posted by Jennie Fisher on Monday, February 12, 2018 in Office Equipment Blog

Recently, I was at a Dealer meeting and Strategic Planning was a topic of conversation. One Dealer, who had been encountering some challenges within his business, explained why he decided to implement a Strategic Planning process. He shared that Strategic Planning helped his company solidify their vision, confront their obstacles, and create action plans to achieve their goals. 

Their story reminded me of this article written in 2016 by Arial Harland of our PathShare HR Services team. PathShare, who has offered Strategic Planning Services for several years, understands that not all strategic planning processes are created equal, and there are still some areas that challenge even the most accomplished business. As a company, GreatAmerica has completed Strategic Planning for over 14 years, and even we’ve fallen into these traps before. Keep these pitfalls of Strategic Planning top of mind as you begin to execute your 2018 growth goals.

(Blog originally posted on the GreatAmerica Unified Commuication and IT Blog on December 06, 2016 by Arial Harland.)

Tis the season! No, not the holiday season, although that will soon be here! For business owners and leaders it’s time to reflect on the past year, examine the competitive landscape, explore possible initiatives and set goals.

A good strategic planning process will help you:

  • align company goals with your company mission and vision
  • define steps to achieve these goals
  • assign responsibility and timelines
  • track progress toward this year’s goals but also take steps to achieve your 3-5 year goals

Pitfalls to Avoid in Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning can be a powerful process if done well. It can be the difference between driving straight to your business goals or taking a long, winding road to get there. As you look forward, consider these common pitfalls:

Pitfall #1: Inability to Say “No”

No company can do everything. Many ideas are brought to the table in a good strategic planning brainstorm session. The real challenge can come with saying “no” to some good ideas in order to prioritize a reasonable number of initiatives (4-6) that can be well executed in the coming years.  Many times, leadership teams unable to narrow the focus don't do well at any initiatives and hamper their overall business success. A good facilitator can help company leaders with this challenge.

Pitfall #2: Lack of Ownership

With 4-6 solid initiatives in hand, the team should be able to get back to the office and make things happen in a focused way, right? Wrong! There must be assigned accountability to connect plans to actions. Without specific action items assigned to people or departments, with expected timelines the strategic initiatives will not have accountability with forward momentum.

Resources: Click here to learn more about PathShare's Strategic Planning process and a short video on how it works! 

Pitfall #3: Communication

It’s not possible, nor desirable, to involve every employee in the development of the strategic initiatives, but employees work harder for something they feel a part of. It’s critical for broad communication of these new priorities to the whole company. By bringing their direct reports into the fold, senior leaders gain their commitment to the strategic initiatives, ensuring success.

Pitfall #4: Trying to do Everything Immediately

A good strategic plan usually includes multi-year initiatives. It can be tempting to try to front-load all the action items into the first few months, but doing this rarely works. The most effective plans are those which have realistic time and resource allocation.  


This season, give yourself a gift that keeps on giving; incorporate a strong strategic plan, avoid these common pitfalls and find yourself measurably closer to your destination.


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About The Author

Jennie Fisher, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Office Equipment Group, is responsible for sales, marketing, operations, and financial performance for this business unit. She has been involved in lease financing since 1989.Prior to joining GreatAmerica in 1993, Jennie worked for GE Capital. In her tenure with GreatAmerica, Jennie has held various leadership positions including Team Leader East Coast, Sales Director Office Equipment, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Vice President of Sales for the Office Equipment Group.Jennie earned her M.B.A. from the University of Iowa in May 2004.

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