Strategic thinking skills tops the foremost highly sought-after management competencies. You may ask why? It facilitates employee’s capability of thinking critically, logically, and this can have an incredible impact on a business and life growth.
For so many years now “strategic thinking” has been reserved for executive team meetings or board rooms as a part of a company’s strategic planning process. Well, the highly dynamic environments we operate in today has created the assumptions and agreements that form the idea of strategic plans that shift dramatically between these highly structured planning process.
Strategic thinking capabilities should be relied upon frequently and sometimes informally to take care of and possibly accelerate performance against long-range goals. Even as the captain of an outsized sailing ship depends on the crew to assess and act on given changing forces and challenges that arise on their journey. So too should any leadership team be ready to depend upon their managers to explore, evaluate and choose the way to make changes and still keep the firm on track to realize its long-set goals.
What is Strategic thinking?
Strategic thinking is simply said to be any skills that allows you to use critical thinking to unravel complex problems and plan for the longer term. These skills are essential to accomplish both business and life objectives, overcome obstacles, and address challenges—particularly if they’re projected to take weeks, months, or maybe years to accomplish.
Strategic thinking places focus and attention on finding and developing unique opportunities to make value by enabling a provocative and artistic dialogue among people that can affect a company’s direction, i.e. the management and other staff’s. It’s the input to strategic planning. A sound strategic thinking exposes potential opportunities for creating value and challenges assumptions about a company’s value proposition, in order that when the strategic plan is made, it targets these opportunities.
Strategic thinking is actually a way of understanding the elemental drivers of a business and challenging conventional brooding about them, in discussion with others. To further explain, strategic thinking has an awareness of what has not yet taken shape, having foresight. Therefore, boards should encourage forward thinking.
Strategic thinking is just an intentional and rational thought process that focuses on the analysis of critical factors and variables which will influence the long-term success of a business, a team, or a private company.
Strategic thinking comprises of being careful and the deliberate anticipation of threats and vulnerabilities to protect against opportunities. Ultimately strategic thinking and analysis cause a transparent set of goals, plans, and new ideas required to survive and thrive during a competitive, changing environment. This type of thinking must account for economic realities, economic process, and available resources.
Strategic thinking necessitates research, analytical thinking, innovation, problem-solving skills, communication and leadership skills, and decisiveness. Most of the time, it’s difficult to be strategic. But a strategic thinker is usually checking out the weird – something that’s different – and is in a position to line assumptions aside. They intentionally check out things from different perspectives and most times resist the urge to let one decision dictate or forecast future decisions, thus avoiding the sunk cost trap.
An individual who has strategic perspective creates clarity out of complex and seemingly disconnected details. They will feel the winds of change, sense points of conflict and opportunity and articulate in concrete and compelling terms how they will be addressed. They get to the guts of a drag and see the connection between key elements.
Benefits of being a strategic thinker
• It enables you identify various options to realize the same goals
• Help to simplify complex problems by breaking them right down to digestible elements
• You get to understand the worst-case scenarios that helps you prepare for adverse outcomes
• Measure risks to prioritize options to be taken
• Reduce the margin of errors or chaos
• Embrace and confront unknowns once they happen
• View a point or situation from multiple perspectives
The importance of strategic thinking
Strategic thinking is an ongoing, year-round process in business and life in general. At the heart of strategic thinking is the ability to anticipate major shifts within the competitive marketplace and identify emerging opportunities.
Below are a number of the importance of strategic thinking:
- Limited resources
Having to deal with limited resources, people and time is a fact of life for all businesses, even giant companies. Strategic thinking helps every business owner to work out the way to use these resources most effectively and advance the company toward its main objectives. Strategic thinking places it’s focus on the management team on markets that are presumably to succeed. Strategic thinking enables the company to avoid costly mistakes, like opening a retail shop in a location before the customer population is large enough to support the growth of the business.
2. The Changing Environment of business
Every business is suffering from change. New competitive threats arise. Change within the national and native economy affect the spending power of a company’s customers. The costs of materials or inventory rise unexpectedly and rapidly. The environment creates opportunity, too. New markets open up. Competitors that falter can create a chance to get market share from them. Strategic thinking is a mindset of preparing for these changes in the environment and having plans set aside to affect them. Reacting quickly enables the company to take advantage of opportunities and minimize the damage of unforeseen negative situations.
3. Matching Competitors & Strengths
Business has been likened to a game of chess, with strategic moves of the chess pieces determining the result. The analogy is merely partially accurate, because in business all sides doesn’t start with an equivalent number of pieces, and therefore the size of the board constantly changes. Companies that are sound in strategic thinking are continually evaluating their business strengths and weaknesses versus those of key competitors.
They prepare for the proper time and best means to attack stronger, better capitalized competitors. They struggle to tilt the chess board in their favor by taking a critical check out where they will improve their products, service levels and therefore the message they send to the marketplace.
4. The need for growth
Businesses are always under the pressure to grow. Growth simply means higher profitability and greater returns for the owners. It also means the company/business is succeeding within the competitive environment. Strategic thinking forces companies to acknowledge that they can’t afford to stay still. They need to be innovative with evey aspects of the operation of the business. A company content tries to do things in same way year after year usually finishes up losing market share to companies that aren’t scared of change.
5. Improved decision making
Business owners today that make strategic thinking a central component of their management philosophy often become better strategic thinkers as time goes on. They find out how to acknowledge subtle changes within the business environment which will have an immediate impact on their revenues–things they’ll have missed before. They become better at predicting how competitors are likely to react to the strategies they implement. They start to look at the business as their customers see it, and formulate strategies in order that they do a more capable job of reaching new potential customers. Strategic thinking helps a business owner to think and plan more logical, confident decisions.
6. Placing focus on solving problems
Strategic thinking also encourages you to have an extended view of your company’s business model and operations. A company could have persistent operational problems that prevent it from maximizing success, so you and your employees must think critically about the basic causes of problems. For instance, you’ll study overhead costs like printing paper stickers for your business and trying to find the major reasons why your business these papers get exhausted before the estimated time. Then you’ll revise your policies and procedures of printing these stickers so that you longer drain on your overhead budget.
Strategic thinking skills for life and business development
1. Master the act of prioritizing your business and personal development focus and activities. It’s not everything in life that demands equal attention or weight. Remember that over 75% of the things in business or personal life that you simply do is simply “noise”.
2. You would like to be intent and outcome-focused. You ought to be extremely determined and less distracted than anyone else who is doing what you’re doing or are competing with you – remember again – this is applicable to you as an individual or as a business person. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying intent and outcome-focused on personal or business ideas either.
What this essentially means is that you simply should use all of your energies and resist distractions as because it is required to win and achieve a business or personal goal.
3. You want to always question all assumptions and previously held beliefs. Get a blank sheet of paper and write down question why! Again, any idea, whether it’s business or personal development, you’ll need to always question why!
4. Learn to say “no” and to question “why not?” The major elements of every strategic thinking skill aren’t to assume others have thought through it. This is applicable whether it’s a new idea in business or your personal life.
5. You want to learn to see and think through multiple scenarios. These scenarios should include the good, the bad and also the ugly. Have it in mind that the planet isn’t a bed of roses. Whether you’re in a leadership position or not. Not necessarily for business or personal development alone. Have a multiple scenarios and outcome views on any situation. In this way, you’re better prepared.
6. You want to master and internalize the art of reflection and introspection. This will definitely require you to consciously review all of your business and personal experiences, actions, feelings, and responses.
7. be “hypothesis-driven”. Good strategic thinking leaders have to force themselves to think through the simplest hypothesis to any business or personal problem or scenarios.
8. Also, have an intelligent opportunism – This might sound sort of a big word. All it simply means is that as an honest strategic thinking practitioner, you ought to be ready to critically analyze be alert and aware of good personal and business opportunities that comes across your way.
9. Be ready to “think in time” – this is often a really important skill to recollect – in essence, this requires you to mix your thinking of the past, present, and future at an equivalent time in order that you’ll make better business or personal decisions. This will assist you to find ways to execute anything that you simply do in your business or personal life much faster. Also, remember that a lot of strategic thinking “experts” do not mistakenly think that strategic thinking is driven by future intent only.
10. Finally, you would want to have an end-to-end systems perspective. In strategic thinking, you would like to possess a mental model of an end to finish system of incremental value creation for your personal or professional life. This in essence would require you to possess a transparent understanding of your role and the other capabilities required within each of these personal or business systems.
So, there you’ve got it. You’ve now developed a group of skills to demonstrate a strategic thinking mindset. You recognize what’s strategic thinking. And you’ll apply these strategic thinking skills to any of your business and personal life issues or problems. So, go and be a winner and have a strategic mindset in whatever you are doing. Always recognize what percentage of samples of strategic thinking and the way and why it’s applied!
A strategic thinker is structured, purposeful, and deliberate and connects the dots of the past, this and therefore the future to possess a winning outcome in your business or personal life.
How to improve your strategic thinking skills
1. Ask relevant Strategic Questions
If you would like to enhance your strategic thinking skills, one among the important things you can do is ask more strategic questions. In doing this, it allows you to exercise your planning skills, become adept at spotting opportunities, and develop a more strategic mindset you’ll leverage throughout your career or business life.
In a report written by Harvard graduate school Online course Disruptive Strategy, strategic questions can relate to a challenge, opportunity, or ambiguity you face in your current situation, whether personal or professional. they could, as an example, relate to introducing a new business or product, beating a competitor, or structuring your organization for innovation.
It’s very necessary that your questions relay to your role and responsibilities so you’ll act on them.
Some samples of strategic questions you would possibly ask include:
• How to Strategically position yourself or business to go into a new market?
• What’s the direction for growth for every of our products or services?
• Where will the company’s growth come from within the next five years, and how does it compare with where growth has historically come from?
• How should the organization answer the threat presented by potentially disruptive competitors?
2. Carefully Observe and Reflect
After you must have asked the strategic questions, you would like to answer and address them skillfully. One among the foremost effective ways of accomplishing this is often to watch and reflect on your current situation, ensuring any strategy you conceive is backed up with facts.
Take for instance, imagine that the business you’re employed for has begun losing market share for one among its products among its traditional customers. And at the same time, it’s gained market share from a completely new customer base. It’s easy to assume why this could be happening, but doing so can lead you down the wrong path at a critical moment in your company’s existence.
So, instead of blindly following an assumption, gather the maximum amount of information as possible to use when crafting your strategy. For instance, this might include conducting user interviews with new customers to spot the various jobs they hire your product to perform.
Understanding why new customers are interested in your product can enable you to tailor down your marketing strategy and merchandise development to embrace their needs.
3. Put into consideration opposing Ideas
The moment you’ve landed on a technique which will help your organization reach its goals, question your assumptions, and put your hypothesis through rigorous testing. By doing so, you’ll ensure you’re not overlooking another possibility.
Playing devil’s advocate together with your ideas can allow you to pre-emptively identify weaknesses in your argument, and equip you to defend your strategy when others ask questions. It also can assist you sharpen the logic skills you would like to take in executing your strategy.
In order to develop this skill, develop and master the habit of questioning yourself any time you’re close to make an assertion. Do you have to consider a special perspective? Is there another possibility you’ll have overlooked?
4. Take and master Formal Training
By constantly practicing the methods described above, you’ll improve your strategic thinking skills at your own pace. However, there are other learning options you’ll pursue.
If you would like to quickly build up your strategy skills—to address a pressing need your company/business is facing, position yourself for a new role, or finally launch your own business—formal training could be your best choice.
Take for instance, by enrolling within the online course Disruptive Strategy, you’ll discover the way to make innovation a reality for your organization. Over five weeks, you’ll study the roles to be done, framework and disruptive innovation theory, and build skills to spot and execute high-level strategy.
5. Understand the results
All decisions have consequences. After taking note of ideas and points of view, carefully consider the potential impact of everyone. What are its pros and cons? Which one can presumably assist the meet its goals? This step will assist you make an informed decision, and over time, making the strategic choice will come naturally.
Mastering the art of strategic thinking will do quite a good job in creating and developing better ideas or improve your decision-making. Once you encourage employees to think more critically, you build a framework that creates a far better leader, protects your business from future uncertainties, and provides you an optimal chance of achieving long-term career success.
One of the items that most succeeding CEOs and senior executives ask themselves regularly is how they will encourage strategic thinking across their company. It’s not an easy matter to hand over to their employees, “I want you to start out thinking more strategically.” This directive isn’t specific enough to get them started within the right direction. As this article has carefully highlighted in the details above, strategic thinking is a mindset of how to carefully examining various things and linking them in a manner that’s both logical and adds value. With the steps we’ve listed in details, you can turn it into a habit.
The keys to keep an open mind, which allows for creative problem-solving, and obtain all preconceptions, which may cloud your thinking. You’ll find value where you least expected it.
Also read: Tips on building a remote team