What Data Tells Us about Strategic Planning vs. Focusing on Fundamentals

by Alycia Sutor /

We know that the recent BTI and AmLaw reporting about client satisfaction with AmLaw 200 firms is getting a lot of attention and sparking conversations among law firm leaders. We first wrote about it here. And, as with so much of the data we read about today, there’s a certain confirmation bias in how people are receiving it. If they’re focused on big-picture strategic initiatives for their firms already, they see this as demonstrating the value of those efforts. If they’re not, they feel justified in saying that the biggest gains in business come from those “brass tacks fundamentals,” and that no strategy is better than just being good at doing your work and serving clients.

But GrowthPlay’s deep experience in the market has shown us that there is no either/or. No amount of competent blocking and tackling can ever totally compensate for a lack of strategy. And no strategy will win the day without solid execution. Moreover, the work—tactical and strategic—has to happen at three levels at once:

1.     At the individual level, to instill and build client service and business development skills in individual contributors.

2.     At the team level, to support a collaboration and creation of a team that helps a group of people execute a common plan.

3.     At the firmwide strategic planning level, to develop a view of where the firm’s growth drivers lie and how the firm should get, grow, and guard work. Then, crucially, all members of the firm must agree to and align their work with this plan.

These three building blocks of individual, team, and firmwide plan development are the interdependent pieces that generate the greatest growth, client satisfaction, and loyalty metrics with our clients. While the data in this recent research offers powerful guidance for firm leaders, we all must take care that it doesn’t lead us to a narrow conclusion. Your firm should—and can!—confidently manage the fundamentals of providing excellent service and create visionary strategic planning that drives growth.