You may be asking yourself what is an extant strategy?
Before you reach for the thesaurus or your search engine of choice – I’ll explain. Can you look back on how you built your practice and see a pattern of intuitive decisions that led to your success? You may have consciously or subconsciously been mapping a particular path for your firm. This series of intuitive decisions is an example of extant strategy.
For further clarity, “‘extant’ is defined as patterns of decision making where a business leader is largely intuitive and often seen in retrospect.” In his book, Marketing the Professional Services Firm, the late great Laurie Young, characterized the “extant strategy as a popular, and often very successful strategy adopted by law firms.”
While an extant strategy may keep your firm flexible and open to new opportunities, there is a danger that you do not appear to have a plan for success.
Without having a clear understanding of your direction, you and your colleagues, may miss out on opportunities.
If a strategy is not written down or communicated, then there is no obvious way to measure what didn’t get done or what could have been done better.
How can you ensure the continued success of an extant (or in fact any) strategy?
Communicating a clear direction is attributed by Laurie Young as the key factor in the success of an extant strategy. I would add that as a leader you should do some retrospective analysis to understand your decision making process and use this knowledge to communicate your strategy clearly.
Understanding your success
Answering these questions will help you to identify the pattern of decisions that led to your current success:
- What people or situations presented you with opportunities?
- How did you evaluate whether to pursue the opportunities?
- What actions you took to move opportunities forward?
With this greater understanding of your decision making process you can establish how to capitalize on opportunities going forward.
Communicating your vision
Answering these questions will help you to develop a vision to inspire and motivate yourself and your colleagues:
- Where do you see your practice in 5 years?
- What can each of your colleagues do to contribute to this vision?
- How can you maintain a flexible approach to opportunities outside this vision?
When you outline a vision that provides a sense of direction, you can still maintain the flexibility of an extant strategy, by acknowledging the need to adapt to an evolving legal environment.
In a competitive legal market, running your practice cannot merely be seen as a series of coincidences. B2’s Business of Law Strategy Services can help you create, communicate and execute your strategy with the same flexibility that has served you in the past.