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Strategic Thinking

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You may have had feedback that you "have to think first before you do or call." Unfortunately, there were few concrete points in this comment about how to do that. In this article I offer you 4 ideas on how you can strengthen strategic thinking and acting on your own. You will then no longer have 1 night of ice before you make a decision.

What is strategic Thinking?

You oversee the consequences of your actions before you take action.

Not only for leaders

You can start by adapting your opinion about strategic thinking. If you think that strategic thinking is only reserved for the highest bosses, I can quickly help you out of your dream. Strategic thinking is necessary for every level in the organization. Of course it's not in your job description, but it's very useful if you can and do it. You know better what is happening and you can respond more easily to developments and decisions that are made at a higher level.

How to do that: Strategic thinking

There are 4 important ways to stimulate strategic thinking:

  • Knowledge: observing and discovering trends.
  • Thinking: learning to ask 'difficult' questions.
  • Talking: which words do you choose?
  • To do: set aside time and learn to appreciate conflicts.

Below I will discuss these ways with you.

1. Knowledge

Observing and discovering trends

If you are always busy with that, then you never have time to think. You will therefore have to make a decision to spend a certain part of your working time on strategic thinking. You can decide how much as I can see and notice in your work that you allow time for this. It cannot be 0% in any case.

Keep an overview in sports

If you only look down during exercise then you will have an eye on the ball but then it's difficult to play against your teammates or to see what happens in the field. Strategic thinking is therefore something like looking up in the field, choosing the right position, coming up with the right defensive action or applying the right switch.

To apply strategic thinking you must know your company / organization well. What environment is your organization in? Who are we dealing with. What are the most important trends. Which regulations are important. What is the main strategy of your company and what do they want you to work on. In short: which castle are you building on? Important: something more is needed than just expressing your appreciation about strategy. In addition to your rating, the following is also required:

  • Make space / time in your agenda to discover the internal trends and to bring them in line. For example, by asking yourself which topics are on the agenda time and time again or are raised. Think about why this happens and what problems this creates for colleagues every time.
  • Strengthen your network by making contacts with colleagues outside of your own team and also with contacts in your field. You can learn from each other when it comes to the most important developments. it's very easy, for example, to join a relevant group on Linkedin.
  • Finally, it's important to have a clear picture of what strategic contribution your work has to the whole. Learn to articulate this strategic element in the right moments.

2. Thinking

Ask the 'difficult' questions

If you, as a professional in your field, have a good view of the trends and what is going on, a new dimension is created in your ability to think strategically. You can now ask yourself: how do I ensure a broader perspective on the idea of ​​what I am considering in my work or what is being presented to me for decision-making?

If you leave behind this research into the broader perspective, you will remain professionally myopic. You only see the possibilities in the short term. To see a broader perspective, it's necessary to develop your ability to ask (strategic) questions. You will see that other options or outcomes arise. Here are some examples. Just take a specific project in your mind and try to answer the questions for this project.

Examples of 'difficult' strategic questions

  • What do you think happened (in terms of success, result) after 1 year?
  • What do you think happened (in terms of success, result) after 3 years?
  • What stands in the way of a possible success?
  • What will be the first signs of success or setback?
  • Which arguments are necessary to convince our business partners?

Asking the 'difficult' questions is easier if you have a good view of the trends and developments in your field. You can strengthen your questions and your decision-making with these 25 useful strategic questions .

3. Talking

Your (strategic) word choice

If you can think well strategically, in many cases you also know how to choose the right words to convey something. You can do that as follows. You know how to create a good structure in your story, distinguishing the head from side issues. This allows people to follow you better and understand what the core of your story is. In addition, you know how to challenge people by questioning existing situations and discussing the underlying 'truths' with each other.

Eredivise

If you have been promoted to the premier division of strategic thinking then you will be able to involve people in the process of identifying complex issues, shaping common thinking and framing strategic choices. That all sounds difficult and it actually is. You can start sharpening this skill.

  • Create a clear structure in your communication (verbal and written). Group and organize your main points. Do this as short and concise as you can. Do not use unnecessary language.
  • Give your audience a clear picture of the overarching themes. In this way you provide a framework for the theme or topic that you want to discuss. You put your audience in a strategic mode that way. It prevents you from diving into the details too quickly.
  • First give your vision or answer to the question that is asked or about which a decision has to be made and then substantiate with your (strategic) arguments (instead of working towards your main point). This way of working makes people curious.

4. Do it

Allow time for thinking (and conflicts)

I regularly meet professionals who show me their agenda. This is then so full that the agreements fall out at the bottom of the agenda. You will understand that this behavior stands in the way of strategic thinking. If you act this way, you will not make full use of your full potential. And that is specially unfortunate for yourself! How can you devote more time to strategic thinking? This is possible with the following suggestions:

  • No more attending meetings you don't have to attend. Ask yourself the question: what is my added value there or even simpler: did the meeting contribute to achieving my own (work) goals
  • Block qualitative time in your agenda for strategic thinking. Just like you prepare time for meetings or appointments. Consider, for example, which strategic questions you can ask to make a good decision.
  • Embrace the concept of conflict in the good sense of the word. Conflict in the sense of being willing to discuss difficult issues, being accountable for choices that you make and not making difficult issues personal or allowing yourself to be touched by them. The ability to resolve a conflict is necessary to go one step further.

Strategic thinking is essential

You learn strategic thinking mainly by doing it a lot. With this article you have a guide to start or expand. it's not a type of skill that is reserved only for the sons of gods or daughters. If you start with it then it will feel awkward in the beginning (like any new skill). As a (managerial) professional you grow and it makes you better . It brings you to a higher professional level and shows what you are really capable of. Worth doing this!

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