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Strategic Planning Series Part 1:

Traditional Strategic Planning v. EOS Model

I have been receiving many inquiries regarding help with Strategic Planning recently. Most, if not all, business people are familiar with the phrase. They have likely even gone through the process once or twice – or more. For attorneys, while the concept is not new, putting the concept into practice may be.

The traditional strategic planning model has many iterations, but most look something like this:

  • Vision and Mission. Create a vision for what the organization should look like and a mission for what we are hoping to accomplish.
  • Objectives. Define the results we are aiming for. Identify short- and long-term goals.
  • Strategy. Come up with a plan for how we are going to meet our objectives. A SWOT analysis (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) may be involved here.
  • Approach. Figure out how we will execute the long-term plan.
  • Tactics. Define smaller, focused action plans that will support the overall strategy.

A lot of investment is put into strategic planning meetings. Multi-day leadership retreats are planned around the process. In law firms this often means days of lost billable hours for several partners in addition to the travel and other expenses tied to the retreat. The meeting can be a great investment in building collaboration, identifying the items mentioned above, and making everyone feel positive about being on the same page.

And then … we all return to our busy practices and the street paved with those good intentions that we left the retreat with leads straight to … well, you know the rest.

It isn’t anyone’s fault. Everyone at the retreat really did have good intentions, and they really want to work the plan that they planned so hard to create. It is just really, really hard to keep the momentum going and keep things from falling by the wayside when we are all so very busy just keeping our heads above water with client demands, employee issues, billable hours goals, mentoring, training, etc.

That Doesn’t Mean You Should Give Up

There is a way to create a strategic plan that you can efficiently stay on top of. Enter Gino Wickman and his amazing book, Traction Get a Grip on Your Business. I was fortunate to work with a firm who worked through this process several years ago, and if Gino’s protocol is followed, it works.

Not Sure You Even Need Strategic Planning?

Maybe you don’t – maybe everything in your firm is working swimmingly. You have all of the right people in the right seats, everyone is meeting your expectations, your clients are happy and your bank account is full. If that is the case, maybe you are right – maybe you don’t need it. However if you are experiencing any of the common frustrations below that Gino outlines in his book, you may want to consider it:

  • Lack of control. You have no control over your time, and instead of controlling your business, your business is controlling you.
  • People. You have employees and clients who are frustrating you. They don’t seem to understand your expectations, and you are not all on the same page.
  • Profit. There isn’t enough of it. You are busy and you know you should be seeing a lot more financial reward for all of the work you are doing.
  • Ceiling. You have stopped growing, and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get to the next level.
  • Nothing is working. No matter what changes you have tried to address the issues you are experiencing, nothing seems to help, at least not for long.

One more that I will add: You have spent endless resources on strategic planning, and no matter how great it seems at the end of the process, you don’t end up with the results you were expecting.

If you are experiencing any of these issues, you may want to consider the EOS system (EOS stands for Entrepreneurial Operating System). A form of strategic planning in many ways, what is different about Gino’s system is that he provides the tools you need to not just develop a great plan but also work the plan so that you see the results you were intending.

In the following articles in this series, we will cover the elements of the EOS System and how it works:

  • Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO). Much like the traditional strategic planning protocol, this will help everyone in the firm focus on rowing the boat in the same direction, identifying many items that make your firm unique and defining your organization’s sweet spot to keep you focused in the areas in which you most excel.
  • People. We all know we want “A” players, right? But what does that mean for your organization? This process will help you to identify what characteristics you need to see in your organization and its different positions in order to have the right people in the right seats.
  • Data. Think KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). EOS helps you to create a scorecard of KPIs that will help you to efficiently keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization on a weekly basis.
  • Issues. Think “weaknesses” and “threats” from the SWOT analysis – what elements are getting in the way of getting things accomplished? What does your management team need to discuss in order to resolve these issues?
  • Process. Your way of doing business. For example, have you developed a database of institutional knowledge for your firm? If you haven’t, there are many issues that need to be addressed around this topic alone.
  • Traction. Traction refers to your organization gaining traction by having systems in place to move the ball forward. There are two disciplines to be developed to assist in this area: Rocks, which are clear 90-day priorities identified to keep the organization moving toward your short- and long-term goals, and implementing a Meeting Pulse at differing levels of your organization. Traction and EOS will help you to learn how to use the Rocks and Meeting Pulse in an efficient and effective way so that you are moving toward your goals without wasting time (aka “death by meeting”).

As we work through this series of articles, I am confident that, like me, you will see the enormous value this system can bring to your organization in not only developing but also successfully implementing a Strategic Plan.

For assistance with your strategic planning, contact For more information on the EOS system, check out Gino Wickman’s book Traction.