This article first appeared in Marketing the Law Firm, an ALM/Law Journal Newsletters publication reporting on the latest and most effective strategies for Chief Marketing Officers, Managing Partners, Law Firm Marketing Directors, Administrators, and Consultants.

The business landscape over the last few years has been changing at an ever-increasing speed, and 2024 promises to be no different. To effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities that present themselves, leaders need to adopt a fresh approach to strategic planning.

How Should Legal Industry Leaders Approach Strategic Planning Differently?

Here are some considerations leaders should take into account when embracing a strategic planning exercise:

1. Embrace dynamic, agile planning: Traditional, long-term plans do not hold up in today’s fast-changing and, at times, volatile environment. Leaders need to adopt agile methodologies, with shorter planning cycles and a focus on adapting quickly to changing circumstances. Focus on priorities and guardrails rather than detailed long-term plans.

2. Focus on cultivating resilience: The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” Another definition is “bouncing forward” after a stressful, challenging, or difficult situation. In other words, resilience is about taking what is thrown at you and coming out better, stronger, and more creative. Resiliency is about asking ourselves:

  • How can I bend but not break?
  • How can I take this moment in time to get better, not bitter?
  • How can this time of transformational change add to my personal development and growth?

On an individual level, the more resilient we are, the faster we will recover. The same is true for our businesses. A strategic plan, therefore, should incorporate business resilience strategies that will allow the firm to anticipate, prepare for, respond, and adapt to disruptions to maintain continuous operations.

3. Plan with transparency: Being open and transparent throughout the planning process will help to cultivate valuable buy-in from those who will ultimately be tasked with the strategy execution. Transparency is particularly important for the younger generations of professionals – especially Gen Z. “Today’s younger workers have grown up with the belief they have an inalienable right to participate and have their voices heard wherever they find themselves in life; and smart managers are encouraging their people to find their voices at work,” writes Adrian Gostick, who covers organizational culture, mental health, and employee engagement for Forbes magazine. Communicating the “why” behind the strategies helps to build trust and engagement, ensuring that the strategy will actually be implemented. Being transparent, however, doesn’t mean sharing everything. As Martin G. Moore pointed out in his Harvard Business Review article, “How Transparent Should You Be with Your Team?”: “Confidential information should only be shared on a need-to-know basis. It’s simply not appropriate to be transparent with everyone about everything. This advice applies to managing up, sideways, and down.”

Which Strategic Planning Framework Promotes Agility?

Ask ten consultants what the best strategic planning framework is, and you will get ten different answers. And they will all be right in their own way. In other words, there are numerous frameworks that can help you develop your strategy and set clear goals. But setting goals is just half the battle. You also want a system that helps you stay agile so you can adapt when circumstances change unexpectedly, make clear execution decisions, and measure progress.

That’s why at LeadWise, we love the OKRs framework, which stands for Objectives and Key Results.

The best and the simplest definition of the OKRs comes from the book “Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs” by John Doerr:

“An Objective is simply what is to be achieved, no more and no less. By definition, objectives are significant, concrete, action-oriented, and (ideally) inspirational. When properly designed and deployed, they’re a vaccine against fuzzy thinking – and fuzzy execution.

Key Results benchmark and monitor how we get to the objective. Effective KRs are specific and time-bound, aggressive yet realistic. Most of all, they are measurable and verifiable. (As prize pupil Marissa Mayer would say, “It’s not a key result unless it has a number.”) You either meet a key result’s requirements, or you don’t; there is no gray area, no room for doubt. At the end of the designated period, typically a quarter, we declare the key result fulfilled or not. Where an objective can be long-lived, rolled over for a year or longer, key results evolve as the work progresses. Once they are all completed, the objective is necessarily achieved. (And if it isn’t, the OKR was poorly designed in the first place.)”

How many Objectives are enough?

Typically, aiming for three to five Objectives for the year strikes the right balance. While it might be tempting to include additional Objectives, doing so usually proves counterproductive. An excess of Objectives can dilute your attention from what truly matters, leading you to become sidetracked by less important opportunities.

What about the Key Results?

Your Key Results should be succinct, specific, and measurable. Completion of all Key Results must result in attainment of the Objective. If not, it’s not an OKR. As for the number, shoot for having no more than three to five Key Results per each Objective. Otherwise, your plan will be unfocused and ineffective.

To give you a sense of what an OKRs-based goal setting looks like, let’s review the following examples of OKRs for a Real Estate practice group of a high-growth mid-size firm:

Do not be surprised if the strategic planning process takes time and effort. Ideally, you are developing the OKRs as a group/team or, at the very least, with input from other group members. You should expect several iterations. Your goal is to develop aspirational Objectives and clear, measurable Key Results.

Once you developed your OKRs, each morning, ask yourself, “These are our Objectives and Key Results, and what are we doing today to move things forward?” Your OKRs will keep you focused on the execution of the right actions, ultimately leading to the achievement of your objectives.

How Should You Track Execution and Measure Progress?

Once the OKRs are established, you’ll need a tool that can help you manage your execution process, track progress, and measure results. While there is a variety of paid applications that can help you do that, sometimes a trusty spreadsheet is all you need.

At LeadWise, we developed a Google Sheets-based OKRs Planner and Action Tracker tool. It allows you to record your OKRs and engage in quarterly execution tracking and measuring, all in one place.

This tool incorporates another great planning/execution approach, popularized by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington’s book, The 12-week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months. Essentially, it’s a quarterly-based planning and execution approach that can be applied to business or personal goals.

If you are interested in getting a complimentary copy of LeadWise OKRs Planner and Action Tracker, please email us at

Happy planning!