How to become a strategic thinker?
Whenever you hear the word strategy, your CEO is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, strategic thinking is not just for top-level management, but is required at every organizational level. It is one of the core competencies that employers are looking for in employees. Strategic thinking is a critical leadership skill considered when hiring and promoting. Therefore, it is a competence that every career lion must further develop. But what is strategic thinking exactly? And how can we work on our strategic thinking capabilities? Read further to find out what tips and tricks I discovered!
Strategic thinking is “the ability to come up with effective plans in line with an organization's objectives within a particular economic situation”. It is generating the options of what might happen, to enable the next steps of strategic decision making and planning. Strategic thinking is about developing strategies for the future.
Observing and Seeking Trends
You need to keep your eyes open for key information that can help you focus, prioritize and be proactive. This implies observing and seeking for trends, where it is:
- Important to seek for patterns on a day-to-day basis, looking for issues that get raised over and over again,
- Required to prioritize information and make trade-offs while analysing,
- Connect with peers in your organization and industry to share findings, and
- Translate your findings into corporate level strategies.
Asking the Right questions
By questioning information from different perspectives, you will unlock your strategic thinking capabilities. It is important to consider various possibilities, approaches, and potential outcomes. Example questions regard your objectives, constraints, realistic view of performance and capabilities, and expectation of the future environment. In terms developing a strategy, you could ask questions pointed at how to create value for your customer.
Reserve Strategic Thinking Time
Work has a tendency of leaving you with a packed schedule. Running from meeting to meeting and doing all of your work, however, most of us will forget to take the time for strategic thinking. Make sure you reserve a regular time slot to reflect, looking for trends and systematically asking questions. Preferably in the morning, when your brain is rested and fresh.
Challenge yourself and those around you
Be open to challenging point of views with peers. By debating on certain issues, you will sharpen your strategic vision. Make sure to have a clear set of decision-making criteria, to better cope whenever you don’t have all information at hand.
In order to gain perspective and test and challenge your worldview, it is crucial that you recharge your body and brain. Taking some time off to go on trips will greatly benefit your strategic thinking. A full on sabbatical might not be possible for you, but even a short holiday can do the trick. If you want to go low budget, you can also try to visit another part of town or area where you will be exposed to other ways of living and people with different world views.
It occurred to me that I was not doing enough strategic thinking. I know it’s part of the targets at work for the function levels above mine. Moreover, my new role in the main project I work on also demands more strategic perspective. As such, I was curious to know more and start developing this competence. Having done some research now, I know that I should reserve more time for strategic thinking. I will take a slot each week to work think strategically, either by myself or with peers. Off course, using these tips and tricks. The only thing I got covered now is the recharging part, seeing as I just got back from a holiday visiting Central America for the first time. Where I am well aware of our vision for the next few years, I should be more wary of our competitors and customer needs and work on further detailing the strategies.
Are you ready to apply some of these tips and tricks to improve your strategic thinking capabilities? And do you have any other suggestions or remarks? Share your view in the comment section below.