For AIRBUS Defense and Space and together with our colleague Legal Designer Astrid Kohlmeier, we redesigned and co-created a user friendly NDA for the collaboration on innovative projects with startups. AIRBUS continuously seeks to strengthen their market position in an established industry by developing new products in collaboration with startups. In these collaborations the first point of contact is to sign a NDA. In this situation AIRBUS recognizes their position and legal resources compared to startups who often don't have inhouse legal counsels, which leads to uncertainty regarding signing a NDA. With the redesigned design AIRBUS shows their best effort to build a sustainable relationship focused on trust, in order to set the environment for great innovation.
In order to create this trust, a better understandable contract/NDA was the focus of this project. The contract innovators team of AIRBUS learned in a first Kick off workshop the Legal Design method. In a joined effort together with Astrid Kohlmeier, we prepared and conducted this workshop to let participants come into the flow of our special way of approaching challenges and to analyze the internal status quo of the problem at the same time. The team started with the assumption that “start up companies don‘t want NDAs and don’t take care too much about legal issues”.
Our following deep research phase in which we conducted intense interviews with all relevant stakeholders in the ecosystem of NDAs (Legal department, contracting department, procurement, start up companies etc.) showed a complete different view on this topic. The main finding of the research was that start up companies want their IP to be protected as much as possible by an NDA but wish for an agreement to sign, that is transparent, easy to access and understandable.
Based on these findings we co-created a first version of a re-structured, shortened and simplified NDA including explanations of legal expressions for people without legal background. The test with users showed not only potential for further improvement but also the potential impact user centric contracts could expand: with the transparent and understandable NDA users felt understood and taken serious as a business partner. Remarkable on this project was that this trust building effect was triggered only by re-designing a contract!
Contracts are a way to communicate with business partners. Clear NDAs support a trustful partnership right from the start.
Watch back our Monthly Meetup where we discussed the design process with Ines Curtius of Airbus Defense and Space and Astrid Kohlmeier, our colleague legal designer with whom we conducted this project.