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COLUMN > A Note From the WSBA Executive Director


Strategic planning is an intentional investment in possibility and hope. Nerdy as it may be, I am here to make the case that “strategic planning” is not a synonym for “waste of time.” Rather, the process of strategic planning can help you identify what you really want to achieve, figure out what is getting in the way of achievement, and establish a roadmap that will help you get there. That roadmap is incredibly helpful, not just because it sets out next steps—which it does—but because it gives you a framework to measure your daily decisions against. Absent that, it’s like Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else!”

Here’s an example: My husband and I enjoy doing home-improvement projects and are constantly dreaming up new ideas. Over the years, the list of things we want to do has grown to nearly unmanageable proportions. Meanwhile, we have lots of competing priorities for our time—kids’ activities, full-time jobs, a desire to travel, and self-care, to name a few. In addition to the projects, we’ve got to be prepared for the expected unexpected: Our furnace is well past its prime. And why is there always water left in the bottom of our dishwasher? We know some critical bit of infrastructure is always on the brink of lifetime failure! As a result, when we start thinking about moving a project from the dream phase to the planning phase, we sometimes get overwhelmed or disagree about whether it’s the right choice in light of our other priorities. Fortunately, my husband is also a nerd about strategic planning (I know, I’m very lucky), so together we created a strategic plan for our home. We talked about the opportunities we see (finish projects the kids will enjoy before they leave the house) and the threats (we need to have enough money saved to replace critical infrastructure); we developed a shared vision for how much time we want to put into projects versus other things; and then we used those shared understandings to prioritize our to-do list and our budget. 

What I find so helpful about this process is that when I come across an Instagram ad for the perfect greenhouse kit, rather than relying on my judgment in that moment (which, at 11:45 at night when the house is finally quiet and I should be sleeping but instead am scrolling, is seriously questionable), I can check it against the plan and remind myself that I should be researching dishwashers instead. 

The challenge for the WSBA, like all other organizations, is not much different. An article in the August 1999 Washington State Bar News announced initial results after gathering feedback on strategic goals for the Bar: “The Long-Range Strategic Planning Committee developed a list of 234 issues of interest to members. Two-hundred and thirty-four—yikes! Almost a quarter of a century later, our current Board of Governors is wrestling with the same challenge: There are far, far too many things that we would like to do than there is time or resources to do them all. For the first time in many years, WSBA leaders are embarking on a strategic planning process with the intent of identifying shared goals and figuring out what success looks like and how to measure it.11 More information about the WSBA’s burgeoning strategic plan is online at; I also hope you can join us at an upcoming Listening Tour or Board meeting to provide input on goals. 

Overall, one of the greatest gifts of strategic planning is that it allows you to make a fully informed decision about what not to do. It’s an act of generosity and sanity to yourself and to your organization. It takes work to get focused on the handful of goals that will do the most to move you toward your mission; but when you give yourself permission to let go of non-critical initiatives, it feels … freeing. There’s an adage that “when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” My version is, “when everything is a possibility, nothing is a possibility.” In this complex world full of opportunities and threats, it takes intention and focus to truly envision what is possible and realize that future. 

Have I convinced you of the poetic qualities of strategic planning? Or at least of its utility? Regardless, we at the WSBA will continue in our own developing strategic planning cycle and will always welcome and solicit your input. I also invite you to take advantage of our Practice Management Assistance resources and begin down the path of strategic planning in your practice. 

Here’s to an investment in hope (and a new dishwasher)! 

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Get Help Setting Up Your Strategic Plan

Interested in a strategic business plan to help align your practices’ values, goals, and outcomes? Learn more about the benefits and get one-on-one advice via the WSBA’s Practice Management Assistance Program, online at or via Our Practice Management Advisor can also provide one-on-one confidential consultations with topics like business development and marketing, adopting and using legal technology, best practices for trust accounts and IOLTA, and buying, selling, and closing a law firm. You may schedule a consultation at

About the author

Terra Nevitt is the WSBA Executive Director and she can be reached at 206-727-8282 or:


1. More information about the WSBA’s burgeoning strategic plan is online at; I also hope you can join us at an upcoming Listening Tour or Board meeting to provide input on goals.