There are different meanings of being strategical. To some, it is coming up with new ideas about a new business or existing business/problem, or bringing new ideas to solve a problem or improve the available solution, or to define/refine the vision of the company – in short, being creative and intuitive. To some, it means defining the roadmap to achieve some certain goals, or design an action plan to help the company to achieve its vision, and/or being calculative and analytical. To some, it may mean utilizing the available resources and achieve a vision by using the right methods and the right people for it. And it may be taking the sales and marketing and getting next million targets efficiently. Guess what, all of them are right – they just belong to different kinds of strategies and/or situations.
However, being strategical is not required by the top management only – it is needed at every step and on all levels. To be successful, you must develop strategical thinking skills. It helps you make decisions that are related to your work or personal life, your decisions define your future. Here are some tips to practice and to develop your strategical thinking skills:
1. First or foremost, develop a career vision and personal vision for your future self.
2. Try to use your right and left side of the brain, try completing your everyday tasks using creativity and logical reasoning. It is OK to make mistakes, be open and confident about trying new methods that can help you be more efficient.
3. Define objectives and design a strategical plan with every objective broken down into tasks. You can start with a bigger picture (20 years from now), reverse the gear and define what you need to reach there. Create benchmarks to assure you are on the track and progressing.
4. Be curious and cross-trained. Constantly seek knowledge outside their channel. There is not one road only to reach to your goal, knowing about other areas of life, other departments can help you learn and use several strategies and collaborate across all channels to accomplish your goal or else you can fall short. Diversify your knowledge.
5. Think Holistically. A strategy is not about paying attention to what’s happening but to why it’s happening, how is it affected and what is affected by it. Try to find patterns and spend time understanding those patterns. It can help you be ready when a specific problem occurs, you will be prepared and can come up with a solution by finding the root causes and addressing those.
6. Find inspiration beyond day to day. Creative thinking is strategic thinking, beyond learning on the job, learn from conversations happening in your industry and from anything you find interesting. Listen to audiobooks (or Blinkist one per day – it is my favorite app), listen to podcasts on your way to work/home and go to events to learn what are the people in that industry/community doing. These strategies will not only help you stay up-to-date and productive, but it will also help you to expand the ways you think about a situation and/or a goal and will help you to figure out what you can do accomplish.
7. Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t immediately respond to problems as it shows up, think and understand the skills available to you and start imaging addressing potential challenges before they become roadblocks. When you have thought it through what can happen and what the next five action steps – you will be prepared better and will most probably stick to the core vision.
8. Lastly, sound strategic. Add more structure to your written and verbal communication, group and logically order your main points and keep things as succinct as possible. Best way to go for it is by starting with the topics you want to address, so your audience is prepared to engage in the conversation. Think of questions that may be raised during the conversation, ask yourself tough questions. It is as important to sound strategic as it is to be strategic. You might have thought it through and have prepared everything strategically but if you fail to communicate it strategically, all of your efforts go wasted.