Strategic thinking, the term means taking time to imagine, dream and think futuristically. A ‘would-be manager’ must not just depend on subconscious thoughts keeping in mind the requirement of exceptional performance at work and him. It has to do with your mission, vision, values and strategy. Strategic thinking is important because it leads to options that enable strategic decision making that result to decisions. These decisions lead to strategic planning and actions.
Strategic thinking is also a process that involves letting go of assumptions and postulates such as ‘it is impossible’; ‘it’s irrelevant’ and ‘I am too busy’ etc. You must remember that the job of assumptions is to block progress and hence they must be done away with.
Coming to the attributes of strategic thinking, I personally feel that strategic thinking must be big to understand the macro and micro environment; deep to ensure depth in questioning and testing validity of your assumptions as well as long to understand how far you are looking.
But, the question is, how to think strategically? You need to scan for your macro and micro environment; think and selections through brainstorming; relate options to reality and uncertainty; keep trends in mind and alongside imagine and innovate. Now let us correlate strategic thinking with productivity:
- Raise Doubts and Questions
Question and answers rub against each other like stones that product sparks which ignite the fire of imagination. Ask yourself ‘where am I today?’ to increase your presence in the moment; note where you stand in your pursuit and what you need to add to reach the zenith.
Question yourself ‘where would I want to be in near future’ to determine prior and new objectives that lure you. You will be able to get your priority list and hence will be able to think of actions.
Enlist all impediments in the way of your strategic goals by re-asking and analyzing ‘what obstacles stand in my way’. All these will initiate action and better performance!
- Imagine your Future
Your performance is crucially linked to your inspiration and motivation. You really need to put aside all distractions to identify new challenges and opportunities for the future.
Think about what you want to be as well as what you want in the next 5 years and be clear about it so that your internal self guides you along bringing in motivation. This process makes everything exciting and raises the level of performance.
- Adapt Happiness in your Choices
Understand and acknowledge the thoughts, feelings, values and meaningfulness about your professional life. Remember you choose what to think and when to think but what you really have to account for is whether these thoughts make you happy. People who are content and happy are immensely productive than those who dislike or disrespect their work.
- Embrace Creativity
Your life is not just all about reasons, logic and rationality. Hence to boost your strategic performance and thinking you must delve in being creative with your thoughts and actions.
Along creativity, you open all doors to novelty, innovation, being out of the box; improved vision, imagination; accepting emotions and foreseeing by thinking ahead. You will end up being intuitive and understand the failures to improve upon. Being creative rewards you with greater productivity; out of the box achievement and greater freedom.
- Invest in Innovation
New products, ideas, concepts always tend to pull the masses towards themselves and hence you must invest in innovation by remaining inspired. Understand and imbibe the excitement of an entrepreneur who converts his ideas into reality and this very factor boosts not only responsibility but also his performance.
- Don’t Stick to Failures
Delving on the past or failures stifles your process of strategic thinking. Hence, you could shift your focus away from symptoms of failures to the solution. Failures if not corrected cause stagnation but solution thinking improves performance and the overall person.
- Be Alert and Pro-Active
If you are alert and aware through your 5 senses, you are to additional information around you that will invoke your thinking and thus enhance your performance and productivity. Being pro-active makes you able to think and respond faster.
- Build and Evaluate Options
Just like you fill theory papers with new ideas; flood the sheet of solutions with options to a particular problem. Frankly, this is what advertising agencies also practice. Brainstorm and build a plethora of ideas so that each idea pushes you to perform and keep removing the impractical ones. Once the best idea is selected by you; you become more confident and your performance increases.
- Take Risks and let go Fear
Fear always plays with your productivity and if you choose to stick with it, your performance gradually declines. Hence along thinking differently, accepting risks and preparing to face all failures in the process of growth; you must accept calculated risk and delve in innovation. Steve Jobs became immortal in the history of technology and marketing for his different thinking patterns; honor for creativity and embracing change.
- Learn from your Mistakes and Leaders
A failure is actually someone who doesn’t learn from his mistakes and keeps repeating them. By employing strategic thinking in your life you invite immense learning progress and increase performance by a corrected thinking, behavioral or habitual pattern that comes to you with it. Also it is advisable to critically think and analyze other’s mistakes to learn from them else the world would not use case studies.
Leaders serve 2 purposes i.e. being examples of success and invoking inspiration in you. One must notice that most of the popular leaders took the road less travelled; believed in their thoughts and dreams more than other’s doubts while remaining perseverant and enduring. Strategic thinking process didn’t make them only productive but also brought them personal and professional growth.
To enhance your strategic thinking process you would require some or all of the following tools:
- Balance between logical and creative sides of the brain
- Ability to develop clearly defined professional and personal vision
- Define objectives and strategic plans.
- Adopt flexibility to allow strategic drifts
- Awareness and use of 5 senses.
- Willingness to learn and improve
- Ability to devote time to oneself
- Seeking other’s advise and feedback
- Matching creativity with reality: Realistic Thinking
- Being non-judgmental
- Patience and perseverance
Strategic thinking sounds like a huge and heavy term however, you can try and make it a habit to not only improve your life but also enhance your overall performance.
Contributed by Chayan Jain (Class of 2011-2013, IBS HYDERABAD)