Like most skills, even complex ones like strategic thinking, we now know that if you want to get better at it, you can. It’s true that some personality variables make us more likely to naturally think more strategically, but everyone, even those not predisposed to, can get better.
In my experience, if clients want to learn to think more strategically they need to:
Sounds very simple but both are difficult. Clients are inundated by massive amounts of communication. Their in-box and all of the internal communication applications and software (not to mention social media with which we all feel compelled to interact) demand more and more of their time. In the hyper collaborative environments that most work, their day is packed with meetings. It’s no wonder that when I ask clients when they have time to reflect, they look at me like I have asked them to perform neurosurgery.
Getting a handle on your schedule is probably one of the most important aspects of preparing to be a more strategic thinker. If your day is spent blocking and tackling, and for most leaders it is, then you need to find a way to free up some space for “think time”. And once you do, you can’t use it to catch up on your e-mail. It’s not about action at this point, it’s about reflection.
Getting outside your normal routine requires you to spend time reading things you might not normally read, conversing with people inside and out of your organization who have different roles and accountability (and different backgrounds than you) and attending events that involve people outside your organization or even industry. If you want to view the world more holistically, and to think strategically you do, you need to view the world beyond your own.
I love helping clients and their teams expand their ability to think strategically because I know it will improve their impact, planning, goal setting and performance. You have to be intentional and patient. It takes time. It’s worth it.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.