Thinking Strategically

I’ve always found thinking to be a good thing to do. That’s especially true before you say something. Our thoughts create our words and our words frequently become our actions. We need to think about that in particular. 

But I sometimes think that “overthinking” causes as many problems as not thinking. Different problems for sure but problems all the same. I often marvel as I watch people prepare a presentation. They think and rethink every word as they put it in their PowerPoint. I’ve seen people make literally dozens and dozens of changes to the wording on their slides. All the while giving almost no thought as to how they were going to say those words. 

They fail to realize that when it comes to presenting effectively how you say something is roughly 5 times more important than the something you say. Overthinking tends to paralyze us. It prevents us from taking action until everything is perfect and since everything is rarely perfect… you see what I mean. 

But there is also what I would call an elevated level of thinking. This is the level we want to strive for when thinking about the big stuff in our lives and careers. It’s known as Strategic Thinking.

Thinking strategically involves adopting a holistic and long-term perspective to make informed decisions that align with your goals and objectives. I hope you paid attention to that previous sentence. If you did then you understand that absent goals and objectives there will be no strategic thinking either. So if you have no goals and objectives for your life, or you have no interest in developing any, you can quit reading now. But if you are goal oriented then here are some ideas to help you think more strategically. 

While we are looking at strategic thinking in terms of business in this particular post understand that thinking strategically can have a huge impact on your personal life as well. 

  • Define your goals: Clearly identify your short-term and long-term objectives. What do you want to achieve? Having well-defined goals will guide your strategic thinking and decision-making process.
  • Understand the bigger picture: Develop a deep understanding of the internal and external factors that can influence your goals. Analyze market trends, industry dynamics, competitive landscape, and any other relevant factors that can impact your success.
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis: Assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to gain a comprehensive understanding of your current situation. This analysis will help you identify areas where you can leverage your strengths, overcome weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and mitigate threats.
  • Think long-term: Strategic thinking requires a focus on the long-term implications of your decisions. Consider how your choices today can impact your future outcomes. Avoid short-sighted thinking and prioritize sustainable strategies that can provide lasting benefits.
  • Analyze risks and uncertainties: Recognize that strategic decisions involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Identify potential risks, evaluate their likelihood and potential impact. Develop contingency plans to address them. Be prepared to adapt your strategy as new information emerges.
  • Embrace creativity and innovation: Strategic thinking often involves exploring new ideas, approaches, and perspectives. Encourage creativity and innovation within your thinking process. Challenge conventional wisdom. Be open to unconventional solutions that can give you a competitive advantage.
  • Consider different perspectives: Engage in critical thinking by considering various viewpoints and alternative scenarios. Avoid confirmation bias and actively seek out dissenting opinions. This practice helps you anticipate challenges and make well-rounded decisions.
  • Prioritize and allocate resources: Strategically allocate your resources, including time, money, and manpower, to areas that have the highest potential impact on your goals. Make informed trade-offs and invest in initiatives that align with your strategic objectives.
  • Continuously learn and adapt: Monitor the outcomes of your strategic decisions and be willing to learn from both successes and failures. Adapt your strategy as necessary based on new information, changing circumstances, and emerging opportunities.
  • Communicate and collaborate: Strategic thinking should not be confined to an individual endeavor. Foster a culture of strategic thinking within your team or organization. Encourage open communication, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas to collectively contribute to strategic decision-making.

Strategic Thinking is a skill that develops over time with practice. By consistently applying these ideas and reflecting on your decisions, you can improve your ability to think strategically. Strategic Thinking is a life skill and it’s one that the most successful people never stop working on. 

Think about that!

Expand Your Circle of Acquaintances

Remember when you were a kid, maybe even an older kid, and making friends was easy. Anyone you came across was a potential new friend. We didn’t prejudge them, heck, we didn’t even judge them after we knew them. 

Sometimes it turned out we didn’t like them so they didn’t stay friends for long. But that was determined by how we got along with them, not how they looked, dressed or talked. 

It seems like with every passing year it becomes more difficult to make new friends. Research shows most adults haven’t made a new friend in over five years. A friend is defined as someone you willingly share a good deal of time with outside of work experiencing common interests.

That lack of new and varied relationships tends to make us stale. It also makes it difficult for us to accept new concepts and thinking that is different than our own. 

When we do make new friends they tend to be people who think, talk, act, and even look like us. That just solidifies our stale thinking. 

So push yourself out of what people who know about this kind of stuff would call your comfort zone. Push yourself to strike up a conversation with people you normally wouldn’t. The opportunities to do that are limitless if you’re open to them. In line at the grocery store. Waiting at the doctors office. A networking event…speaking of networking events I’m always amazed at people who go to networking events and only talk to people they already know. Stop that!

Don’t worry about looking like a knucklehead, remember, they don’t know you so it really doesn’t matter.

Make yourself listen to different opinions. Really really listen. Then consider them. Don’t automatically dismiss them because they may be different than your own. People with “fresh” thinking are always willing to consider the possibility that they could be wrong. 

Expanding your point of view doesn’t come from knowing more people. It comes from knowing more people who are not your philosophical identical twin. 

Expand your circle of acquaintances until your next social gathering looks like a mini United Nations meeting. You’ll know more and even if your opinions haven’t changed they will be better informed opinions.