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Always have a Plan B for your strategic plan

By Julious P. Smith Jr, Chair Emeritus, Williams Mullen

1 February 2016

Mike Tyson once said: 'Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.' Although that can perhaps be more artfully stated, the premise applies to law firms as they engage in strategic planning. Firms spend months creating a strategic plan. They interview partners and hire consultants. Finally, they draft a plan. Unfortunately, lawyers do a better job of planning than of executing. That is true even when things go well, but what happens when they get punched in the mouth? What happens when an unforeseen event derails the plan? Then either the plan disappears, or the nimble, well-led firms regroup and stay the course.

Strategic plans require a great deal of time and thought, and that time and thought rarely focuses on rainy day scenarios. Firms usually assume a never-changing world. The plan envisions a beautiful trip through the countryside with a great reward at the end. Rarely does it contemplate the c...

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