Strategic Thinking

Industry Matters Newsletter

When you start out at an organization, doing the tasks you’re told will benefit you. In the long run, though, doing only that will stall your career.  To make an impact at your organization, you must be able to think strategically.  Strategic thinking is the ability to think ahead and reflect on the past, think about the long and short-term, and think on a large and small scale. In this course, Dorie Clark, author and professor of business administration, tells viewers how they can improve their ability to think strategically.

To think strategically, you have to regularly re-evaluate new information and adapt accordingly. Question habits and practices, observe the big picture, and reflect on what you’ve experienced to start adapting the way you work. Thinking strategically has to happen mindfully, so you need time.  Block out time each week for strategic thinking – turn off the distractions and sit with your thoughts. 

When you think strategically, consider the future and learn from the past. Build scenarios and map multiple ways the future of a project or your industry could play out. It is also important to understand failed projects, past and future trends in your industry—what happened and why? As you think through the details of your strategy, think about what obstacles could get in your way. Break your strategy down into specific steps or goals. Then, think about the tactics you can use to reach those goals.

Before deciding on a particular strategy, get input and feedback from new voices and perspectives in addition to your team. Think about possible objections your team could have and create detailed responses. Create a system to make sure your team takes accountability for their part in the strategy. During this time, you should also decide how to track your progress and document your processes. Run a small test of the new strategy and redirect if there is a greater probability for growth and success with an alternate approach. 

The workplace is full of changing circumstances. Strategic thinking allows you to adapt quickly to these changes. Learning from the past and looking towards the future makes you a more efficient team member. 

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