Strategic thinking skills are among the most highly sought-after management competencies. Why? Because employees capable of thinking critically, logically, and strategically can have a tremendous impact on a business’s trajectory.
If you want to improve your strategic thinking skills, the good news is that, with the right mindset and practice, you can.
Here are four ways to improve your strategy skills, so the next time you’re involved in a strategic planning meeting, you can ensure your contributions are noticed.
Improving strategic thinking skills
Strategic thinking skills are any skills that enable you to use critical thinking to solve complex problems and plan for the future. These skills are essential to accomplish business objectives, overcome obstacles, and address challenges—particularly if they’re projected to take weeks, months, or even years to achieve.
Strategic thinking skills include:
To ideate a strategy that helps your organization reach its objectives, you must be capable of analyzing a variety of inputs. This initial analysis is crucial to creating a strategy that aligns with the current reality facing your organization.
Putting a strategy into place for your company, regardless of its size, requires solid the ability to communicate complex ideas, collaborate with internal and external stakeholders, build consensus, and ensure everyone is aligned and working toward shared goals are all central to strategic thinking.
- Problem-solving skills: Strategic planning is often used to solve problems or address challenges, such as missed financial targets, inefficient workflows, or an emerging competitor. Implementing a strategy that addresses the central challenge you face requires you to first understand the problem and its potential solutions. From there, you can craft a strategy that solves it.
- Planning and management skills:Strategy isn’t just about thinking of a solution—it involves implementation, too. Once data has been analyzed, the problem is understood, and a solution has been identified, you need strong planning and management skills to bring everything together.
BUILDING YOUR STRATEGIC THINKING SKILLS
- Ask Strategic Questions
If you want to improve your strategic thinking skills, one of the simplest things you can do is ask more strategic questions. Doing so allows you to exercise your planning skills, become adept at spotting opportunities, and develop a more strategic mindset you can leverage throughout your career.
According to the Harvard Business School Online course Disruptive Strategy, strategic questions can relate to a challenge, opportunity, or ambiguity you face in your current situation, whether personal or professional. They might, for instance, relate to launching a new business or product, beating a competitor, or structuring your organization for innovation.
It’s also important that your questions apply to your role and responsibilities so you can act on them.
Some examples of strategic questions you might ask include:
- How can we strategically position ourselves to enter a new market?
- What’s the direction for growth for each of our products or services?
- Where will the organization’s growth come from in the next five years, and how does it compare with where growth has historically come from?
- How should the organization respond to the threat presented by potentially disruptive competitors?
In addition to asking strategic questions, you need to answer and address them skillfully. One of the most effective ways of accomplishing this is to observe and reflect on your current situation, ensuring any strategy you conceive is grounded in facts.
For example, imagine that the business you work for has begun losing market share for one product. At the same time, it’s gained market share from an entirely new customer base. It’s easy to assume why this might be happening. But is this correct?.
Consider Opposing Ideas
Once you’ve landed on a strategy that can help your organization reach its goals, question your assumptions. By doing so, you can ensure you’re not overlooking another possibility.
To develop this skill, get in the habit of questioning yourself. Should you consider a different perspective? Is there another possibility you may have overlooked?
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