Many companies practice the fine art of strategic planning, yet most often it results in a strategic blueprint that looks like a terrible business plan. Very little is different between the two because many of the participants do not engage in the right form of strategic thinking.
Lets start by defining strategic thinking…
Strategic thinking is the ability to take information from multiple sources to formulate a new hypothesis or solution. The end result will help grow a business and solve problems.
In order to be an effective strategic thinker, one should see new ways of viewing their business plan or business model and also add intuition as well as imagination. This will help build a strong framework to grow the company.
By simply applying a process and implementing it into a plan does not necessarily mean that you are strategically thinking. Your thinking should be a rational, broad, and imaginative approach to to create a sound and winning solution to the future. Keep an open mind and look for different perspectives.
You might be wondering if strategic thinking can actually be learned..
Well, yes… This type of thinking can be learned, but is more like learning through a development of experiences as opposed to learning through a seminar. It grows over time reinforced by opportunity, mentors, and life experiences.
You can follow three steps that have helped thousands of individuals as well as groups shift from their normal strategic thinking to a new and more effective form.
First and foremost you need to be prepared. Preparation is the key to opening doors that lead to new ideas and opportunity. Understanding the business structure, the industry, and all functions of the business will help you be more prepared.
One must also listen and learn before coming to decisions or potential conclusions. We must open our mind and our brain to new information and ideas. Seek out ideas and examples from other industries or applications. Most importantly, keep an open mind.
Next, an individual would need to apply critical analysis. This is the phase that shifts from a learning mode to a solution mindset. It’s a very important role that the group must work together on that leads to a debate. Some techniques include; looking for trends and patterns, developing alternatives, and of course, agreeing on the goal and the actual solution for the problem.
Lastly, you must make a decision. The whole meaning of strategic thinking is to ultimately to come up with a decision or solution. Decisions can be achieved through consensus, or everyone agreeing on a common goal. All voices must be heard and treated with equal weight. If possible, test your new strategy and potential environment before implementing. Eventually, you will be able to build an implementation roadmap that’ll measure milestones as well as specific benchmarks. Make sure you select a strong strategy leader supported by a very multi-functioning strategy implementation team.