I am going to make a rash assumption that you have already defined yourself (your beliefs, values and purpose for being). How about your business (OK, another assumption is that you own or help run a business)? Have you defined what values will drive your business? What is the purpose of your business? Before we (the Catalyst Group) get started on a strategic plan I always ask and I am frequently amazed at the answers. Following my question I usually get a question in response – why does that make a difference?
Let’s look at some possibilities. You have or a partner in a law firm. What do you deliver and who or what creates that deliverable? The answer to that question is usually several different things. One way to prioritize your list is by using the relative return on investment expected from each. One segment of your business is driven by cases referred to you by other law firms that they retain some ownership in. Another aspect of the business would be cases that you own. In both aspects of the business your goal would be to provide client satisfaction. In the first example the “client” was the referring law firm and in the second the client was the person referred within the case.
Now we get to the route of the concern when it comes to strategic planning. Who or what creates the deliverable? Is it a single person (as in the lawyer) or is it a combination of lawyer, case management and paralegal staff support (as in the firm). When you look at the primary provider (lawyer or firm) is it the reputation, the skill, the visual effect, the efficiency, or something else that provides the best return on investment?
When you look at client satisfaction I would suggest that you are better off looking at client dissatisfaction keeping in mind who or what creates your deliverable. If you can address all the potential sources of dissatisfaction I suspect you will have met your goal. Knowing what concerns to address and what processes produce your deliverable is the second input needed to do a good strategic plan.
The next time you get asked: what do you deliver (what do you do, what do you sell, etc.) be ready with an answer that your true “client” can relate to. After our seminars I have seen many creative answers to that question. Here are a few I liked.
- We (our firm) provide peace of mind. This was a personal injury law firm dealing directly with plaintiffs.
- We (our firm) provide the best return on investment in terms of revenue, time and quality. This was a law firm that handled referred cases where the ownership was fully or partially kept by the referring law firm.
- I provide personal attention, integrity and an honest outcome for my clients. This was a single attorney handling domestic cases.
A strategic plan is nothing more than gathering your wish list, looking at your resources, identifying where you are now and defining the best course of action to get to where you want to be. Oh, and lighten up out there. Add some joy into that plan along the way. So far I have not seen any composite deliverable that had any mention of having fun, being a source of a smile, or a we brighten your day statement.