Making Time For Strategic Thinking

Making Time For Strategic Thinking

Making Time For Strategic Thinking



Last week I posted a poll on LinkedIn asking how much time people spend on Strategic Thinking. Fifteen people responded to the poll (not a statistical significance but a quick sampling). Here are the results:

  • 33% of respondents spend 10% of their time on Strategic Thinking
  • 20% of respondents spend 20% of their time on Strategic Thinking
  • 33% of respondents spend 30 – 40% of their time on Strategic Thinking
  • 13% of respondents spend 50% or more of their time on Strategic Thinking

I was pleasantly surprised to see that a third of the respondents are spending 30 – 40% of their time on Strategic Thinking. This aligns with what authors Ellen Fredericks and Val Williams suggest in their book, Executive Think Time: Thinking That Gets Results. They propose that senior managers spend 30 – 40% of their time on Strategic Thinking and that junior executives spend 50 – 60% and senior executives spend 70 – 80%.

Does their recommendations surprise you? How does that compare with your experience? Do you place a higher value on spending time in strategic thinking over the time spent in tactical activities? Are you making the time to shift into Strategic Thinking so that you can be intentional rather than reactionary about the actions you and your team make?

There are three camps of thinking here:

Camp # 1 – That’s crazy. I could never find that much time for Strategic Thinking.

Camp # 2 – I believe in the value of Strategic Thinking. However, I am so busy with tactical activities that I find it hard to find the time.

Camp # 3 – I see the benefits of blocking time on my calendar for Strategic Thinking and I would like to spend more time in Strategic Thinking.

So, which camp are you in and what do you want to do about it? There is a concept called “Time Sovereignty” which states that you are the ruler of your time. Many of us might argue that we don’t have control over our time. That we are in too many meetings and have too little focused time to do our work. But what if you were to change what you are doing?

Author Seth Godin suggests on his blog, “The next few minutes or days or months–sure, you own them, and you can put them to whatever use you choose. But just because you’ve been using your time in a particular way for a long time doesn’t mean you need to keep doing that.”

So here is some coaching I might offer clients if we were discussing this issue:

  • What would be the value to you to find more time for Strategic Thinking?
  • How are you spending your time now? (Get specific; Do an inventory)
  • What is a prominent issue that you want to spend more time on?
  • Where in your calendar could you put some dedicated time to think about this issue?
  • What do you need to do to ensure you are accountable for your commitment?
  • What is one result you want to achieve from your Strategic Thinking time?
  • How soon do you plan to start?

I hope you will plan to increase your Strategic Thinking time. I think you will find that as you slow down to think you may speed up and improve the results for you and your team as well as increase satisfaction with the work you are doing.

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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.