Getting Back to Strategic Thinking

Getting Back to Strategic Thinking

Getting Back to Strategic Thinking

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I have been out of practice lately with making the time for Strategic Thinking. This week, I scheduled some dedicated time to focus on it.

The process I follow and find helpful is from Executive Think Time: Thinking That Gets Results by Ellen Fredericks and Val Williams. I have suggested this book to my clients for many years. The book is written by two Master Certified Coaches and uses a question methodology similar to coaching.

Here is the four-step model in brief. I highly recommend that you buy the book to get more detail.

  1. Focused Reflection – Identify key areas, topics, or issues you want to focus your strategic thinking on.
  2. Guided Inquiry and Self Dialogue – Brainstorm questions on the topic and pick the top five questions to answer in detail.
  3. Directed Diagnostics – Review your answers to the questions. Look for insights, trends, and patterns.
  4. Target Actions – List all possible actions and then decide what you want to act on.

The book goes into more detail and has a wonderful list of questions to help you jump start the process.

This is what I experienced going through the process.

The book has recommended times for each section which I find helpful for keeping the discipline of spending enough time on each step and not spending too much time. Of course, think of the suggested timing as a guideline, not an absolute, so that you have the flexibility to go where your thoughts take you.

At one point, I wanted to shortcut the process and jump to planning actions, so I took a break and then went back to the process. Documenting the process by writing, typing, or recording your thoughts gives you the opportunity to stop and start as well as revisit your thinking at another time.

Where I started in the process and what I thought I would focus on is not where I ended up. It is interesting that when you empty your mind of all the thoughts rattling around in there a natural direction and prioritization may occur. Notice when you start the process what you think you will focus on and then reflect on where you end up. There may be an insight in that observation about what is most important or compelling.

As I brainstormed topics I wanted to focus on and the questions I would ask myself, I found some similarity between different thoughts. Interestingly, the second or third version of the ideas seemed to clarify the direction I wanted to go in. It was like sculpting the topic to get to the heart of what I wanted to think about.

What I appreciate most about this methodology is the flexibility to adapt it to whatever topic I want to think about, whether it is the marketing plan for my business, a workshop I am designing or a trip I am planning. This Strategic Thinking activity can be a solitary activity or one that you do with your team.

So, what topics would you benefit from doing some Strategic Thinking? Schedule some time on your calendar today. And if I can be a sounding board for you in thinking through a topic, schedule some time on my calendar.

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Welcome to the Listening to the Leader in You Blog

Super-leaders arm themselves with insight. This blog is where you’ll find concepts, ideas, resources and more for honing your full set of leadership capabilities. 
 
Lynn Schaber, MCC
For the past 20 years, I’ve been privileged to partner with individuals intent on cracking the code to leadership beyond the ordinary.