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Amongst the many things we do in our consulting business, conducting a business development analysis or assessment for a firm is a particular favorite. The first question we ask is “Do you have a business development plan?” Assuming an answer in the affirmative (and no, we don’t always get a “yes” to that question) we move on with, “Well, tell me about it.” This is where the fun really starts!
Winging it V. Planning
While some lawyers can discuss their plan with some degree of clarity, there seems to be an ever growing number of attorneys who simply “wing it.” Sure, they often have an idea of a plan 'in their head' or they 'sorta-kinda’ have an idea of what they want, but those who are winging it rarely have anything written down, and certainly don’t have a definitive idea of how to achieve what loosely defined goals they may have. This ‘sorta-kinda’ gives us an idea of what business development results are going to look like at the end of the year for these clients!
Planning is, undoubtedly, the most BORING part of the business development process. Yet arguably it is the most important step in achieving stellar results. Just ask the top rainmaker in your firm about their planning process, and you’ll see… they don’t leave their results to chance.
If you have no plan of where you are going, and how you are going to get there, then how ARE you going to get there? And where is “there” anyway???
People underestimate how much time it takes to plan your business development activities. Think about it. How much time did you spend planning this week’s activities? Now, think about your last vacation. How much time did you spend planning it? If planning the vacation isn’t your family assignment, ask the person who is responsible, they’ll give you an earful I’m sure! Let's dive deeper into this. Here’s an example:
You’ve planned a one-week family vacation. First, you determined your destination, Disney World…let’s call this your goal. Next, you had to figure out, how to get there, where to stay and how to get around once you arrive. Additionally, you probably researched where to eat, highlights to see along the way, and all the things you want to do while you are there. You also had to consider and plan for packing, each family member’s needs (medicine?) and all travel logistics including travel documents and ID’s. ALL THAT and for only 1 week. Conservatively, let's say that took you 3 hours. 3 hours for 1 week. BUT THE PAYOFF IS AMAZING! Yep, it sure is. But that's because you had a plan!!! Alternatively, have you ever been on vacation somewhere unfamiliar, and wished you’d done a little more research or planning? I know I have!
So let’s bring it back to the here and now... how much time did you spend planning your business development for this month? In our experience, we’d assume probably not 3 hours, or anywhere to that level of detail. Why is that do you think?
Well, we hear lawyers say that they have an aversion to planning because it almost always gets derailed. Okay, fair enough, but let's talk about what happens then...
We, here at Wolf Management Consultants LOVE the Vacation movies. Clark Griswold and his entire family and their shenanigans on trips all over the globe. Great stuff. But, there is a moral to those stories...Clark had a plan. Albeit, most of the time that plan was foiled for our comic pleasure... but he had a plan. And, if you are a fan of the movies, you know that it always works out in the end. But can you imagine what would have happened to Clark and the family without a plan?!?! Oh, the horror!
So, here's our plea. Plan. As painful and boring and introverted as it may be for some lawyers... get your plan on paper. You will be so much more effective! Trust us... we know stuff!
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