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The Third Outer-Core Competency: Strategic Thinking
“Strategic thinking rarely occurs spontaneously.” – Michael Porter.
Strategic Thinking is the Key to Organizational Success
The ability to think strategically is one of the leadership qualities employees and executives appreciate the most. Strategic thinking gives an organization direction and focus while limiting the number of ways in which it may move ahead. It offers clarity and defines an optimal course of action.
Strategic thinking defines a direction and establishes focus.
Without strategic thinking, the overarching purpose of an organization is little more than wishful thinking. Every company needs to establish a vision/purpose and take action to achieve it. In today’s dynamically changing world, organizations that refuse to evolve are doomed to fail.
Expanding into new markets while launching new products without strategic clarity is the recipe for chaos and failure. To avoid chaotic leadership, leaders need to fully understand the business of their organization as well as its place within the markets.
In my book “Intelligent Leadership,” I have broken down strategic thinking into 11 sub-components, thus painting an accurate map of the leadership skills and competencies you need to develop to grow into a better strategic thinker.
Understanding Your Organization
You cannot make strategic decisions in the service of your organization if you do not fully understand it from the inside out.
- People are the basic building blocks of every organization. Companies use various systems to pool the talents of their employees and manage this precious resource in a way that best serves the interests of the organization. An overarching organizational structure underpins these systems, providing them with alignment and direction.
- The purpose of every company is to deliver various products and services to its customers through the use of technology. Strategic thinkers need to understand these technologies as well as products and services with a clear idea about how they should evolve in the future.
- Understanding the financial workings of the organization is also indispensable for strategic thinking.
The business environment to which the organization belongs also shapes its leaders’ strategic approach to growth.
- The industry determines the trends and environmental factors strategic thinkers needs to consider.
- The marketplace sets the strengths and weaknesses of your organization as well as the competition you need to address.
- Customers determine the expectations and requirements organizations need to fulfill to function. Like the industry and the marketplace, customers are subject to trends.
Understanding the organization and the environment in which it operates constitutes the “material” basis of strategic thinking. Starting off with this knowledge allows you to think and act strategically in the interests of your company.
To think strategically, you need to have a compelling vision of the future.
- Strategic thinking starts with the creation of a compelling vision. Your vision should be achievable, practical, values-rooted, and inspirational.
- When defining a mission for your team or organization, you should account for its strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and expectations of your target customer base.
- The strategies you develop for your mission should be integrated into an overarching structure, leveraged off each other, and take advantage of the strengths of your team.
- To lend substance to your strategies, you need to define a series of realistic, quantifiable goals that will give your people objectives and immediate direction.
- Design tactics to achieve your goals, thus giving your employees a clear roadmap to success. Implement these tactics through effective plans.
The goal of strategic thinking is to create synergy and eliminate complexity while avoiding chaos. Use strategic clarity to pave your organization’s road to success.
If you need help developing your strategic thinking, check out my leadership coaching services.