“As governments, we stumble from crisis to crash program, lurching into the future without plan, without hope, without vision.”
Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave
How many firms have a vision? A clearly articulated vision for the next 5+ years? And not one that is replete with gobbledygook but one that all staff understand and believe in?
Please, please, please none of the “… the best law firm in the world” stuff. You can’t all be the best.
Different, unique, remarkable. I get all those. But not … “the best”.
How will you stand out from the crowd?
Does your brand look and feel like every other brand in your sector?
Do your people understand what makes the firm different, or even better still unique (at least in the client’s mind)?
What is your strategy to grow the business?
What sectors do you see having the greatest potential?
Have you got the right people on the right seats on the bus (see Good to Great by Jim Collins)?
Do you have a financially viable model?
What are the succession issues?
Which areas are under-performing but with modest investment in people etc have the greatest potential for growth?
Does your culture foster innovation? If not, how are you going to change things?
How can you get better at delivering more for less?
Does the current brand support all the service offerings?
In my experience business planning is not prioritised. It is either left to the last minute or done so poorly as not to matter. Most planning that a firm does is short term and is guided by the numbers: WIP, unpaid bills, lock up and bills rendered. But no one ever said to me, “Where are we against the business plan”?
The most important aspect to business planning is to have a clear vision for the firm – AND TO BELIEVE IN IT.
If you don’t believe in your vision, and I mean really, truly, madly, insanely believe, you won’t do what is necessary to make it happen. And neither will your people. They will be able to see right through you.
You need to be able to distill things down into a form that everyone understands. If you are trying to position yourself in the market as ‘this’ or ‘that’ make sure that your staff don’t confuse you with someone else, see you as a ‘me too’ brand or don’t believe in a million years with the current management team that you will ever get there.
Finally, rather than trying to plot things by reference to what your competitors are doing or the changes in the market look at what you do well, what you are known for and see how you can build on these. Even the best brands like Heinz, Johnson & Johnson and Mars don’t stop working on getting better.