How often do you go about your day without really thinking? It’s not uncommon, it’s a routine. You get into your day-to-day routine, and as such, the more frequently that routine doesn’t change, the more often you don’t really need to ‘think’ about it. I know on my way into work in the morning, I will grab a coffee, when I arrive into work, I will turn on my computer and answer any immediate emails that I need to, I will probably have a chat with work colleagues, and I will do all of this without really ‘thinking’.
So why should you start strategic thinking? If you can do your day to day job well, your results are good, your decisions are usually correct and as such your opinions don’t really change, surely your ‘thoughts’ are doing their job?
But what if simply taking the time for strategic thinking would mean continuous improvement? It could make the difference of getting home from your job and thinking ‘I made a good decision today’, to, ‘I made an amazing decision today!’.
But how do you practice strategic thinking? The 3 steps I follow daily are, challenge yourself, align yourself & observe.
1. Challenge Yourself
What I am about to say may be very welcomed, or completely rejected, but, whether you are starting out in business, you are an employee, c-level, or a director of one of the most successful companies in the world, you are not always right.
What I mean by this is, your ‘go-to’ opinions and decisions may have worked well last time, but what if something else could work better next time? If you don’t take the time to challenge yourself, to sit down and think, why am I doing it this way, why will I not be doing it another way, you will get stuck in the rut of ‘It’s just the way it’s always been done’ and by thinking like this, you could be missing a trick for improvement. No matter what decision you are making in life, whether its business or personal, by making the exact same decision without challenging yourself because it did well last time, could stop you from doing even better next time.
2. Align Yourself
When you are clear about your decision, and know clearly what you would like the outcome to be, align your thoughts and expectations to this. Think about how you will feel if the outcome is successful. This will drive your inspiration and motivation to make this decision a successful one. If this is a decision with a long-term outcome, stop to stocktake every so often, ensure everything is driving in the right direction. If things seem to be turning out slightly different, challenge the decision you will next make, and realign as necessary.
This may seem like such a simple thing to do, but how often do we all really observe? Whether it’s your industry, the trends, your business itself, or individual staff, stop and observe. By making it a routine to pay attention to the negative or positive trends within your industry, within your business, and what the staff are talking about, you can connect these dots, helping you understand the unique perspective that your function can provide, and ensuring you are building up as much knowledge as possible to best make positive decisions regarding your job and business.
The last piece of advice that I will give regarding strategic thinking, is if you are just starting to practice strategic thinking, be mindful of your time & your routine. It’s very easy to get to the end of the day and realise you were so caught up that you didn’t have the time to think. However, if you do make the time and start the process of strategic thinking, you will certainly start to see the benefits.