Asked and AnsweredBy John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMCQ. Our firm, a 12 attorney firm in Detroit, needs to find a way to improve fee revenues and financial performance in 2012. We do not have a business or strategic plan, have never had a retreat, and we don't even have a budget. We believe that we must do something for 2012 and yet we are out of time since 2012 begins next week. Any suggestions?A. Generating adequate fee revenue is the primary challenge for most law firms and this is where I would start for 2012.I am a strong believer in the power of focused goals and objectives when integrated with a system of accountability. I have clients that have improved fee revenue by 20% (over a two-three year period) with existing headcount simply by establishing production goals for each attorney and paralegal in the firm - reporting, measuring and reporting goal v.s. performance monthly using simple reports, and follow-up with individuals behind on their goal attainment. Solo practitioners can use the same system and use a staff member, spouse, or coach to serve as an accountability partner. You might want to consider the following:1. Ask each attorney and paralegal to provide SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and on a timeline - i.e 2012) goals for fee generation, fee origination, billable hours, etc.2. Review and discuss these goals with each member and engineer an agreement (commitment). Insure that there is adequate stretch - but that the goals are attainable.