Our company is in the business of helping law firms implement their Strategic Plan. Strategy should constantly evolve, and implementation should be an ongoing process. But when progress is gradual, many law firms lose focus, and their plans fizzle. Don’t do that! Your plan is critical to your overall success…so work it! Here are three ways to move your plan forward:
- Say it, and then say it again and again. This sounds simple. Most likely your plan was finalized with some fanfare, followed by an overview (done by leadership) in various meetings and solidified with an overview e-mail. You might have even given out a promotional item (a mouse pad) with your core message displayed as a reminder. All of these things are effective, but you can’t stop there. Communication of your firm’s overall values, goals, and plan of execution requires constant reinforcement.
To measure how you are doing, take a walk to an associate’s office and ask them how they feel the firm is progressing with its strategic plan. Do the same thing with a paralegal. If you get a blank stare, don’t be surprised. Those outside of leadership often don’t feel connected to the plan; but they should be. Consider their blank stare as an opportunity to hone your tactics for communicating the plan. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- Keep the firm’s values top-of-mind. Every decision made by the firm should be weighed against the overall values of the organization. Publish and promote them both inside and outside your firm.
Internally, short video messages sent via e-mail to the entire firm featuring people explaining what the firm’s core values mean to them, posters with value statements placed throughout the firm’s common areas and tee-shirts or any other similar items that can be given to everyone with the value statement prominently displayed are some great ways keep your values top of mind.
Make sure that your firm is using your core values to make strategic decisions. One way to keep your firm’s values top-of-mind is to post them atop the agenda of every group meeting.
Externally, your values should be included in your firm’s marketing materials and found on your firm’s website. Train your lawyers to discuss your core values with clients. Live your firm’s core values outside of the office. Remind your lawyers and staff that they represent the firm twenty-four hours a day. A single act of “stupid” done by a partner outside of the office can cause damage to your firm’s overall reputation and distort any conversation about what your firm’s values are in the future.
- Celebrate the accomplishment of the strategic plan’s goals. Everyone loves success, and even small achievements should be celebrated and communicated to everyone in the firm. This not only keeps everyone engaged, it gives your plan positive movement. Once there is movement, you gain traction and thereby achieve momentum.
For example, suppose you have a goal to improve client relationships by creating an online client survey. Once the survey has been implemented, host a pizza party for everyone so they can see the online survey, discuss how it will be used, and understand how it will affect client relationships. A little pizza goes a long way in creating excitement and a sense of team, so celebrate each achievement!
Strategic planning is a project. Strategic implementation is a process. A great implementation process can lead to wonderful transformation, but this takes time, leadership, accountability, and focus. Move your firm from planning to implementation. The results will be worth celebrating.