Originally posted on Small Firm Innovation
In the first planning installment, we talked about creating a vision and core values statement. The next step is to identify the firm goals and key issues facing the firm.
One suggestion for getting buy-in from the partners is to have them write down the top 3 goals for their practice and for the firm, as well as the things that are stopping them from achieving their personal and firm goals (the key issues). Submit these for compilation and discussion at a planning retreat. This will also start the process of aligning personal and firm goals.
At the planning retreat, list all the goals and issues on flipchart paper and post them for all partners to review as the day proceeds. Then start discussing the issues one by one until you have exhausted all issues.
I’ve found the process is usually more successful if you start by discussing the issues first and the goals after. Lawyers are naturally focused on what’s wrong with the firm rather than the positives, so I find this approach simplifies and speeds up the discussion considerably as a result.
Once all of the issues have been discussed, then you can start prioritizing the issues. Aim to have the top 5 issues decided on by the day’s end. This part of the process can proceed quite quickly if you’ve already had a thorough discussion of the issues beforehand.
Once you have a prioritized list of the top 5 issues facing the firm, you can now start to turn those issues into quantifiable goals. For example, if one of the issues is “lack of profitability”, then the goal can be converted to “increase profits by x% over x years”. This is a quantifiable goal with a deadline, which is essential for follow-through and measuring the success of the firm plan later on.
Review the list of goals submitted prior to the retreat, and add or modify to this list based on the discussion of the key issues. Decide on the top 5 goals as a group.
Once you have decided on the top 5 goals, then you need to determine if completing these goals will be enough to achieve your vision. If not, you will have to repeat the process until you come up with an adequate set of goals which will achieve your firm vision.
In the first installment we talked about determining where you’re at today and your vision of where you want to be in 5 years. The difference between these two points is known as the “planning gap.” The strategic plan will include all of the steps required to get you from where you’re at today to achieving your vision. The strategic plan will normally cover a 3 to 5 year time frame.
This completes the goal-setting phase. Now we can start thinking about the strategies and action plans needed to complete the firm plan. We’ll discuss this phase in the next planning installment.