Robert Camp

Ready to innovate? Start with the ‘Why?’

“Innovation is not about creating something new. It’s about embracing change.” Many business leaders talk about putting people at the heart of their organisation, but how many achieve it?

“Everything starts with communication,” says Robert Camp, Director of Strategic Innovation at Stephens Scown LLP. “Understanding ‘the why’ makes it much more achievable to talk about the ‘how’.”

When Robert was appointed Managing Partner of the South West legal firm in 2010, annual turnover was £10.5m and net profit £2.9m. By the time he stepped down in 30 April 2019, turnover had reached £20m and profit £5.9m, with the firm expanding from 150 to 313 employees. For Robert, limiting innovation to processes or systems inhibits potential outcomes. “Innovation distils down to how you empower people, embrace change and use it to your advantage across a whole organisation.

“We’ve tried to create a culture of innovation, so everybody can come forward with ideas. Today we have an Innovation Hub with around 35 people. Early on it was more ‘from the ground’.”

Reusable coffee cups for the Love Where You Live campaign were a familiar feature of the firm’s Exeter, St Austell and Truro offices, years before other brands took similar steps. The Stephens Scown award-winning My Lawyer App was the first outward-facing client App in the whole legal profession.

Today, with a more formal structure, the firm continues to innovate. Teaming up with an external provider, the firm is working to give clients the same level of financial information that employees operate with – client dashboard, financial metrics and workflows.

One of the most innovative changes has been the ownership, or ‘Scownership’, as the scheme is affectionately called. The first large UK law firm to give all eligible members of staff an equal share in profits, Stephens Scown has featured in the prestigious Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, every year for the past five years.

A culture that fosters innovation has seen change for Robert too. Now, as Director of Strategic Innovation, his primary focus is client experience and, as he describes it: “making the provision of legal services much more relevant in the day-to-day marketplace.”

Be it an inward focus on culture or outward scanning for new ways of working, Robert’s passion for the journey is as strong as ever. And it’s one that sticks to basics every step of the way.

  • Don’t be put off by the noise
  • Create space to explore properly
  • Find what’s right for your business, people, market and clients
  • Start with the why

Each month at Robert will explore different aspects of innovation.

Robert Camp

Robert Camp

Stephens Scown
Robert is a Strategic Innovation Director at Stephens Scown and is based in Exeter. Robert’s vision for the firm is simple – to provide excellent client service and to develop and play to everyone’s strengths – and he has looked beyond the legal sector in a bid to set the firm apart from their competitors. He qualified in November 1986 and attended Harvard Law School’s Leadership in Law course and enjoys leading and being responsible for setting and delivering innovation for the firm. Having worked in London, Hong Kong and Sydney, Robert has extensive national experience in the mining and minerals sector. Robert is a director and trustee of the Christian overseas and development charity Tearfund, a Board director of the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink, an elected member of the CBI Regional Council for the South West, an advisory Board member of Burcher Jennings and a director of the South West Tourism Alliance.