How do you plan for the firm’s future? What process will achieve greatest results? What resources do you need to make informed decisions? How do you create change? How do you get buy-in within the partnership? And, how do you get all aspects of the firm aligned so that you can move the firm towards success in achieving its goals?
In the twenty years this author spent in senior management roles within law firms, the planning process varied from non-existent to a critical part of the firm’s culture. The planning process has a greater chance of success if it fits the leadership model.
In a strong-leader model a top-down approach fits the culture. In this model the chair and the executive takes on the task, charts the firm’s course and then communicates the vision, the strategic goals and the plans underway to execute on those goals.
In firms that have a strong consensus model, buy-in is critical. These firms may have more success with a bottom-up planning process. This planning process begins at the grassroots with practice groups, industry groups and offices working through a planning process that involves a much wider group of partners. Leadership provides a framework so that the work of all groups will ultimately fit into a plan for the firm. This may fit a consensus culture and have a better chance of success where partners have a hand in mapping out their future.