Ways to Expand Your Strategic Thinking

3 min read

Education & Career Trends: October 10, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS

Strategic thinking focuses on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value. (Image Credit: vecteezy.com)

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We all have different degrees of strategic thinking that come naturally to us. To deliver at the leading edge, you must think at the leading edge, and that means thinking outside your comfort zone. Nobody gets better by thinking the same way they always have, according to Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

Strategic thinking focuses on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value. Strategic thinking and/or planning consists of three phases that identify and clarify:

  1. Where we are now.
  2. Where do we want to be.
  3. How we will get there. 

While strategic thinking isn’t something that can be honed overnight, there are ways to broaden the aperture to see the whole forest rather than just a few trees.

Here are some ways to expand your strategic thinking skills:

1. Offer a drop box for ideas.

  • Create a space where people can express suggestions, recommendations and observations to be shared with the group. 
  • Pixar called its version of this the Brain Trust — a place where team members collaborated without emotion, pooling together disparate ideas and colliding them to create the whacky creatures that appear in its movies.
  • Alex Bogusky of Made Movement said it best, “Ideas are a natural outcome of an engaged mind. If your team isn’t having ideas, it’s a sign that something else is wrong.”

2. Think one level higher.

  • For every individual or team-level decision, consider the ramifications for the organisation.
  • How does the decision to cut amenities impact not only employees but also the trust they have of the company? It’s brand? Its culture?
  • There are always higher-level considerations, internal and external, to account for.

3. Dig deeper.

  • Ask powerful questions that unearth greater insight.
  • Don’t settle for a surface-level explanation such as, “We’ve always done it this way.”
  • In pushing for more detailed answers, be sure to frame your inquiry as wanting a greater understanding of the rationale behind the thinking rather than an explanation of it.
  • Position your inquiry as a question rather than a command, such as, “Can you help me understand the thinking behind this?”, rather than simply asking, “Why are we doing this?”

4. Find a role model.

  • You can always enlist the support of a mentor or coach to help broaden your strategic thinking.
  • Mentors offer guidance according to their subject-matter expertise.
  • Coaches extract personal insights from within so the person reaches that awareness of him or herself.
  • Either way, to broaden your thinking you need somebody to incite a new perspective to consider — that’s what learning entails.

The more you grow your thinking, the more you grow. Thoughts induce feelings, feelings lead to decisions and decisions spur behaviour.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

“Subject Teachers as Career Guides”

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