An inside look at Ahead of the Curve: A Guide to Applied Strategic Thinking by Steven J. Stowell, Ph.D. and Stephanie S. Mead
Why did you write Ahead of the Curve?
Most organizations have made great strides in empowering employees. They have encouraged people to take initiative, to make a difference, to be more entrepreneurial, and to get closer to the customer. More decision making and responsibility has been pushed deeper within organizations, so that everyone is expected to be a manager. However, little has been done within organizations to sharpen people’s skills to think and act strategically within their own realm of responsibility.
Strategic leaders lay the groundwork for tomorrow’s opportunities. This is why we believe that practical and personal strategic thinking skills need to be developed across every organization. This book is dedicated to helping people not only learn how to think strategically, but also how to become a strategic force in their own work, career, team, or life – how to truly ignite change for the better.
What is the focus of the book?
Ahead of the Curve explores how to think, plan, and act more strategically at the individual level and on the front lines of work. We carefully, but simply explain each strategic thinking skill or element. We share practical examples and illustrate how each of the strategic thinking competencies works. We also provide specific suggestions and activities for developing your own personal strategic thinking skills.
Why strategic thinking?
We live and operate in a fast-paced, turbulent environment with many uncertainties, hazards, and opportunities. With a little discipline and thought, we have the ability to gain, expand, and exercise greater influence over our work and life.
An organization full of people who think ahead of the curve will be stronger because it will head off problems before they surface and maximize future productivity. We believe everyone needs to think about how they can adapt to a changing environment to add greater value. Simply put, everyone must be more entrepreneurial and competitive as we move into the future.
What is the focus of Applied Strategic Thinking®?
It is a grass roots approach. We are not talking about simply involving individual members in the formulation of broad organizational strategies. Rather, we are talking about real strategy for the manager or the team, about turning everyone into an individual strategist. While individual contributors, team members, and leaders should be involved in and consulted on grand corporate strategy, Applied Strategic Thinking® is designed to help individuals discover greater success for themselves and their teams in harmony with the organization and with other teams.
We are not suggesting that everyone take off in his or her own direction—hardly! What we are talking about is individuals seeing the organization and their internal customers clearly and becoming totally aligned with and supportive of the organization’s strategy and mission. Applied Strategic Thinking® is all about helping individual contributors and managers “put the fire hose down” and step back from the daily activity and discover what strategy means to them personally.
About the Authors
Steven J. Stowell, Ph.D. is the Founder and President of the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness (CMOE). Founded in 1978, CMOE specializes in management, leadership, and organization-development products and services. Steve has designed and delivered workshops and customized learning experiences for some of the world’s largest companies in over 30 countries covering over 30 leadership and management topics. These topics include Applied Strategic Thinking®, Strategic Leadership, Coaching Skills and Coaching TIPS²™,Teamwork, Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Conflict and Collaboration, and Innovation, among others. He specializes in facilitating, training, and delivering learning to senior leadership and executive-leadership teams to help them develop the skills required to transform organizations into high-performance, team-oriented entities, assist leaders in defining their strategic direction(s), and improve relationships among teams that face serious challenges and issues. Steve also spends time coaching senior leaders and executives on a one-on-one basis to help them further develop the skills that will help them maximize their level of performance. He has co-authored nine books in the last three decades. Steve and his wife, Debbie, live in Salt Lake City, Utah and have four children.
Stephanie S. Mead, MBA holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Organization & Human Development from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah and is currently the Senior Vice President of CMOE. Stephanie has spent her career in operations management, leadership and employee development, curriculum design, and organization-effectiveness consulting. During her eighteen years at CMOE, Stephanie has collaborated on the writing and development of numerous leadership-development programs for some of the world’s leading organizations. Ms. Mead and Dr. Stowell have also co-designed many leadership-development workshops on topics including Applied Strategic Thinking™, Strategic Leadership, Qualities of Leadership, Virtual Leadership, Strategy Formulation & Execution, Leading High-Performance Teams, Leading Innovation & Change, Personal Impact & Influence, and Leadership Coaching. In addition to her work developing instructional designs and creative learning events for CMOE’s client organizations, Stephanie has also co-authored four books. Stephanie lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband Eric and their three daughters.