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Jack Brandwood

Welcome to the Tact Talks podcast. Today I'm joined by Rich Somerfield, CTO at Summize. Hi, Rich, how you doing?

Richard Somerfield

Hi, Jack. I'm great, thanks, yourself?

Jack Brandwood

Good. Yeah, so bad, very hot now. It's heated up in the room. Yes, well look, obviously, I think for people who don't know who you are, could you introduce us to Rich?

Richard Somerfield

Yes, I'm CTO, chief Technology officer at Summize. Summize is legal tech software business aiming and digitizing contracting and really trying to improve and advance how people work with contracts in businesses particularly.

Jack Brandwood

Amazing, fantastic. So obviously I know a lot about Summize, it's a very exciting business, but weren't always at Summize, of course. When you first got into technology, how did you start in tech and how did you get to where you are now?

Richard Somerfield

I started way back whenever it was in the eighties, I was born in the late seventies, but started in the eighties. My dad was involved in a bit of IT, not on the [inaudible 00:01:03]. But he was involved in IT and we got a Amstrad, so similar to the Sinclair Spectrum, all that stuff.

Jack Brandwood

Sure.

Richard Somerfield

Brought home and when you booted these things up, different to consoles today where you're straight into a game, it was straight into a command line and you had to start typing if you wanted to do anything. I just played around with it really, and just I loved interacting with a computer and understanding how it worked, peeling back the layers, and then it just went through there, really. Went from playing with that to the next level of computers, and then eventually going to university here in Manchester, which was great, to do computer science. Then beyond that, I've been in a few different industries, still in tech and doing programming, and seen quite a few telecoms was one of the early ones. Then shifted into different things and then ended up at Summize. So yeah, really, really fortunate to have had the career I've had and the learnings I've had. But yeah, it's been great.

Jack Brandwood

Summize, again, exciting business, and whoever's watching these podcasts has probably seen them being mentioned on major tech publications. For you, what was the reason behind joining Summize, of all businesses?

Richard Somerfield

The previous company I was at before Summize actually knew Tom and Dave, the co-founders of Summize, so I knew them a little bit. My role at that company was we're working in IT management, so making sure people's machines were managed and asset tracked and all the rest of it. But my role in that was really to try and look towards the next generation of products. How can we take what we do today, which is very much an on-premise style software deployment, what do we need to do with the cloud, mobile? Back in the mid 2000s, it was a lot around mobile, cloud, social, all those things. We wanted to be relevant in that space, so my role was to head up what we called a research team. But it's just looking about how can we take some of the stuff we're really good at today and merge that with the potential new world?

For quite a number of years, I was looking at new stuff, developing proof of concept, ideas and stuff like that. I just really, really found that super interesting. But got to be honest, after a couple of years, because we weren't shipping products, you feel a little bit disconnected to the real world. There's a lot of those real world problems that you're not experiencing. Then we changed that role into more around new products, but actually delivery, so version one technology sets. I went through two or three things at the company, delivering V1s. It's almost like a startup, just without perhaps some of the money challenges that startups have. It was all like that, worked with a really good team, and we'd just loved to coming into work, and it was so exciting trying new things and actually delivering, hearing from customers, bringing that back into the product that we're working on.

When I spoke to Tom about potentially joining Summize, it just sounded like the perfect company. Legal, as a sector is definitely interesting. Perhaps, if you were to use these words, it's a little bit behind where some of the tech revolutions happened in other sectors. Look at FinTech, finance is very different than it was 20 years ago, and I think probably legal... Legal's a little bit behind where FinTech is, so I think we're going to see some rapid acceleration in the adoption of tech in legal, and that's where Summize plays. It was really interesting, a startup delivering new products into a market which hasn't quite found its feet with technology maybe yet. You can bring all the skills together and a great team as well, the founding of Summize, the team there. As we've grown, the culture's brilliant. Yeah, I absolutely love it.

Jack Brandwood

Yeah, I mean, I'm not [inaudible 00:04:56] myself, obviously, I don't know if you could tell. But I know it, of course, involves going through contracts, reading them and picking out the key points using artificial intelligence, machine learning. I'm sorry if I butchered that. Could you, I guess, give us a more technical overview of it and I guess the origin story, which is a fantastic story?

Richard Somerfield

Yeah, I love the story, it's probably been maybe expanded and exaggerated as it's gone along. But it was the company I worked for, like I say, with Tom and Dave. Tom was the GC there, and he was asked to review a hundred contracts, we might be up to like 400 in the story now, I'm not sure, but whatever, it was 400 contracts. He got asked to review these as part of an M&A thing, and pulled out a load of information out these 400 contracts, which was great. Then a week later he got asked to go through again those 400 contracts for a different piece of information, did that again. I think the third time of asking, he got a little bit frustrated with the entire experience. Tom's really... He doesn't code at Summize, but he's definitely entrepreneurial mindset, that wants to look at technology and how can he bring that into what he does, generally? He got talking to Dave, like I say, the co-founder. They just started to pull some ideas about how can we take a medium to large volume of contracts and turn those into a summary?

How can we automate what he had to do manually? That's really the origin story of Summize, taking contracts, turning it into a summary. I think the key bit to really stress is we're not looking to replace the lawyer. The lawyer, whether through education, experience, whatever it may be, is an expert in their field. But then you look at some of the tasks that they perhaps have to do on a daily basis, and they're time-consuming, repetitive, and unfairly simple in some cases. How can we bring technology to solve those problems and let the lawyer be the lawyer? Be a strategic advisor into the business and the guidance to helping them. Really like to think more of augmented intelligence rather than artificial intelligence, so the best things that computers can do coupled with the best things a human can do. That's what really you're going to see some acceleration in legal around that, as people start to adopt these legal tech products.

Jack Brandwood

That's amazing. Again, I love that story, because you've got Tom Dunlop, who again co-founded the business, who himself was in the legal sector, GC, of course. He understands the pain points of lawyers, and solicitors, and that sort of stuff. He had an issue of frustration and then used tech to solve that problem, and now he's realized that okay, other people need to see this and have a go on it. That's incredible, it really is, and so when you started in Summize, how big were the business when you started versus now?

Richard Somerfield

I started a month before COVID, which is probably a milestone that everyone [inaudible 00:07:52] to mention the date. But yeah, I started a month before COVID. At the time, it was a handful of people. I joined, we then accelerated the sales team and the marketing team, so we've grown quite a lot since I joined. Like I say, at the time, the product was really centered around what we talked about with the summarizing contracts. What I found interesting, from a product and technology perspective is what's the adjacent steps in the contract lifecycle? What comes before summarizing contract? Why do you want to summarize it and what comes after? I think what we've done, we've accelerated quite a lot over the last couple of years is owning the multiple stages of the contract lifecycle. All the way from creation, which we've got a really simple way of business people, not necessarily the lawyers being able to create a contract through a very guided approach.

Which again, if it's an NDA, a or a very simple legal agreement, it's probably the parties, the dates, and a few of the tiny bits of information that changes. If that takes an hour's worth of your GC time, each one to create is an obvious area for technology to step in and help that whole process out. Guided by the lawyer, but actioned through the technology. That's really where we've seen a lot of growth in Summize, is touching these points almost beyond the lawyer or outside of the lawyer. We aim to help the lawyer do what they do, but also, help the lawyer deliver their services into businesses and the business users. Connect it all together, that then obviously helps stuff like deal velocity, and the business productivity, and et cetera, so seen huge gains of that. I think, coming back to what I said before about joining Summize a month before COVID, obviously we all experienced this, but the shift almost overnight from in-office experiences to Zoom, Teams experiences, was pretty dramatic.

That's where we, as a business, how we're looking at legal, how can we make legal easy? Well, it's clear we need to think about how we deliver our technology, our product experiences, into those virtual offices. How can we make legal easy through Teams? How can we make legal easy through Slack? Because in more cases, particularly COVID, but in more cases since then, that's where all your business people, that's where all the users are, is in Teams. If you want to engage legal services, then the best place to do it is through Teams, rather than having to look elsewhere, find whatever other technology you might be using. But you don't know what the website is, you don't know where the app is. Whereas, if it's in Teams, then it's just to hand, we've delivered that piece and we've seen huge adoption of that. Because like I say, it helps all around.

Jack Brandwood

So making it as easy as possible to use?

Richard Somerfield

Yeah, exactly right.

Jack Brandwood

Okay, great. Because I remember there was some figures that you talked me through last time, it was the amount of hours it can save a person using it, I don't know if you have the figures to hand?

Richard Somerfield

I've not got the figures to hand, but I think it's a really interesting question. You're kind of like, "I'm not a lawyer and I've never been involved in legal activities, as such."

Jack Brandwood

Sure.

Richard Somerfield

But I think you just have to look at the problem, this is what I really enjoyed, look at the problem and engage with domain experts. I listened to Tom as the ex-GC, listened to customers, potential customers, always got eyes and ears open to what's going on. We were talking to a customer one day and they said one of the most frustrating things they have to deal with is they get emails in from around the business asking them to review a contract like, "Please review this contract." In most cases, it's late on a Friday, just before the weekend in most cases. In most cases as well, the request doesn't include any contextual information, it's just review this contract.

Now, if that contract is with your most important supplier at the most important time of the year, the lawyer's probably going to do that before they go away for the weekend. Whereas, if it's less important, maybe they can go for the weekend and come in and do it on the Monday, but that contextual information is critically important. The first thing the lawyer's going to do, reply back to the requester and ask for a couple of bits information like, "How important is this? When do you need a response by? Are there any key things I need to know?" Well, obviously there, technology can step in. One of the abilities of Summize is to sit in between those two points, so the lawyer can configure the questions they need to know, generally. Then, when the business user uses our system through Teams or Slack and asks, "Can you review this contract?"

We automatically ask them to pre-fill in these questions, it sounds really simple, and I think it really is, really, when you think about it. But when, coming back to your question, the speed improvement there, you only have to just look at it very quickly. You've solved... The lawyer hasn't had to receive an email and read it without the contextual information, they haven't had to reply. The business user answered the questions at the point they asked for the review, rather than sometime later and they've forgotten what they wanted. I think you start to see how technology can really play an important part in say that augmented aspect. Then the whole process gets sped up across the board and it's not just review, same thing's true for creating contracts, you can see how we can speed that up one. We also work in Microsoft Word, which is where many lawyers do, and we help speed up the process there.

Whether that's creation, negotiation, et cetera, helps speed the process up there. Then again, all the way through to the end of the lifecycle, which is you have a signed contract or you have many signed contracts, what's in them? What do I need to know about? When's a contract expiring? How does this contract perform against my business's risk appetite, or how does this contract perform against other contracts? Are the payment terms within our bounds? That's what Summize can do and it gives you all that information, so you wrap all that together, the productivity improvements are really staggering and the performance improvements. Then that all feeds back into, like I say, making the lawyer and the legal services of a business much more effective, the entire business more effective. Then frees up the lawyer, like I say, to be more of a strategic guider, rather than stuck in email all the time, answering questions that we can help them with.

Jack Brandwood

All really simple practical solutions, but all in one place that you can use. What does the future of Summize look like? I mean, what's the next steps of Summize? Because again you're... Is it 30 odd people right now?

Richard Somerfield

That's right, yeah.

Jack Brandwood

Yeah, 30 odd people right now. What's the plan for the next 12 months, 18 months

Richard Somerfield

We're growing really rapidly, so it's continuing on that curve.

Jack Brandwood

Amazing.

Richard Somerfield

That's almost a given at the stage we're at. I think the next real stages for us is taking the next level up, looking at the contract lifecycle. At each stage, what we've tried to do is build the foundations that then can set us up for the next stage. Starting with the ability to summarize a contract, which is relevant, whether it's signed, post-signature or pre-signature and negotiation. Once we had that technology, we could then bring that to Microsoft Word. How can we get a quick summary in Microsoft Word? Then from that, when you are in Word and you're negotiating contracts, you want to see what clauses you've used previously, or what your company guidance is. We call that the playbook as many people do. But that's your playbook, which is contextually aware within Word, so we've got that solved. Then you're thinking when you're creating a new contract, you're probably going to want to create that contract based off existing clauses that you're happy with and you've negotiated.

Jack Brandwood

Nice.

Richard Somerfield

You can see how then we bring the playbook into the creation process, you can see all these things are layering on top of each other. We are spending a lot of time looking into analytics, so how does this contract compare against the different one? Again, another next stage for us really around the playbook effectiveness. When you are negotiating the contract, you always pick the most favorable position for yourself, you expect the third party's going to negotiate to a different place.

Jack Brandwood

Sure.

Richard Somerfield

Well, what happens if you knew that your starting point never ended up into a final signed contract? It tells you something around the negotiation process, that maybe if you start from something that's closer to the middle ground, you take a negotiation process down from two weeks or a month, maybe down to days, because there's less backwards and forwards.

Jack Brandwood

That's very interesting.

Richard Somerfield

That analytics across the board, how effective is your business at creating contracts? How much standardization do you need? Really applying analytics on top of all the stuff we do, and extending across the entire contract lifecycle, which we do already, but expanding. Then I think really, we talked about Teams and Slack, that's where people are, so that's where we want our software to be, so they don't have to use learn new technologies. But really expanding the integrations that Summize offers, to give you the ability to take and use what you need of Summize, what makes sense for you, as a business. But also, integrate that into the other systems that you've already got, that your business has already adopted. We're not looking to totally replaced processes, we're looking to enhance and accelerate through those integrations. I think we're going to see a big increase in the integrations we've got from Summize in the coming months.

Jack Brandwood

Exciting stuff, exciting stuff. I guess going out there and offering people the software, making it literally just as easy as possible to use, I guess for you, and I know we talked about this the other day, it's almost like you've got this feedback loop of going out to market and speaking to customers. Being like, "Okay, can you do this?" "Not yet, but it will do soon." You're taking this feedback from customers and then just implementing it, which seems so simple. But yeah, it's clearly with the Slack integrations, Teams integrations, that sort of stuff.

Richard Somerfield

That's right. Yeah, I think you look at software as an industry, technology as an industry, 20 years ago, talking about Agile.

Jack Brandwood

Sure.

Richard Somerfield

You can see that mindset about adapting to change. Day in, day out, things change, so adapt to that, make different decisions today than you would've done yesterday. You've seen Agile come into other business departments, and you see a bit of a revolution in how business works through that Agile mindset that started off in... Heavily adopted within software, at least. I think what you've seen over the last five to 10 years is concept called DevOps. DevOps is around bringing development and operations together, typically it was you'd throw over the wall to operations and they'd have to have the responsibility of how do we deliver this to customers? In quite often cases, it was not possible, or the customer ended up with a subpar experience, because they weren't thought about really from day one.

Like I said, ultimately, the customer suffers in that particular scenario. Then the net consequence there is either shelfware, so people aren't using the product, or the customer's disgruntled, generally. Like I said, just a general subpar experience overall. We like to think much more around product engineering, so we're writing software to deliver a product to customers, because they have a problem or something we're trying to help them out with. Really trying to bring that together, which is why all of our engineers regularly speak to customers. They regularly engage with customers, and just generally just listen, eyes and ears open, we quite often talk about. Just soak up what's going on, because in many cases, what we've experienced is you hear a particular pain point from a lawyer, or a potential customer on a call.

The actual solution is, for us, given some of the software we've written and some of the foundations we've got, can often be quite quick, we can implement that. But without hearing and understanding what those points are, you are never going to guess to that solution in the first place, so like I say, keeping those bits together is really critical. I think that joining of the phases, like the lifecycle, whether that be for contracts with our customers or whether it be for business departments, I think following Agile's adoption into the rest of the business, I think we're going to start to see this DevOps mindset. Bringing departments much closer together, much more joined, rather than the siloed departments that might have been the more common case.

Jack Brandwood

I love that, and I really like that idea of people being product engineers rather than just software engineers. Because I guess it's a mindset thing where if you're a software engineer just writing code, but what's the purpose? Product engineer's like, "No, I'm writing code for a product that I'm creating." Yeah, I love that, and I assume everyone in your business is down as a products engineer then, that's how you...

Richard Somerfield

I think it's a bit more of an internal-

Jack Brandwood

Got you.

Richard Somerfield

... title. I think if you were to put that on LinkedIn, people wouldn't understand what it meant.

Jack Brandwood

Good point, yeah.

Richard Somerfield

But it's more like... It's just, like I say, it's the mindset. Get yourself in the mindset that you writing software for a reason, rather than you're getting paid to write code, which is very, very different.

Jack Brandwood

I think that's fantastic, and you talked about Agile there as well, and I know a lot of people have different views of Agile. How would you define Agile within Summize?

Richard Somerfield

Yeah, I mean, if you go back all the way to the Agile Manifesto, it talks about we favor X over Y. It's not totally prescriptive, it's not like, "You need to do this process," it's more, "We think these things are more important than other things. If it comes down to a decision between the two, we're going to favor X." People talk about Agile with a lower case as being that mindset and Agile with an upper case being a bit more process driven. I like to think much more in the lowercase one, so you come into the office or work from home, you're starting your work and you think what is the most important thing to do right now for me, for the business, for our customers? Really bring that on board.

Obviously, you don't want to be chopping and changing on an hourly basis, but what's the most important thing we can do right now? Then delivering on it. Going all the way through all the stages, particularly for us as engineers, writing the code, testing it, validating it, refining it, delivering it to customers. That whole thing gets joined together. Pre-Agile, a lot of business, a lot of softwares use Waterfall. I quite like the stages in Waterfall as in terms of you write the code... You work out what you want to do, write the code, test it, deliver it. But think of that on a much shorter time scale, as in hours and days rather than months and years, which is... The combination of the two is actually quite interesting, I find.

I think that overall then how we do stuff at Summize is based around that mindset that we listen, eyes and ears open, like I say, listen to what the most important thing to do is. Then, get together as a group and work out how we're going to solve this problem with everyone's ideas coming together. Then, we go off and implement it, and [inaudible 00:23:32] all the way through, with the feedback, all the way through that as well, so really trying to do that. We work at a really fast pace as well, which I'm thankful that the team that I'm part of loves that experience. I think we've shown that through the features we've delivered and the progress we've made as a product, from a relatively small software team, we've made huge advancements. So yeah, I absolutely love it.

Jack Brandwood

Brilliant, and the tech team, the [inaudible 00:23:58] what size are we looking at?

Richard Somerfield

We are six currently, and we're growing.

Jack Brandwood

Nice.

Richard Somerfield

Yeah, always looking for new engineers, new people to join that team.

Jack Brandwood

I was just going to say that this your chance to plug it if you're going to plug any jobs. Engineers, any other roles that Summize's looking for right now?

Richard Somerfield

I mean, as anybody is in the [inaudible 00:24:15] space, DevOps is important to us as well. Then fundamental around the experience we're delivering to customers is that UX, the user experience role-

Jack Brandwood

Awesome.

Richard Somerfield

... right the way through from the design, research, and interaction design, as well. So yeah, the whole spectrum, really.

Jack Brandwood

Great, and I know with you touched on it before and you got a gorgeous office in the city center in Manchester, obviously, really central. But in terms of remote working, how often are you doing that? How flexible is it?

Richard Somerfield

I tend to come into the office a couple of days a week at the moment, some of the people on the dev team do similar and then others are much more remote.

Jack Brandwood

Awesome.

Richard Somerfield

A lot of us work together, previous company, so we know each other pretty well. We've found that the flexibility that comes from that hybrid style of work has helped us hugely, the productivity. We actually saw... I mean I know this isn't the case for many people, but actually, during COVID, we saw a huge acceleration in our productivity.

Jack Brandwood

Wow.

Richard Somerfield

Cutting out the commute and all those things, we actually... Our features almost doubled that we were delivering per month, which is interesting. I'm not sure my kids were particularly happy when they were there trying to homeschool and all the rest of it. Yeah, it was quite interesting, I think what we've done since some of the rules and the lockdowns have come in is look back and say, "What were the good things about that stage for us?" I know many people are pretty badly affected by it, but what worked well during that phase when it was forced and what didn't, and trying to bring those two bits together to blend. We quite often get together as a group for creative sessions, but then when it's the heads down, I need to concentrate to deliver this feature, they're much more suited to that work from home, headphones on, just get down and really focus.

Jack Brandwood

Great stuff. I'm sure that does come from the case that you worked together for quite some time, you know each other. But it's awesome that you've got that flexible working model, if people want to come in more often, they can do, if you want to be more remote, you can do. Because the same thing doesn't work for everybody, it's crazy, it is crazy to think that that would be the case.

Richard Somerfield

That's the key thing, I think you know quite often see in the papers these days about maybe some of the execs saying everybody needs to be in the office for X percent of the week, and some MPs are mentioned the same things as well, not going to mention any names. But I think most important thing to do is do the right thing for your business and the role, whatever sector you're in, whatever your job is. It's like, "What's the right thing for you, for your team, for the business?" As an employee, you have to have responsibilities towards the business, there's things that you need to contribute, there's things that you need to do. Now, what's the best way to help you do that? Then also, you need to be aware of the groups around you.

If you are working closely with other people, or perhaps more that you're at the earlier stages of your career when you're looking to just listen in to conversations and feel things and experience things, rather than necessarily driving those conversations, I think the in-office experience is significantly better. I think you'll see from quite a few of the teams in Summize, they as a team much prefer that in-office experience. Then other roles, like I say, perhaps more in the engineering side of things, there are significant benefits to being able to do that concentration for a period of time, which you get from home that you perhaps don't get from being in the office. Then say if you can cut the commute as well, there's a decent chunk of time that you save in there. Plus, the flexibility that it comes with that one, so really aware that certain roles are very fortunate to be more flexible than others.

Jack Brandwood

Sure.

Richard Somerfield

If you're on the phone with customers, you're kind of based on their timescale rather than... The hours that they work rather than the hours that you work, but in the product side of things, like I say, we can be a bit more flexible.

Jack Brandwood

I think it's obviously extremely practical that way, looking at things. Luckily I think a lot of businesses are clocking onto the fact that that's the way it should be, especially within tech. There's such a massive shortage of talent in the tech community, why would you make the pool that you are fishing from any smaller by requiring people to be in the office all the time, by making them work a certain set of hours that just has been set as a standard by whatever have been grandfathered in? Why would you only fish from, I say Manchester rather than looking into Yorkshire, or the Midlands, and it's crazy, it really is. Just on that, again, talking about flexibility, talking about your tech team obviously growing, which is incredible to hear. You've been leading tech teams for quite some time, have you identified a leadership style that you've adopted?

Richard Somerfield:

I've been really fortunate to be in a few different roles, I even was incredibly fortunate to live in the States for a couple of years, in Silicon Valley. Took my really young family out there, we opened up an office, and it was an incredible experience about seeing how different people, different cultures, like Silicon Valley, do things differently. It was actually one of the things that really stuck in my mind for that one was early on in that process, went out there, hired a first couple of Silicon Valley natives. They'd been around and done some stuff, and we were working on this new concepts for the business, which we were really, really excited about. Came into the office the next day, and on the front page of TechCrunch, there's a popular tech website. But the front page of TechCrunch was a startup that just announced a huge investment and they were doing exactly the same as what we were aiming to do. Right, [inaudible 00:30:05]. My first reaction was, oh well, let's think of another idea. The Silicon Valley native immediately said, "Awesome, someone's validated that idea as being valuable, let's go faster."

Jack Brandwood

Nice, okay.

Richard Somerfield

That stuck in my mind ever since, as there's different styles of tackling a problem, different approaches. Your question was around leadership, I think... I've been involved in a couple of different roles, that one particularly, and others as well, managing people. I think what I've found is my personal preference is to be part individual contributor, part leader, part manager, and blend all those bits together. But I think really, coming back to the product engineer, you only really learn when you are delivering to customers. When the rubber meets the road is when you really learn.

The further you get away from delivering to customers as an engineer, the more stale your experiences get, the more stale your knowledge gets. Over a period of time, you've become really disconnected. Working for Summize, which is currently smaller, with a really dynamic group of people and a great culture means you, I can blend those two bits together. I think my leadership style is be part of the team, but also, be encouraging the team to get better, make the next progress. Just encourage from within, rather than wanting a title and wanting that elevated position on the org chart. It really doesn't make any sense to me.

Jack Brandwood

Love that, so you want to be the cold face of the issue, speaking to the customers, test, fail, test, fail, test fail, trying things out.

Richard Somerfield

Many people, you talk about leading from the front, look at any sports team, I think businesses, if you think more than the sports teams and families, your mind's in the right place. Everybody has a role to play, how well you're doing on that? Sometimes you perhaps have a bit of an off day, you need a bit of an arm around the shoulder. Other times, you might need a little bit of encouragement to step it up, all working together. It's only when everyone works together or you function as a team, that you're successful.

Jack Brandwood

Yes.

Richard Somerfield

I think it's important that you're not just sat on the side-lines shout orders, because it might work for a short period of time, but ultimately, it doesn't... You look at any successful sports team, there's a blend of a whole load of different personalities, a whole load of roles, when they come together that you achieve things that really exceed the individual. I mean, I follow football, you look at in recent times, quite a lot of money's been involved in some of the more successful clubs. But look back, you're going to have to look back to Lester to realize that if everything comes together and you can get that, you don't need to be-

Jack Brandwood

Wadded.

Richard Somerfield

Quite.

Jack Brandwood

Yeah.

Richard Somerfield

I was trying to avoid [inaudible 00:33:01].

Jack Brandwood

It's not a very articulate term, but no, and I get what you mean. That's an interesting fact, isn't it? They went through... Well, a lot of companies went through a stage of saying, "Come join our family," or, "We're building a big family here," which is lovely on the face of it. But if you really think about it, you want to be building teams, not families. I don't feel a family isn't the environment where they are holding each other accountable, or anything like that. It's almost like, "We'll love you either way." I don't think that's responsible in a business, you want people to be the best they possibly can be. I think a family environment isn't conducive to that.

Richard Somerfield

I mean, there's [inaudible 00:33:39] feeling safe and secure, part of a unit is really important.

Jack Brandwood

Absolutely.

Richard Somerfield

But then again, bring your best work. Like I say, you're working with... Almost all businesses is more than just a single person.

Jack Brandwood

Sure.

Richard Somerfield

Right, so what are you contributing to that? Are you accelerating things or are you dragging things down here? Where do you fit? I think, like I say, it works best when everyone brings their best abilities to the team. Which I think when you look at diversity and inclusion, why that's so critically important that you get that as part of your business. Because everyone's got different thoughts, different experiences, different processes that they favor. It's when you bring those two bits together in a culture that accepts those, and adopts them, and then iterates and learns, I think that's when you see really good stuff.

Jack Brandwood

Yeah, that's a really good point, having a team of people who admittedly aren't all good at one thing, that would be ridiculous. You wouldn't hire a football team full of strikers, because it just wouldn't make any sense. Yeah, that's very interesting. Look, it sounds like Summize is doing amazingly well, what do we need to be keeping an eye out for next with Summize? What we going to be seeing in the papers, what we going to be seeing in inside [inaudible 00:34:57] and all these different publications?

Richard Somerfield

I mean, you're certainly going to see us grow, for sure on that one.

Jack Brandwood

Awesome.

Richard Somerfield

I think it's, like I said, you talked a little bit before about FinTech, how you've seen adoption of that one. When you look across the legal tech sector, no one product has been fully adopted yet. I think that's what we're going to start to see over the next couple of years is the technology really starting to get bedded into businesses. Really start to see this acceleration, thinking much more around legal as a service, rather than legal as a department. I think we're going to see huge acceleration across the sector in terms of that, and obviously, we hope that Summize is the leading part of that, as well.

Jack Brandwood

I'm sure it will be. I'm sure it will be. Look, we always like to wrap things up with it with a couple of questions, one of which I think is really important. Luckily, you admitted that you've been in tech since the eighties, a long career in tech. Has there ever been a time that you've royally fluffed up, and if so, what did you learn from it?

Richard Somerfield

It was actually during my childhood, so like I said, my dad was involved in some level of IT. We got some computers and stuff, some early adopters. I remember one of them he got a printer, I [inaudible 00:36:11] printer, which I don't know if you know what that one is?

Jack Brandwood

[inaudible 00:36:14] I don't think so.

Richard Somerfield

Much more like a typewriter, so the letters were all printed on a ball and it worked like a typewriter, but driven by a computer. My dad told me, "Don't plug it in to the computer when the electricity's onto it." I forgot, and we fried the board on that one. That destroyed that printer, which he wasn't too pleased about.

Jack Brandwood

The machine was quite expensive [inaudible 00:36:37].

Richard Somerfield

At the time, it was pretty expensive.

Jack Brandwood

God.

Richard Somerfield

That didn't particularly work. Then, another experiment I was doing with the family computer was just trying a new piece of software and ended up formatting the hard drive, and we had to start again. But that was early, I've not made too many mistakes since then, hopefully.

Jack Brandwood

Of course, yeah. Well, what did you learn from those mistakes? Was it just if your family tell you to leave the computer alone, leave the computer alone?

Richard Somerfield

Probably not so much, because I didn't suffer the consequences, I guess. But I don't know, it's a little bit of experimentation, a little bit of listening.

Jack Brandwood

Clearly, those experiments led you to where you are now and you clearly had an interesting computers. So yeah, makes complete sense. We did talk about, again, a book that you would recommend, we did talk about our book just before we [inaudible 00:37:25] onto the podcast. If you had to recommend a book, what would you recommend?

Richard Somerfield

There's a whole load of books that I've... I love books, love podcasts, love learning new stuff, there's probably a whole load that people already know about. But one that I found really helpful around visual communication is a book called Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam. What he does... It's a really small book, really easy to digest, he looks at communication from a diagram perspective. You want to convey an idea... Typically, when you're on a whiteboard or whatever it be, you're trying to convey something through a diagram.

He [inaudible 00:38:03] a really nice diagram he's got in his book where he maps out the different things you want to try and communicate. Is it a relative size thing you're trying to... Is it a relative problem? Is it a proximity thing you're trying to convey? Then he suggests these little cartoon drawings, they're really super simple to draw, about different diagrams you might use to convey that information. I love jumping on the whiteboard anyway and drawing stuff out, but I found that book super helpful in terms of communicating ideas. Think through what you're trying to communicate, pick one of his diagram styles, and then use that, and I find it to be incredibly effective.

Jack Brandwood

Wonderful, great. Well, I'll be buying that after... I've got a very expensive but list of books I need to buy now, but thank you, for all the guests have come on. But no look, thank you for coming on, really appreciate it. It sounds like Summize is... Yeah, rockets into the centre of the universe and it's incredible. Thank you for coming on, really excited to see where Summize is in the next 12 to 24 months. Yeah. Thanks for your time.

Richard Somerfield

Yeah, thanks, Jack. Been great to talk to you.

About the author

Richard Somerfield

With experience working in several leadership positions, Rich focuses on bringing new ideas and concepts to market. Before starting at Summize, he lived and worked in Silicon Valley, and holds a number of European and US patents for his innovations.
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