As is often the case, managers are constantly challenged to do more with less. Part of the challenge often includes being asked to think “more strategically.” I recently came across an article in Inc. magazine entitled “6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers” by Paul Schoemaker.
In the article he points out, “It’s hard to be a strategic leader if you don’t know what strategic leaders are supposed to do.” And he’s right.
So he offers six examples of what a good strategic thinker does well:
- The first is to Anticipate, to look beyond the normal boundaries of your industry and search for information that could change the way you perceive a problem.
- The second is to Think Critically. Here he points out that ‘traditional wisdom’ will raise few eyebrows and cause little second guessing. Critical thinkers question everything. Critical thinkers will often challenge current mindsets and may uncover some inherent organizational bias.
- The third: Interpret. Analytics are of an ever increasing importance to organizations. A good strategic thinker will gather data from a number of sources before formulating a point-of-view. He will also encourage others to do this as well.
- The fourth aspect is to Decide. Don’t fall into analysis paralysis. With the information that you’ve gathered, formulate a plan of action. Take a position.
- The fifth: Align. His point is that a good strategic leader will “…foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders…” The tough issues need to be raised and addressed, even though they may be uncomfortable.
- The last is: Learn. Encourage honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to change course if you’ve made a wrong decision. We all learn from our mistakes.
I would add another quality to his list: Confidence. Managers need to take chances at certain times while being confident enough in their abilities to do so.
Strategic thinking is more of an art than a science. Are you up to the challenge?