“The purpose of life is a life of purpose” – Robert Byrne
Have you ever thought about what it means to think strategically? Does it mean to create strategies like in a war? Is it a skill you are born with or something you learn? Strategic thinking seems like a vague buzzword that CEOs toss around to sound important.
Actually, strategic thinking is a skill we can all learn. It is how we plan, think, and ask questions to grow and learn while we work toward a goal. It’s embracing what you were like when you were a young child and asking questions, most importantly, “why?”
Thinking strategically is based on a combination of knowledge, experiences, and hunches. It’s about taking calculated and uncalculated risks that we hope will pay off in the future.
It’s about shifting your focus from just doing things to thinking and planning what should be getting done.
Three Behaviors That Inspire Thinking Strategically
Switching your focus is easier said than done. To cultivate a mind of thinking strategically, these three behaviors can help.
- Question why. Don’t accept doing a task a certain way just because it’s the way it’s always been done. Ask yourself why it’s done that way. Or is there a better way to do it? Thinking strategically is about knowledge so you can make an informed decision. Asking questions and listening to others’ opinions help supply the information you need to make a well-informed decision.
- Observe everything. Spending every minute of your day just doing stuff and getting things done might seem productive. But it doesn’t allow you to think strategically about what you are doing. Instead, take a step back occasionally and observe what’s going on. Look for areas that could be more efficient, who is doing what and how much each activity is helping things move forward. Observe critically the big picture, and the way the pieces fit together.
- Reflect on your day. Think about what gave you energy or took away your energy. Reflect on the activities that helped the organization move ahead or were wasted time. Reflection time each day allows you to ask yourself if you are on the right path, develop solutions, and stay on track with your goals. This is where inspiration and creativity have a chance to grow and be seen.
When you focus on doing and making something happen by doing this and doing that, you are working hard. But you are not thinking strategically. Of course, working and doing is necessary up to a point.
Instead, stop focusing on just getting things done. Take a step back and set goals for what you want in the future and how you can help the organization win.
Thinking strategically is inspiring. It helps you go from mindlessly going through the motions and commands of others to planning and observing and implementing in a way that gets you and your team to the success of the goal.