By: Arial Harland on July 15th, 2021
Four Common Pitfalls in Strategic Planning
Originally published 12/4/2016. Updated on 7/15/21.
For business owners and leaders, strategic planning is the time to reflect on the past year, examine the competitive landscape, explore possible initiatives, and set goals. But the idea of strategic planning can feel overwhelming - especially if you don't have a good process and method for facilitation. So what does a good process look like? And what pitfalls should you avoid?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:
Strategic Planning 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.
Strategic Planning 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.
Strategic Planning 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.
Strategic Planning 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. Contact PathShare to discuss your needs and create a clear path to your organization's success.
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Arial Harland is a Human Resources professional leading GreatAmerica Financial Services Talent Acquisition efforts, where she provides strategic leadership in the areas of employment branding, position advertising, candidate sourcing, employment testing, interviewing, assessments, and college relations. Arial is certified by the Society for Human Resource Management as a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), and she is a certified AVA Analyst and Predictive Index master. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Sciences and Psychology at Coe College and her Master of Organizational Leadership through St. Ambrose University. Arial was named an industry “Difference Maker” in ENX Magazine and was also named as an industry “Young Influencer” in The Cannata Report in 2018.