Question: I am the Executive Director of a 75 attorney firm in Miami. We are meeting in a few months to revise our strategic plan. Some of our partners have suggested that as a result of the current business and economic climate that we start with a clean sheet of paper. Where should we start? What do you see as the key questions that we should be addressing?
Strategic planning is essentially a five step process. The first step begins be asking questions. Start by asking the following questions:
- What substantive issues does the firm face today?
- What issues will the firm face tomorrow?
- How has technology impacted (or will impact) how the firm conducts business and delivers services to clients?
- What are we doing and doing well?
- What are we not doing well?
- What do we need to improve or enhance?
- What metrics will tell us how we are doing?
- What should be eliminated?
- What are we not doing that we should be doing?
- What kind of training will we need to plan for?
- What demands are clients likely to make?
- What opportunities are we missing?
- What mistakes have been made recently by other law firms? Failed firms? Dissolved firms?
- What resources are we wasting by defending the past?
- What wheels have already been invented?
- How would we define our existing culture?
- What might our culture become?
- What makes us unique?
- What potential profitable areas (practice areas) are we overlooking?
- What are we doing to encourage creativity?
- What kind of uniqueness will we need in the future?
- What can we do to shape future outcomes?
- What do we want to be known for?
- What will future clients want?
- What is our existing vision?
- What form will future competitors take?
- What market trends should be we be paying attention to?
- What is our competitive edge?
- How can we expand our markets?
- What are our priorities?
- What are our values?
So take your time - remember strategic planning is a process - not a one-time event. The process is as important as the final plan itself. Don't try to get it done in a day or over a weekend. Rome was not built in a day.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC