Three Cheers for Bruce!!
I can't help but add my "huzzah"s and "amen, brother"s to Bruce MacEwen's post today (pundit and creator of Adam Smith, Esq.) about the one absolutely essential criterion to growing a practice--strategic planning. Do not let yourself groan for even one minute. If you can keep your mind open for just a minute, I'll tell you how this can actually be fun and rewarding.
What Bruce hints at but doesn't just nail is what I have been preaching to my candidates and to law firms for ages: planning is not "an event"--no! It is a gestalt--a way of being, a continual process. Think "happiness through continual planning" or "zen and the art of law firm planning." What do I mean?
Just this. The point of strategic planning is NOT that you need to "block out" an hour, day, week or month, to "knock that out" (or create a subcommittee if you can afford to have people "do" for you). Neither is the point that you need fancy metrics or high-priced consultants (but, you SHOULD be paying me big bucks for this). The point is that you already as a partner have what you need to make and continuing update a plan for dramatic growth, or for meeting and exceeding what "success" is for you.
Get it into your mind that planning and strategizing is continual, first and foremost. Secondly, however, it is a process that is reduced to a writing--many writings, a living document as it were. If you will, your professional plan (marketing plan, what have you) is like your personal (or firm) "constitution". But don't take the analogy too far--the point is that you have a living testament to you or your firm's highest ideals and aspirations, and fleshed out into specific goals, plans of attach, things to do, markets to exploit.
If you as a partner (or especially, yes!, an associate) can get your head around the fact that "doing" the work includes continual and contemporaneous "analysis" of the work, "strategizing" about the work, "mulling" over the work, then you will be already head and shoulders above your office-mate, fellow partners and competition. ANYONE can and does do this work, at least to some extent. But most allow it to degenerate into amorphous "shoulds", "woulds", etc. They don't take the bull by the horns and let it all hang out on paper, and then take the effort and time to slowly but surely--and consistently, turn one's thoughts into a plan and then into action.
If you think about it, action is only one small part of planning. If you plan the work, the actual steps taken will become de-mystified, natural, and obvious--and probably alot better targeted and effective. And, to boot, you will find that "planning" and "acting" on that plan are not just "add-ons" to your already full plate--but a pleasure, and a satisfying corollary to your "usual" vocation.
Click here for Bruce's great exposition on the details involved in strategic planning. Click here for my own further thoughts and suggestions about how to put your dreams into a vibrant reality.
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