How to get standards adopted

  • updated 9 mths ago

This thought piece was originally written for oneNDA but can be used for other standards including oneDPA.

Driving change 

John Kotter, leadership and change management professor at Harvard Business School, introduced his ground-breaking 8-Step Change Model in his 1995 book, “Leading Change”. 

Built on the work of Kurt Lewin, the model sets out the 8 key steps of the changes process, arguing that neglecting any of the steps can be enough for the whole initiative to fail. 

We followed this methodology when we created oneNDA and then followed it again with oneDPA. It proved very successful and we suggest that you use a similar approach when rolling out oneNDA, oneDPA or indeed any other change within your organisation. 

Here’s our proposed step plan for driving adoption both internally amongst your colleagues and externally to your suppliers and clients. 

Step One: Create Urgency

The idea of a change being necessary for the success of your organisation can be very powerful. If you can create an environment where individuals are aware of an existing problem and can see a possible solution it is likely support for the change will rise. 

Generating conversation about what is happening and what direction the organisation could go in will help to achieve this. 

This step is all about preparation and Kotter estimates that roughly 75% of a company’s management needs to be behind a change for it to be successful. This emphasises his point that it is important to prepare well before jumping into the change process. 

This step creates the 'need' for change, rather than just a 'want' for change. The difference is very important when it comes to the likely support and eventual success of the change.

Why do you need oneNDA? 


  • NDAs cost the business £X per year. Using oneNDA could reduce our spend by up to 75% 

  • NDAs killed or delayed X% of deals last year. Using oneNDA would give us a competitive advantage 

  • X, Y and Z businesses are already using oneNDA (check our directory here) - we look like laggards if we’re not adopting it

Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition

It will be very hard to lead the whole change process on your own, and therefore it is important to build a coalition to help you direct others. 

The coalition you build should be made up of a range of skills, a range of experience and people who come from different areas of the business, to maximise its effectiveness.  

The coalition can help you to spread messages throughout the organisation, delegate tasks and ensure there is support for the change organisation-wide. Team members that collaborate, complement each other and can drive each other to work harder will make your life easier and the change more likely to be successful. 

Who do you need to get on-side? Who are your main stakeholders that you need to influence? 

  • Legal? It will save them time and alleviate them from repetitive, low value tasks 

  • Finance? It will save money and increase deal speed

  • Legal Ops? It will streamline the process

  • Sales? It will speed up deal time 

Step Three: Create a Vision for Change

A change initiative is likely to be complicated and can often be hard to understand, in particular for employees at the lower end of the hierarchy. 

For this reason, creating a vision that is easy to understand and encapsulates the overall aim is a useful way of generating support from the whole organisation. 

While this vision should be simple and understandable, it also needs to be inspirational to have maximum effect. 

What vision statement would work best for your organisation when rolling out oneNDA? 


  • ‘Imagine a world where the problem of having to negotiate NDAs disappears. NDAs more or less say the same thing but in different words. There are very few ‘red lines’ that we don’t accept, less than 1% of NDAs ever get litigated and yet we spend a significant amount of time and money negotiating them. oneNDA is an open-source, crowd-sourced NDA that’s already being used by some the world’s largest organisations including UBS, EasyJet, Panasonic, Novartis and more. If we adopted it, we’d save ourselves time, money and we’d get to deals quicker, making ourselves look good in the interim’ 

Step Four: Communicate the Vision

Creating the vision is not enough to generate support for it, it then needs to be communicated throughout the organisation. 

This is an excellent opportunity to utilise the coalition you have built up, as between them they are likely to have networks in every area of the business.

It is important to continuously communicate this message as it is likely that competing messages are also being spread. 

How will you communicate your vision? 

  • Do you have a comms team that can help? 

  • What forums are coming up where you could communicate this? 

  • Use our collateral to help spread the word

Step Five: Remove Obstacles

The first four steps are essential in building the strength of your change initiative, but it is also important to look for what is likely to reduce its chances for success. 

Whether its individuals, traditions, legislations or physical obstacles, it is likely there will be a few barriers blocking your change’s path. Identify these as early as possible and rely on available resources to break them down, without disrupting any other areas of the business. 

Who or what could stand in your way of driving change? 

  • Systems? 

  • People? 

  • Other events that will be prioritised?

Step Six: Create Short-Term Wins

Change processes often take a while to reap any rewards and this can cause support to fall if individuals think their effort has been wasted. 

For this reason, it is important to demonstrate the advantages of the new process by creating some short-term wins. 

Shorter term targets are also useful tools for motivation and direction. Using these wins to justify investment and effort can help to re-motivate staff to continue backing the change.

There’s no need to go in with an all-org roll-out off the bat. 

  • Where’s the smallest place you could start and successfully deliver change to use this as a poster child for future roll-out? 

  • It could be a team or a jurisdiction or other business division that you think would be open to change 

Step Seven: Build on the Change

Many change processes fail as complacency creeps in towards the end and projects are not finished properly. Therefore, Kotter argues it is important to sustain and cement the change for long after it has been accomplished. 

Keep setting goals and analysing what could be done better for continued improvement. 

How will you measure success and continue to motivate people to utilise oneNDA and successfully cement the change? Could you set goals in terms of:

  • How quickly NDAs are concluded 

  • How many times you conclude an NDA without negotiation 

  • How much time and money you’ve saved by using oneNDA

Think about what data you’d need upfront to be able to measure these KPIs 

Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture

Simply changing the habits and processes of employees is not always enough to instil a culture change across the organisation. 

The changes should become part of the core of your organisation to have a lasting effect. Keeping senior stakeholders on board, encouraging new employees to adopt the changes and celebrating individuals who adopt the change will all help to promote the change to the core of your organisation.

How will you continue to ensure oneNDA is used across the organisation and that people remain bought in? 

  • What regular comms plan can you instil to ensure the initiative remains front of mind and that people feel proud of their success? 

  • How can you use data to demonstrate success and ensure people remain committed to the cause?

Managing internal pushback

After you’ve raised awareness about oneNDA, you may start getting pushback from some of your stakeholders on its content. It’s important to challenge the pushback and ask the stakeholder what risk they perceive in a certain provision being included or excluded. oneNDA never strived for perfection because perfection is often the enemy of done.

We also don’t think that the ‘perfect’ legal document can exist since the assessment of ‘quality’ in contractual language is often based on a person’s stylistic preference, risk appetite or prior experience. oneNDA is a crowdsourced document that was created with input from some of the leading lawyers in the industry.

Rolling out oneNDA externally

What happens when the other side sends you their NDA? We suggest you push back and ask them to sign oneNDA instead. Here’s a template email we suggest you use:

As you may be aware, a new general purpose standard wording NDA has been launched recently by oneNDA which we at [COMPANY NAME] have adopted for all suitable transactions. I am sure you will agree that much time is wasted unproductively reviewing different NDAs for each transaction when the same clauses are required in most scenarios, and standardised contracts are of course successfully used in many commercial situations.

oneNDA was created collaboratively by a group of leading law firms and in-house teams with input from the wider legal community. The terms of oneNDA have been discussed extensively in order to make it balanced, fair and easy to understand. You can find more information on why certain clauses aren’t included here. Adopters of oneNDA have had very little push-back when proposing its use, so clearly confidence is being expressed in the document. To see a list of other oneNDA adopters, please head over to the directory and if you have any questions on oneNDA, you can read the FAQs or leave your question here and the oneNDA team will get back to you.

This is a mutual NDA for the benefit of both parties sharing confidential information with each other. oneNDA can be used at no cost but cannot be amended other than to populate the details specific to the parties on the first page. I think you will find it is clear, well drafted and balanced. I would like you to consider using the oneNDA document for this project, without amendments and attach a copy below.

Giving feedback on oneNDA

Got feedback on oneNDA? Tried to get it adopted internally and got pushback on points we haven’t covered or you found to be insurmountable? Used oneNDA and found friction points? We really want to know. Your feedback is imperative to this initiative and if we’re going to make oneNDA the standard NDA globally, your input is absolutely necessary. Give us feedback here.

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