the sponsor. 
  • Be managed and tracked – once approved, the Innovation Team will work with the applicant to make sure that there is a plan in place to get the project going, including making sure that each project has someone responsible for managing it and providing updates to the Innovation Team.
  • Be something above what is expected in Modus – Innovation Hours are to recognise time spent working on innovation projects with a clear business benefit that go above and beyond the innovation activity expected of everyone under CMS’ performance framework.
  • Be within sensible time/cost boundaries – Innovation Hours will normally be considered for projects between 5 and 100 hours-worth of effort. 
  • Be within budget – this will be set at the start of the project and can be revised only with approval. 

All projects submitted for Innovation Hours will be overseen by the CMS Innovation Team. The cost of Innovation Hours will be borne by a central research and development budget, empowering practice groups to commit their people’s time to innovation projects.