The concept of strategic thinking is somewhat elusive, with many management executives desiring more time in their day for strategic thinking and considering the bigger picture, but fall short in outlining what that thought process specifically entails.
Today, managers are required to spend so much time putting out spot fires in the form of reactivity to operational mistakes that there isn’t much time left to focus on thoughtfulness and consideration of the future. So how do we implement strategic thinking habits in a schedule that may already be time poor? With these three strategic hacks:
- Ensure you are crystal clear on the strategic requirements of your role. Articulate what your manager, CEO or board sees as the most important task that you are required to accomplish. Be succinct and clear with that requirement and keep that in mind when carrying out your daily tasks. Are the tasks you are engaged in working towards reaching that outcome? It may not be realistic to expect that absolutely every task you undertake will be working towards that singular outcome, but remember, if you cannot articulate the strategic contribution of your role, neither can anyone else. Always keep in mind the connection between your role and objectives, and your impact on the larger organisational directive.
- Uncover past patterns in your operations that have hindered your ability to think strategically and use that insight to create future opportunity. It is essential to eradicate bad habits that have crept into your daily tasks prior to this refocus in order to change the way you fulfil and embody your role. As discussed earlier, it is usually the case that operational mistakes and smaller issues take up many hours of the day to repair. With a newly established strategic direction to prioritise tasks upon, analyse past performance data to uncover future opportunities and risks in relation to your strategic direction. These insights will assist you in allocating financial resources and human capital with confidence.
- Translate your new strategic insights into directives and initiatives that your employees can participate in. Realise that your strategic initiatives will not be achieved alone. The commitment of your team is crucial to the success of your strategic goals and because of that, ensure that your team both understand and believe in your goals and can take delight in accomplishing them as much as you can. Link the strategic goals to your team’s individual accountabilities to increase ownership of the goals.
When the time is taken to firstly understand your strategic requirements, analyse and eradicate hindering patterns, and drive the commitment of your team to your strategic initiatives, the concept of strategic thinking does not have to remain abstract and intangible. Keeping your sights on the strategic goals of the future, you can confidently direct the operational activities of today.