8 Steps to Thinking Strategically

It seems like the new mantra of today’s workplace is “we’ve got to be strategic about this.” But, while there’s a lot of lip service proclaiming the virtues of strategic thinking, there isn’t a great deal of understanding of what strategic thinking really is. And that leads to poor strategies.

ThinkstockPhotos-87548591The success of any organization depends on everyone working together to meet its goals. Developing strategic thinking skills allows people at all levels of an organization to anticipate opportunities and threats. It helps them manage day-to-day tasks that fall under their responsibility in order to prepare for challenges and successfully grow their organization. Strategic thinking also encourages creativity and forward thinking instead of just going along with the status quo.

Strengthen your thinking. Make a commitment to plan and work toward your organization’s overall success. Here are eight steps that will help you think strategically.

1. Consider the status quo. Strategic thinking requires you to critically examine how things have always been done and then determine if that way is the way things should be done. Strategic thinkers are willing to look outside the box to find more efficient and creative ways of doing things.

2. Look at the forest without seeing the trees. Strategic thinkers are not hindered by the details of managing everyday concerns. Strategic thinkers look at the business as a whole to evaluate attributes and areas of opportunity.

Business people discussing in an office3. Focus on the future. Strategic thinking is steered by a vision for the future of the organization. When developing strategies for growth, those strategies must have clearly defined goals that contribute to the vision of the company.

4. Consider external forces when developing your strategic plan. Government regulations, legal issues, market conditions, economic factors and technological changes all affect how you plan for the future.

5. Seek feedback from within your industry. Market research will help you meld the vision of your company with consumer needs.

6. Get the facts. While strategic thinking involves making predictions about the future, the predictions must be realistic. Gather hard data—your organization’s financial reports and analysis of your industry—to help you develop goals based on reality.

7. Look at your business’s organizational structure to assess how the teams fit into your strategies for the future. You may find the need to reorganize your team to achieve your goals.

8. Anticipate challenges and the issues that may arise; devise a plan to confront those issues before they happen.

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