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An annual strategic planning process that involves a law department’s staff

Kenneth Fredeen, the General Counsel of Deloitte Canada, mentions in ACC Docket, June 2012 at 114, that he uses strategic planning as a management tool. In fact, “His staff participates in the exercise annually.” I have cast doubt on the value of strategic planning by a group that is essentially reactive to business needs (See my post of Dec. 15, 2005: doubts about law department strategic planning.) but there are different flavors of strategic planning.

Fredeen doesn’t say much about his flavor of process or outcome but it could be useful for a law department each year to pick one area of its operations and think how to reengineer it to be more efficient. Or, the department could ask each staff member to bring one operational improvement to the strategic planning meetings (See my post of Dec. 21, 2008: quarterly idea from each lawyer on outside counsel cost control.). The meetings could call through them and pick a few to work on during the coming year.

Strategic planning could involve scenario planning (See my post of Aug. 25, 2009: uses of scenarios in legal departments with 18 references.) or a SWOT analysis (See my post of Aug. 8, 2005: SWOT analyses with five criticisms of the method; Dec. 9, 2005 #1: SWOT review of large legal department discloses risk aversion; Jan. 13, 2006 #3: SWOT’s historical roots; and Nov. 5, 2007: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.).

In other words, the term “strategic planning” encompasses a wide range of possible activities, all of which are designed to keep the department thinking about how it runs and how it might run more smoothly in the future.