posted by Arial Harland on Monday, December 05, 2016 in Unified Communications and IT Blog

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:

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.


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About The Author

Arial Harland is a Human Resources & Organizational Development Consultant with PathShare® HR Services Group at GreatAmerica Financial Services, where she enjoys fostering relationships with business owners by helping them with their organizational challenges. Arial joined GreatAmerica in 2014 and she is a certified AVA Analyst through Bizet Human Asset Management. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Sciences and Psychology at Coe College and her Master of Organizational Leadership through St. Ambrose University. She was named an industry “Difference Maker” in ENX Magazine in 2018. She was also one of six named as an industry “Young Influencer” in The Cannata Report in 2018. 

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