Like any well-managed law firm, you have a strategy. It was written after a lengthy process, perhaps assisted by an outside consultant. Partners wordsmithed it for hours, then approved it for your executive to implement. But like the merchandise on the bottom shelf, that strategy has been gathering some dust. Perhaps it has been overlooked for some shiny new object, like a prize lateral or client.
If you are a firm leader, try this brief test. Stop a random partner, other than a leader, and ask them these two questions:
- Can you describe one of our strategic goals?
- What measurement would you use to know if you helped achieve a strategic goal?
Most partners might refer to billed hours or increased originations. While those measures tell you something about the past results of strategy, they do not tell you about progress on an active forward-looking strategy. In short, we often work hard on writing the strategy, but ease up on implementation. Some other reasons that strategic plans falter are:
- There are too many goals in the first place; three to five is closer to what you want.
- There are no measurements at the practice group or individual level to assess the accomplishment of strategic goals.
- While the leadership wants collaborative work toward goals, partners continue to work in silos; think of your many attempts to promote cross-selling.
- Compensation is not aligned with the strategic goals, so even with measurements, partners are not rewarded for reaching them.
We have seen these issues over and over at Edge, and we offer a solution. We want your executive committee or a “strategy renewal committee” to consider spending a Strategy Day with one of our consultants. After some background study of your strategy and the areas you think are lagging, we will take a day with your team in order to:
- Do a “reality check” on how well you are progressing on strategic goals.
- Demonstrate examples of specific measurement of progress toward strategic goals (We’ve seen them work in other firms).
- Look for alignment of strategy with compensation and other recognition.
- Discuss with you some means to promote collaboration on strategic goals.
- Consider “tweaks” to your strategic plan (We don’t want to re-write it).
- Demonstrate how firm leaders incorporate strategy in daily communications, meetings and interaction with partners (We want to see your strategy back on the top shelf).
- Review any specific “pain points” that you think exist in the implementation of your strategy.
To go ahead with a Strategy Day is to make a modest ongoing investment in a plan that cost you a lot to produce. And failure to move forward on your strategic goals will be far more costly.
If you are interested in this initiative, email or call me and we’ll talk about the best match for your firm and one of our international team members.
David Cruickshank, Principal