Have you ever been told you need to be more strategic? “Strategic Thinking” is a term that often gets bounced around in meetings and performance reviews, but what does it really mean? At its core, strategic thinking is about analyzing opportunities from a broad perspective and understanding the potential impacts of different courses of action. Strategic thinkers look at the big picture, considering both internal and external influences on industries and organizations. It requires research, analytical thinking, problem-solving skills, innovation, and decisiveness. Strategic thinking helps businesses predict trends, identify opportunities and vulnerabilities, and project the probable success of new ventures. This important skill is not just for the C-suite but can benefit employees at every level of an organization, so how can you boost your strategic thinking skills now?
- Keep up with industry trends. It is important to understand how your organization works within the context of the industry and have knowledge of market trends and business drivers. Connecting with peers, reading trade publications, and staying informed about current events are all great ways to stay informed about anything that might impact your business now or in the future.
- Ask the right questions. Once you have done your research and have a solid understanding of trends and issues, the next step is to get curious about potential strategies. If considering a possible project, ask yourself questions like:
- What are the potential benefits of pursuing the project?
- What are the potential drawbacks of pursuing the project?
- What will success/failure look like?
- What will the outcomes of this project be in 3 months… 6 months…1 year?
- How does this project support the overall goals of the organization?
- What resources will be needed, and how will you allocate them?
- Embrace debate. Part of strategic thinking is to test ideas with the help of your peers. One person cannot see every potential flaw or have every great idea, so inviting discussion and debate is the best way to fine-tune a strategy. Getting input from others also helps guard against your own biases or blind spots throughout the planning process. Leaders should be aware that effective debate requires building trust with your team and good communication skills to keep group discussions focused and productive.
Author and entrepreneur Jack Canfield once said, “People make their own luck by great preparation and good strategy.” Strategic thinking does not happen by accident but is a skill that can be developed and improved by practicing these three techniques consistently.