Some friendly skeptics questions to appraise a strategic plan by David H. Maister


(Note: Source is David H. Maister, Managing The Professional Services Firm, Free Press.)

1. What special capabilities do you plan to have that your best competitors cannot match?

2. Why can’t they match them?

3. What actions will you take to put these capabilities in place?

4. In what way are your investment priorities likely to be different from those of the

How do you know the clients will like what you’re planning? What field testing have
you done? What client input have you obtained?

6. Who will be in charge of executing each component of the plan?

7. Who was involved in the development of this plan? Is everyone in agreement? (Who
was not consulted? Do they have a role in executing the plan?

8. On whom will you be dependent for the execution of this plan? Do they have sufficient
incentive to do their part? Is it in their interests to do what you want? Do you have to
modify your reward systems to make this happen?

Specifically, which 5 or 10 clients, by name, represent your most likely source of
expanded business for the next few years? What actions do you plan to take to get
closer to these clients?

10. Which new clients are at the top of your priority list? Why? What makes you think you
can get their business?

11. What is the one most significant thing that each of the main competitors is doing that
will affect you? What do you plan to do in response?

12. In what way do you plan to take advantage of the firm wide network? How do you plan
to get the cooperation of others?

J. McNeil and Associates, Inc .. P.O. Box 3447 . Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 . (619) 7562136


13. How do you plan to contribute to the firm wide network? How will what you are doing
benefit them?

14. What are the staffing implications of your plans? Where will you get the staff from?

15. What are the main assumptions on which your plan is based? Which is the most
“risky”? (i.e., if it can go wrong, where will it go wrong?)

16. How will we know if the plan is working? What indicators can we agree on, and when
shall we review them?

17. What early warning signals will there be if the plan is not working? What contingencies
have you put in place?


J. McNeil and Associates, Inc .. P.O. Box 3447· Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067· (619) 756-2136


David H. Maister- some friendly skeptics questions to appraise a strategic plan

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