The Ultimate Guide to Legal Operations: Part F

GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map

by GLS GROUP July 02, 2020

abstract tube map

“You are on a journey to transform your legal department. Use a map to optimise the route that you take on that journey

Facing down planning intimidation

IHL Transformation is, for most IHL leaders, a trip into the unknown – and decisions taken from a position of ignorance, is something that this Guide is specifically trying to prevent.

As we saw in Part E, transformation projects can be perceived as carrying significant personal risk.

The wrong transformation recommendation or decision can be costly financially, reputationally and professionally, but these risks are outweighed only by the risks inherent to doing nothing.

Three of the most intimidating challenges associated with planning your legal operations agenda includes: telescope 2

• understanding what an optimally performing IHL actually looks like;

• understanding how your IHL is performing compared to such an optimised team; and

• deciding where to actually start your transformation journey.

Fortunately, GLS now makes addressing these 3 critical questions far less intimidating than ever before We are giving you a department wide perspective of an optimally performing IHL.

The GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map

Any visitor to London understands that navigating that large and complex city is made significantly easier by the clear simplicity of the “Tube Map”.

By working on thousands of transformation projects, GLS has been able to identify 15 critical in-house processes (each an “IHL Line”) that cover the full spectrum of essential functions inherent to an optimally performing IHL.

The GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map presents a highly visual and interactive representation of each IHL Line and their associated critical resource elements (each an “IHL Station)”.

In this one diagram you can see an entire world class legal department. You can see the essential components that make up each function and how each component and function relates to every other component and function.

In so doing, the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map provides a powerful reference resource that can be used to assess IHL performance and to blue print an IHL transformation agenda.

The 15 IHL Lines featured on the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map are: 

Tube lines 3

How can the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map help you?


Harnessing the Power of Comparison

The GLS Transformation Tube Map allows you to harness the power of “comparison” to more efficiently make sense of what is needed for you to successfully implement an effective IHL transformation agenda. 

Comparison or contrasting is the act of evaluating two or more things by determining the relevant characteristics of each thing, and then assessing the existence of differences between those characteristics and if difference is present, to what degree.

Where characteristics are different, the differences may be evaluated to determine which thing is best suited for a particular purpose (i.e. to formulate an action plan that works best for your organisation).

Specifically, the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map provides a user-friendly reference framework that helps IHLs to visualise:

1. Essential IHL processes: allowing you to visualise on a “whole of department” basis, the essential infrastructure / processes that invariably exist inside an optimally performing IHL function for reference purposes;

2. Comparative performance: allowing you to quickly glean deep performance insights by simply comparing your IHL’s existing infrastructure, processes and performance against the referenced “world-class IHL team”;

3. Critical process gaps: allowing you to quickly and objectively assess any essential infrastructure gaps within your IHL, or indeed within a particular IHL process, that are preventing optimised performance levels;

idea bulb

4. Performance enhancement points: allowing you to quickly identify what are the points in a particular process that can be prioritise in order to achieve the greatest performance enhancement and provide reasoned justification for resourcing the same;

5. IHL process interdependencies: allowing you to understand the critical elements that make up each IHL process and the key interdependencies between the various IHL processes present in your IHL environment. Thereby allowing you to start adjusting specific IHL elements to achieve and enhance “end to end” IHL performance; 

6. Vital process shapers: allowing you to identify which IHL elements inside each process tend to dictate the overall performance of that process, and which can therefore be focussed on and leveraged to deliver the greatest “productivity ripple effect” across that process, and indeed across the entire department;

7. Logical starting points: allowing you to effectively assess where are the best points in your IHL ecosystem to commence your transformation work on, by reference to efficiency, existing workloads and your organisation’s ability to process change;

8. Common performance elements: allowing you to identify the IHL elements that appear most frequently across multiple IHL processes, and which therefore represent valuable intervention points as they can deliver “productivity ripple effects” throughout the entire IHL;

9. Legal technology pathways: allowing you to build up an improved vision of how legal technology works across essential IHL pathways and to factor such insights into your overall legal technology strategy; and

10. Your transformation journey: allowing you to identify, break down, prioritise and plan your IHL transformation journey in the most efficient manner.

For the rest of this Guide, we will utilise the lexicon of the GLS Transformation Tube Map and cast our more detailed observations in terms of “IHL Lines” and “IHL Stations”.

Key Observations As You Start Using the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map

View Your Matrix

The GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map allows you to visualise all that is important to a legal team by reference to the IHL Lines and IHL Stations that enable them. matrix

Obviously, the importance of certain IHL Lines might vary from IHL to IHL, but all IHL Lines are likely present to some extent, and collectively will cover all aspects of performance in a world class IHL.

As you travel down each “IHL Line” we encourage you to perform a mental self-audit of your own IHL team and simply ask yourself just how much of your IHL do you recognise inside of the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map.

Critical Functions Only

One of the keys to effective legal operations is to not spend time on anything that is not critical or that cannot be reported. This is a fundamental tenet of the GLS “Finite Resource Theory” – you must make all your available resources count.

As such, the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map only focuses on the 15 IHL Lines that we believe cover the “essential activities” inherent to the “domain of responsibility” of most IHLs.

When viewing the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map, if you see a function that your team performs but which is not expressly noted then it may be that:

• it may be captured by the activities that we have associated with an existing IHL Station; critical functions only

• the activity itself falls outside of those core activities that the “typical IHL” is typically responsible for; or

• it is not an activity that is truly critical to adding direct value to the business.

If you feel strongly that we have missed a “core activity” please do send your feedback to – we are always looking to build our knowledge base of the IHL industry, and so would very much welcome any and all constructive feedback.

Again, if an initiative is not truly meaningful (i.e. it does not directly contribute to the realisation of a mission critical requirement of the business), then it is not important enough for you to be focusing on.

Formative Stations

On most IHL Lines, there is typically an HL Station in whose light most other IHL Stations on that line will bask – we call them “Formative Stations”.

The Formative Stations are without doubt the most important critical transformation points on each Line. Their qualitative status will directly impact the quality of all other IHL Stations on that line and the performance of the entire IHL Line itself.

Put another way – a IHL Line can only ever perform to the standards and quality set by its Formative Station. As such, we have highlighted each “Formative Station” with this symbol: 

Foundation Station Star

From a transformation planning perspective, Formative Stations are the first and most essential areas to be addressed if you want to optimise all other IHL Stations along the relevant IHL Lines.

If you do not focus on your Formative Stations first and with maximum attention, you will unnecessarily, and unavoidably throttle the performance potential of the entire IHL Line.

For example, if you do not first develop a definitive “Contracting Policy” (i.e. the parameters in which you will contract) you deprive countless other IHL Stations on the Contracting Line of the critical data they need to perform optimally.

In the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map, click on the “Formative Stations” button to instantly highlight the Formative Stations on each IHL Line.

In Part G, we profile a number of Formative Stations and demonstrate their importance to overall IHL Line performance to emphasise how and why they are the ideal starting point for IHL Transformation.

Related Resource: See our White Paper on Contracting Policy impacts on overall contracting efficiency

Related Resource: Click “Formative Stations” on the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map 

Repeater Stations

Certain IHL Stations are present across multiple IHL Lines and for the purposes of our Legal Transformation Tube Map, we call these common elements “Repeater Stations”.

Repeater Stations are indicated with a:

Repeater station star

Sometimes a Repeater Station may also be a Formative Station, and where this is the case they are marked as both Repeater and Formative Stations.

From a transformation point of view, Repeater Stations, if optimised, offer the potential to improve multiple IHL Lines at the same time, thereby, delivering a “multiplier” effect to your IHL transformation work.

A great example of “Repeater Station” is the Group Legal Policy. Apart from being “Formative”, it is an important recurring IHL element on many IHL Lines – it is somewhat similar to “carbon”, whilst there are countless lifeforms on this planet, carbon is an inherent element to all of them.

Repeater Stations can be instantly identified on the GLS Transformation Tube Map at the click of the “Repeater Station” button.

Related Resource: Click “Repeater Stations” on the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map 

Spend Time on the Tube

Explore the GLS Transformation Tube Map as much as you wish. If you want to learn more about any particular IHL Line/Station – please do also feel free book a Free Consultation with us here.

The Map is, by its nature, very detailed but that is not something to be intimidated by.

You can simply "click" the button of, the IHL Line that most interests you and travel it down it, at your leisure, in a natural and intuitive way. Tube lines 3

In Part G: Preparing You Legal Operations Agenda, we provide in depth details of certain IHL Station level considerations that are necessary to optimise those IHL Stations.

This will help you formulate Station specific optimisation plans.

GLS, through the GLS Legal Operation Centre, also provides instant access to the infrastructure, tools and resources required to implement/optimise each IHL Station along your transformation journey.

In the next section, we will transfer our focus to one of the most challenging questions IHL leaders face when they approach IHL Transformation, namely “where should we start?”

Four Logical Starting Points For Your IHL Transformation

The GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map helps you plan a tailored transformation journey that reflects your business priorities and resources.

The GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map will also help you to make and explain to your stakeholders the logical basis for your decisions. laptop rocket

In deciding where and how you should start your IHL Transformation journey, our work shows that there are actually a limited number of very “most effective starting points” from which to choose.

What this means is that far from being a really intimidating decision, there are “clear footprints in the sand” for your IHL to follow as you pursue a successful IHL transformation agenda.

We have identified the four most logical starting points as follows:

Starting Point No. 1: The Burning House Approach

Every GC will have an instinct as to what the underlying business would most like to see by way of improved support from the IHL team and this could provide a useful “indication” of where to start your IHL Transformation.

The “burning house” is typically an IHL function (or part thereof) that is in dire need of attention and is routinely the source/cause of sub-optimal feedback from the business.

The “burning house” is simply something that, if you do not get fixed quickly, will soon cause worse consequences. In short the “burning house” is something that you know you need to get fixed. Burning house 2

Feedback from the business such as “I wish we had

“A system that automated every aspect of legal support”; or 

“A more responsive legal team”,

are good examples of non-specific business preferences that do not present viable transformation focus points - they are not “burning houses” per se.

However, feedback such as “we keep losing potential customers as it takes too long to engage with us. Why can’t we have a single set of approved contracts that can actually be agreed in the form we send them out in?” would be a good example of something that needs rapid attention.

Note that almost all “burning house” issues can be reduced to specific IHL Lines or a single IHL Station - i.e. it is an issue that is capable of articulation and optimisation in an efficient fashion.

To work out what your potential “burning house” issues are, you can reflect on the negative feedback received from your internal clients over the past few years and map it against the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map.

Where the underlying issues is not immediately obvious, you just need to ask yourself “Within which IHL Station(s) does that issue reside?” - the correct transformation focal point will have made itself known.

Starting Point No. 2: Formative Stations First

Foundations house-1

Given the importance of Formative Stations and their indelible impact on all aspects of their respective IHL Lines, they represent excellent IHL Transformation starting points. 

Indeed, as you apply R.P.L.V. Decision Making to a decision to focus/improve a “Formative Station”, you will see just how neatly they meet all of the key criteria for a well justified transformation focal point.

As such, a transformation “golden rule” is that any work on any IHL Line should start with its Formative Station(s), particularly, if you want to:

realise the maximum performance potential possible of that IHL Line; and

achieve the greatest time, cost and quality efficiencies.

When you review the GLS Legal Transformation Map, the obviousness of the above observations becomes readily apparent. You will recognise the “influential” potential of each and every Formative Station.

You don’t build a house by starting with the roof or the walls – you have to first lay down the foundations of the house you want and it will be those foundations that determine the performance parameters/characteristics of that house.

This infallible principle of IHL Transformation is also the basis upon which you can perform “rapid performance diagnostics” on any individual IHL Line – i.e. something that doesn’t require you to test each and every Station.

By way of a simplified analogy - have you ever noticed that a doctor tests your blood pressure, heart rate, weight, lungs, eyes and ears regardless of what you are visiting them for?

Well, it is because, with these 6 simple tests a doctor can quickly and reliably ascertain the “general health” of your body – these foundational tests deliver a particularly accurate overview of bodily health.

Similar principles apply to IHL Transformation – by running simple diagnostics on your “Formative Stations” you can, in relatively short order, assess the overall condition of an individual IHL Line or your IHL as a whole.

Regardless of which IHL Line you want to work on first, a good starting point is to carefully assess the quality of the applicable Formative Station(s) and if needed, bring that Formative Station up to an optimal level.

Starting Point No. 3: The Line-By-Line Approach

For IHLs with more resources, taking on an “entire IHL Line” approach can, subject to the application of R.P.L.V. decision making, make a great deal of sense, starting of course with the Formative Stations. 

Typically, tackling a line-by-line approach reflects the presence of one or more of the following factors being present inside your IHL ecosystem:

• IHL Transformation has been briefed in as a specific project / goal for the IHL by the Board;

• a new IHL leader has been appointed and is looking to make their mark, quickly and substantially, on the performance of the IHL function; abstract tube map

• the IHL is under specific instructions to deliver rapid and demonstrable change;

• the IHL needs to look at IHL Line process optimisation as part of an organisation wide digitisation drive;

• a global IHL legal team is looking to demonstrate process enhanced success by upgrading an entire IHL Line and piloting it in a particular region; or

• the IHL supports business units whose support need can be significantly met through process standardisation.

Implementing a line-by-line approach allows you to demonstrate how the sum of all parts in a process delivers exponentially greater performance.

If done correctly, the line-by-line approach tends to garner increasing numbers of internal supporters for an accelerated transformation agenda.

If considering the “line-by-line” approach do however note that some lines will deliver a far “higher” R.P.L.V. score than others and should therefore be targeted earlier on in your overall IHL Transformation journey.

R.P.L.V.: The Top 5 IHL Lines

Our works show that the top 5 most consistently R.P.L.V. high scoring IHL Lines are:

The Contracting Line: the hands down the “winner” in terms of driving accelerated “IHL Value Recognition”, and consistently scoring the highest across all aspects of R.P.L.V. scoring;

The Data Analytics Line: for IHLs that are already making a significant value contribution to their businesses but consistently fail to communicate that – this is an “easy win” area and helps build “support” for further transformation initiatives;

The Internal Client Line: working with the support of your “internal client” on the things that truly matter to them is always going to be an effective and appreciated approach to transformation; top 5

The Human Capital Line: the in-house lawyer is the fulcrum that dictates the performance of every Station and IHL Line and which can deliver a “steroid” effect on IHL Station performance when combined with non-personnel categories of IHL resources;

The Service Provider Line: whilst for many IHLs, this not the most important “day to day” resource category, when it is not optimised this IHL Line will typically consumes disproportionate quantities of IHL resources and consistently gets very low R.P.L.V. scores.

Accordingly, getting to grips with this IHL Line can constitute a quick, easy and visible win for your IHL team.

The above is stated noting that obviously, each IHL is different and serves a unique corporate ecosystem, meaning that the importance of individual IHL Lines can legitimately vary from one organisation to another.

Starting Point No. 4: The Business as Usual (“BAU”) 85:15 Approach

A “hard and fast rule” that GLS advocates is that every IHL should be spending at least 15% of its time and resources each week in a way that will help to deliver transformation outcomes ... and this can be achieved whilst addressing the BAU.

R.P.L.V. requires IHLs, as they tackle the business as usual support requirements of the Business, to ask if there are better ways of tackling these tasks … and if so, pursuing them where it make sense to do so.

DominoeThis minimum focus on “transformation outcomes” can:

• totally transform the productivity and efficiency of an IHL over a 2-year period; and

• keep pace with and harness the constantly emerging new developments that can elevate IHL performance.

The bottom line is that IHLs now find themselves operating in era of constant improvements and new productivity initiatives that might represent a powerful competitive advantage one day but quickly become “the average”.

So, this BAU 85/15 Approach entails consistently dedicating a little bit of your time each week to focus on transformation outcomes.

When doing this, as always, it is sensible to focus on initiatives that deliver maximum productivity ripple effect for your business/IHL.

Given the productivity ripple effect of Formative and Repeater Stations – these can be very powerful transformation focal points for IHLs looking to achieve maximum productivity / a domino effect.

Indeed when you apply R.P.L.V. thinking to Formative and Repeater Stations – they score very highly and also reveal throw off transformation initiatives that are of a “manageable size” and fit neatly into the 85:15 rule for IHLs.

Related Resource: See the most popular transformation objectives amongst the GLS Community in 2020 




Essential Observations & Tips

Essential Observations/Tips:

• The GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map allows you to visualise the key processes of a world class IHL
• Harness the power of “comparison” against a reference model to gauge your current performance & set clear goals
• Formative Stations are the key to realising overall IHL Line performance potential
• Your transformation plans can focus on any IHL Line(s), or IHL Station(s)
• Focusing on Formative and Repeater Stations offers great “productivity ripple effect” upside
• If a workflow is not represented on our map, it is likely not critical
• There are 4 “high impact” starting points to choose from for potent IHL Transformation agenda
• All GCs will know what represents a priority for their client’s business – apply R.P.L.V. to them to see if they represent a “Burning House”
• Focus 15% of your time on IHL tasks that have a transformation implication for your team
• GLS can instantly provide you with the tools & resources to transform any IHL Station / IHL Line



Having shared with you the Key Observations around the GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map and the 4 different approaches to determining an appropriate starting point, planning of your own Transformation journey.

You are free to explore the GLS Transformation Tube Map as much as you wish.

In future interactions of the interactive GLS Legal Transformation Tube Map we will be linking available tools, solutions and resources associated to each Station directly to each Station.

For now, though, if you want to understand how GLS can help your transformation work on a particular IHL Line or Station – please book a Free Consultation with us here or visit the GLS Legal Operation Centre,

In Part G, we share with you the GLS 7 Step Plan that allows you to quickly build a legal operations agenda to transform some or all of your IHL Lines and/or IHL Stations.


For other resources:


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