You can’t turn on the news without seeing a large Japan-based auto company being pilloried by Congress. (This is the same company that was lionized by certain senators last year). Once a company’s executives are called to Congress, and made to stand with their right hands raised, the court of public opinion already has rendered a verdict.
What is different is that this company has a product development process named after it. Two of the bedrock principles behind this system are “Respect for People” and “Teamwork.”
These are more than bromides, since process is nothing but words on paper; until somebody does something, nothing happens.
In law school you learn how to assemble the facts, marshal applicable law and advocate an outcome. But you likely didn’t learn how to be part of senior-level corporate decision-making so you have a chance at influencing people and shaping outcomes.
Part of the job description for an in-house counsel is to pull back from the demands of all sorts of processes on a good day and spend even 10 minutes considering how the bigger picture is trending for your client. This task is about 100 times harder when you are facing a major crisis or regulatory challenge.
And it is paradoxically even more difficult when you are the GC of a very successful company, because some of your colleagues may believe that all those great processes will themselves ensure good outcomes.