Our firm is a 25 attorney business litigation boutique firm in Southern California. I am a partner in the firm and chair of the firm's long range planning committee. Last year we spent a lot of time putting together a strategic plan for the firm. While we have a nice plan including specific action items - we are having problems with implementation. We are stuck and not getting anything done. What are your thoughts?
This is a common problem. Even in corporate america the implementation rate is low.
- 90% of corporate strategies fail to achieve their expected results.
- 80% of projects are late or over budget.
Many law firms experience similar results. They spend time and energy on mission, vision, goals, objectives and strategies but run out of gas when it comes to specific action planning outlining tasks, milestones and deadlines, individual specific accountabilities, and resource requirements. You just can't cut this step short. All strategic plans should include action plans that list under each strategy specific tasks with milestones, deadlines/due dates, name of person(s) responsible, and required resources. Consequences, compensation, etc. should be tied to task accomplishment or non-accomplishment.
I suggest that the strategic action plan for the firm be considered a project and incorporate:
- A project definition (charter)
- A project plan
- A project control system including progress measurement, communication, and correction action.
Status should be reviewed at committee meetings on a monthly basis and at firm meetings on a quarterly basis.
Often we suggest that Excel be used for the action plan segment of the strategic plan with columns for strategies and tasks and sub-tasks, person responsible for task accomplishment, start date, due date, date completed, completed by, and resources required.
In larger firms or for more complex action plans with multiple people responsible we suggest that an online project management system be used to manage the action plan. Many of our clients use either www.teamworkpm.net or www.basecamp.com. Some firms have practice management system capable of performing project management functions.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC