On a few occasions, I have already written about the strategic thinking and the impact it can have in our everyday life. Today I will try in more detail to break down, which are the skills that comprise strategic thinking. In my own experience I focus on implementing certain steps in my analysis of situation before I make any decision or take a stand in dealing with a problem. These steps can help us work on certain skills that in the long run can improve our strategic thinking and the ability of decision making.
- The foremost critical skill I identified to think strategically is to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. That includes both business and personal goals with sharp focus on what you really want. I would say that this is a prerequisite in almost any life situation because unclear motivation opens door to insecurity, fear of failure and at the end it leads to indecisiveness.
- The second skill I like to call is thinking in reverse. What I mean by that is once you have the end goal in mind it’s easier to design actionable tasks and objectives that will structure your strategic approach. Each objective needs to have a timeline for execution as well defined needed resources. In business situations is not an uncommon thing to have even different scenarios brainstormed, according to the variability of conditions and environment where by tackling the problem from different angles, we are still able to achieve desired goal.
- Being able to achieve desired milestones a strategic thinkers need to have a high level of responsiveness and adaptability. It requires just letting enough room for flexibility into their plans, where they can review progress and revise the course of action once the conditions change. It’s somehow an innate ability to be proactive and allow intuition to be receptive to anticipate change – which is better approach then responding to change once it occurs. They listen, observe, interact with their environment in such manner that they identify subtle signals that raises the awareness and helps in tailoring the best solutions to a given problem.
- They are lifelong learners, oriented towards growth and are never afraid to ask questions. One of the drivers in developing a better strategic thinking is the desire for new experiences and trying something new. For them is never too late to learn a new language, dance or ride a horse! This avid hunger for life enables them to think better on strategic issues.
- They measure 3 times before they cut. What I mean by that is that the creative part they have, they don’t shut down because some solution is ‘too risky’, ‘too costly’, but rather they have a specific notion how to balance out the surges of creativity with a sense of what is achievable and what will bring the greatest benefit in the long run. It’s a sort of cautious optimism entwined with honest desire to make the best of what’s given to them.
- They make room for ‘me’ time. The best and greatest strategic thinkers take time out for themselves: To relax, to release any tension in their body, to slow down their fast pace thoughts. It allows them to find inner stability and prepare for future tasks.
We can work on improving our skills by challenging our conventional thinking patterns, brainstorm different scenarios for a given a problem and recognizing weaknesses and strengths of any situation or business condition.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
This poem by Robert Frost is an excellent example on how we make our choices in life. What variables are the most important in our question to which direction to turn? This poem stimulates constant reexamination of situation, “measuring before cutting” and instinctively is actually ‘training’ us to think more strategically.
While reading poetry you are challenging your thinking on more subtle levels. That kind of stimulation empowers both ability of visualization and gaining clarity which is vital in strategic thinking.