What do Success and Strategic Thinking Have in Common?

By Brent Patmos
 
Thinking as a Strategy to Build Your Business
 
A force multiplier is a factor that can dramatically increase (multiply) the effectiveness of leadership performance and company profitability. For the purpose of our article, clear critical and strategic thinking are a powerful force that you can use to radically multiply your capability as a leader.
 
Valuing Strategic Thought
 
As owners and executives, we cannot afford to lead from a position of internal isolation or limited thinking about key issues or strategies impacting our business. The right strategy can catapult our company to success, and some would argue that the ability to think strategically is the defining skill that elevates one from an average leader to a game changer. Strategic thought is so prized that in a study by Management Research Group, they found that 97% of senior executive’s value strategic thinking above any other leadership attribute.
 
Strategic Leadership of Thought
 
Strategic thinking requires foresight and the ability to set aside or challenge conventional “wisdom”—even our own assumptions. It requires opening our minds to every conceivable outcome for our business.  We do not stop at analyzing what we should be doing differently; we focus on how we can accomplish our goals, and why those goals are worth our attention.
 
Planning Follows Thought
 
It is not enough to think about the company strategy. Once you identify new strategy for the organization, you must be able to formulate and communicate a set of goals to move the business to the next level. This is the point where strategic thinking becomes a deliberate plan of action for your company.
 
Thought as a Competency
 
In order to make thinking a Force Multiplier that has a positive impact on the strategy and practical direction of our firm, we must continually seek to increase our thought competence. Critical and strategic thinking is a skill that must be learned and improved over a lifetime, and we should concentrate on developing the attributes of a strategic thinker.
 
  • Be Curious - Challenge yourself to think about how to continually improve the performance of your business. Produce thought provoking ideas around which you and your team can begin to formulate actions.
  • Observe and Question - Learn to listen with all of your senses when interacting with people. Observe the speakers body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Ask questions that are designed to uncover the real meaning or motivation behind the words.
  • Find the Why - Continually seek to understand the “Why” of the situation. Finding the cause can lead to thoughtful and innovative solutions.
  • Unbiased Analysis - When you set aside your bias you can consider the totality of the situation and context as it relates to people, processes, products and performance. Become acutely aware of the biases within your thinking that can lead to blind spots in business performance.

Force Multiplier Zones

Below I outline five critical areas of your business that will benefit from clear, focused, critical and strategic thinking.

  1. Think about your customers in terms of maximizing relationships and optimizing return to your company. Not all customers are created equal; which customers add value and who may be more trouble than they are worth? Think about why and determine next steps.
  2. Think about your organizational structure. People and positions, like equipment and processes, should deliver quantifiable efficiency and produce a return on investment. Which do and which don’t? Think about why and determine next steps.
  3. Think about what is purposefully being done to develop your people. Common business logic dictates that Sales and operational results drive organizational performance. Lower results equal an increased emphasis on expectations and outputs. People fuel performance. Development fuels people. How purposeful is your development of people? Think about why and determine next steps.
  4. Think about the processes and systems currently in place in your company. Analyze which systems and processes support your business. Do they exist to support your business and people, or have they become obsolete dinosaurs that hinder more than help? Think about why and determine next steps.
  5. Think about the bias vs. objectivity of decision making by leaders within your company. Objectivity is a powerful perspective to effective decision making. This is the difference between “what we think we know” (bias) and “what we actually know” (objectivity) One is an opinion, and one is a combination of data, fact and our intuition or gut feel. Can you advance the objectivity of decisions ahead of the bias of judgments? Think about why and determine next steps.
Full Mental Engagement
 
Thinking is a continual process, rather than an abstract exercise. Thinking requires full mental engagement. When you are fully engaged in the thought process - without distractions and interruption - you can think clearly, critically, and strategically to solve the challenges your business faces each day.