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Event Review: Lana Okerlund’s “Do the Work You Want: A Guided Strategic Retreat for Editors”

Written by Janice Love; copy edited by Emma Caplan

Does your editing career need an edit? Are you doing the kind(s) of editing you want to do? Are you gaining the value, whether monetary or otherwise, you want from the editing work you do?

These are all questions I had, and so Lana Okerlund’s offer to help via her guided strategic retreat for editors was worth the winter trip to Vancouver from Vernon!

About Lana

As a business consultant within the corporate world, Lana became highly proficient in the following process:

  1. Establishing strategic visions
  2. Creating performance objectives to make those visions a reality
  3. Determining quantifiable measures for those performance objectives
  4. Developing a list of actions to take in order to move closer to the performance objectives

Now, on the team of West Coast Editorial Associates, Lana naturally uses these skills in assessing and tracking her own editorial business. When she discovered that other editors (like me!) didn’t naturally undertake a similar review, she decided to offer her visioning skills to the BC branch of Editors Canada. The 13 of us in attendance, a mix of freelancers and in-house editors, were glad she did.

The review process

Our first step in the process, establishing strategic visions, set the planning cycle in motion. Lana encouraged us to daydream about different aspects of our editing business, including

  • what kind(s) of editing/writing/teaching we want to do;
  • what kind(s) of material or subject matter we want to focus on;
  • who we want to do it for;
  • where we want to do it; and
  • why we want to do it.

We then drafted a vision statement that would succinctly capture the big picture of where we wanted our business to go and what it would look like when it got there.

Next, in creating performance objectives, Lana gave an overview of four aspects to consider that related to our now established vision:

  • Financial—what is our current revenue, cost efficiency, and profitability?
  • Customer—how do clients see us? Are we winning the clients we want?
  • Internal—how efficient are we? What are the quality of life issues? What do we need to be good at?
  • Learning/growth—how do we continue to improve?

We drafted performance objectives for each of these aspects, and then, we pinpointed performance measures and targets we could use to help clearly determine what our accomplished objectives would look like. (For example, a specific objective might be to increase the yearly profit by 20% or attend two or three professional conferences each year.) Lana then reviewed a number of different tracking tips and tools we could use to help measure different aspects of our work.

Finally, we reflected on and wrote down the concrete actions we could take to move closer to our performance objectives and ultimately, our vision for our work.

The end result

Many of us had aha moments while working through the planning cycle with Lana’s professional guidance, so I highly recommend this strategic retreat to all editors and also plan to repeat the process myself on a regular basis.


Janice Love, B.Ed., MPS, is a freelance editor working from Vernon, BC, in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. She holds an editing certificate from SFU and runs Love Editing, doing a mixture of business editing, plain language teaching, writing, and fiction editing for middle-grade and young adult readers. She enjoys biking on the Okanagan Rail Trail, jumping in Kalamalka Lake, and eating tree-ripened fruit.

Emma Caplan edits client-facing documents and takes pride in making them sales-ready and reader-friendly. She has additional experience in writing, quality control, and proofreading. For more than eight years, Emma has worked in the business consulting and professional services sectors, producing documents such as reports, proposals, articles, marketing material, and project qualifications. Emma has also earned a certificate in editing and a bachelor of management degree. In her free time, Emma enjoys hiking, travelling, and creating jewelry. Connect with her on LinkedIn, or browse through her shop on Etsy.

Image by Canva

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