The future is coming fast. In this ever-changing, turbulent business environment, we must be prepared to think consciously and deliberately about where we want to go and how we can shape the future. Thinking strategically means having the capacity to anticipate, the discipline to prepare now, and the ability to position yourself to compete and win in the future.
New leaders at any level must be able to mobilize and focus resources and energy on the priorities that will ensure future business success. The problem that leaders face in becoming more strategic is that society, in general, is addicted to short-term thinking.
Routine activities seduce leaders into a very tactical state of mind. They worry about managing to-do lists, reaching short-term goals, and meeting today’s production schedule. When they see sales numbers drop, they react with a short-term, patch-up solution. They put out the urgent fires and fail to think long term. They simply overlook opportunities to see their situation from a strategic perspective. Too often, they focus on making it through the current crisis, managing today’s demands at the expense of the future.
It is never too late to begin thinking and acting more strategically. CMOE has helped leaders all over the globe acquire the skills they need to become strategic thinkers. The following elements of strategic thinking can be used as standalone skills or linked together to create a robust strategic-thinking process.
1. Learn to “tame the beast”
This means creating time to reflect on the future. Extra time doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. The routine activities that consume leaders’ time aren’t bad in and of themselves. In fact, they are essential to keeping the business running smoothly. The key is that leaders must set firm boundaries and block out time to think strategically, too.
2. Look at the world from a different perspective
Change your perspective and determine the true competitive advantages of the business. This requires thinking about how to optimize the investment of time, energy, and resources. A strategic dashboard can be created to identify strong strategic targets.
3. Gather intelligence data on an ongoing basis
This important activity allows a leader to make sense of what’s changing in the business world. Leaders must identify reliable sources of data, be willing to explore what they learn and draw conclusions about patterns they see in the market and with competitors.
4. Analyze opposing forces, anticipate scenarios, make a plan, and move forward
Opposing forces are those that currently stand between you and your future success. Strategically minded leaders assess and capitalize on enabling forces that will work to their advantage. Then, they can look ahead, anticipate scenarios, and envision how events might unfold in the future. With this information, they plan out their course of action and then take the plunge. Strategic leaders have the ability to mobilize people, accelerate efforts, and sustain progress, and as the plan is implemented, they keep their people aligned and informed.
Strategic thinking isn’t simple or easy, but leaders will be much more successful if they focus on developing these skills. CMOE helps leaders learn and apply the strategic-thinking skills that will have a positive impact on the future of your business. To learn more, contact us today!