Being able to think strategically is an important competency for professionals in any field. By using your strategic thinking skills, you can think critically to solve complex problems and plan for what lies ahead.
According to Doug Randall, who has lectured at Wharton School and Stanford University on strategy, leaders who think strategically see around corners and spot possibilities and choices where others see problems and constraints. Fortunately, you can cultivate a strategic mindset by following some simple steps and practicing often.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Randall’s thoughts on how to adopt a strategic mindset.
Look to the future. It’s helpful to learn from the past, but don’t get stuck there. To cultivate a strategic mindset, you should take the long view. According to Randall, this opens up choice and possibility because it is unimpeded by current limitations. Think about how you make decisions with your sales team. Do you look ahead and see abundant potential in the future, or do you begin with a more confined set of options? Strive to take a long-term, future view to plan effectively.
Start from the context. Randall notes that outside-in thinkers typically look for opportunities and threats in their contextual environment. Before considering what they can control, they look at social, political and technological forces. Remember to control what you can control—and don’t let the other things impact your decision-making.
Challenge traditional wisdom. To develop a strategic mindset, you should not limit yourself with the long-established and familiar ideas and routines in your life. According to Randall, conventional wisdom breeds predictability and certainty, and often extreme rigidity. You can break loose by choosing to embrace innovation and disruption.
Learn to synthesize information from various sources. Chances are, you get an influx of emails and information from multiple people and sources every day. You probably get more insight and data than you could feasibly interpret or act on in week. That’s why it’s important to systematically scan, synthesize and process information from a broad array of inputs, says Randall. This will help you make sense of all that is happening within your team, company and larger community.
Be intentionally optimistic. Do you tend to focus more on risks, concerns and the threat of loss—or do you look for opportunities, upsides and potential wins? To be a strategic thinker, you must be purposeful in looking on the bright side. According to Randall, positivity and an optimistic outlook create a foundation for a solution orientation, offering a wide spectrum of choices.
Cultivating a strategic mindset is an ongoing process. Learning how to think strategically is perhaps one of the most important soft skills you can master because it enables you think differently, propose new ideas, and see opportunities that others miss.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Doug Randall is a partner at The Trium Group. He has lectured at the Wharton School, Stanford University and National Defense University on strategy, narratives, leadership and negotiations.
Used with permission from PPAI