This is true, you will always get more of what you measure –
Don’t make the mistake, therefore, of blaming lawyers for the lack of law firm innovation. Sure, lawyers are change-resistant and conservative and all the rest — but so are most people, to a greater or lesser extent. Since almost any worthwhile innovation in a law firm will destroy hours and therefore reduce lawyers’ stock in trade, lawyers will understandably fight those innovations. It’s an entirely rational response, and we shouldn’t demonize lawyers for it.
The true barrier to law firm innovation is the firm’s ironclad insistence on measuring value — both external to the client and internal within the firm — on the basis of lawyers’ time and effort.
Law firms in general miss this, and I would argue it’s not just with billable hours either. That mindset of measuring time spent working carries over into the way it handles staff, legal and other. Management wants to see time spent working, which is not going to get you much in the way of innovation from anyone.