Start with the End in Mind

Blog by Julian Summerhayes. 572 words.

This message is hardly new.

Indeed, for those aficionados of Stephen R Covey this message chimes with Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind.

For most people, thinking about long-range planning just seems too daunting.

Heaven knows it is hard enough to predict what is going to happen today, let alone in 10 or 20 years time.

But the truth is that all of us have a picture of how things ought to turn out. What the rubric belies though is the intense will, drive and passion it takes to bring to bear your vision on your day-to-day existence.

Right now the practice of law is swimming in an ocean of uncertainty. If it’s not the market, then the threat of increased competition is enough to keep everyone bathed in panic.

My thing is social media. In fact, to be more specific it is knowledge transfer to enable you to integrate the tools into your practice, use your KM and people skills for maximum financial return. I recognise that there is a smattering of gobbledygook with the pitch but my vision – yes I do have it written down – is to see every firm embrace the appropriate social media tools, to connect with their audience and to generate more (profitable) business for the firm. And yes I do have the beginnings of an exit strategy even though the business has yet to really find its feet.

But when I ask lawyers in practice why law or what they want out of their firms, many of them stare at me with a vacant expression. The thing is that most of them haven’t given it a moment’s notice save to the extent that they seem obsessed with the income possibilities.

Now is the time to plan. You may never get another chance.

Plan at the collective and individual level.

What is your vision for the firm?

How big will it be?

What sort of work will it be doing?

What sort of clients will you act for?

What sort of clients will you not act for?

How many lawyers do you need?

Will you have offices?

Will you outsource or on-source your work?

Will you need to raise capital for the growth plans?

How will you raise it?

Where will you go to for outside help?

How will you deliver better service than your nearest competitor?

What will make you stand out and be noticed in your market?

How will you deal with succession issues?

How will you win back the trust of the staff?

How will you remunerate people so that they bring all their passion to work?

How will your values win you work?

Could they lose you work?

And so on.

This is not some sterile, form-filling exercise. It is the most important task you can undertake. It may sound churlish but you wouldn’t dare get on a train if you didn’t know where it was headed.

Start asking more about Why and less about What or even How. The Why question is not easy but it sure does distinguish the firms that have serious intent from those that wish to run their practice as if it were a hobby.

If you need inspiration then go and check out how great businesses are run. They start with the end in mind, work out where they are now and then seek, every day, to close the gap?

Are you doing that? If not, why not?

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