Developing Strategic Thinking Skills: A Step-By-Step Guide

Unleash your potential with strategic thinking! Discover how this key skill can transform your professional journey

At work, you’re not just a cog in the machine; you’re an architect building your own and other’s success. Yet, how can you construct something that stands the test of time without a blueprint?

That’s where strategic thinking comes into play. It provides the layout: helping you understand where to lay down the foundation and how to align effort for optimum fulfilment and effectiveness.

Strategic thinking can guide your professional journey. It not only directs your efforts but also bolsters your confidence, fosters recognition, and contributes to a balanced and productive work environment. It’s the bridge between vision and its tangible execution.

But how do we develop strategic thinking skills? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Cultivate a broad perspective

Viewing your work through a wider lens is the first step. As a young manager in a large corporation, I became very curious about the organisational structure and operations, the marketplace dynamics, and how these elements were woven together (or not, in some cases). The understanding I got from that curiosity helped me explain things to others coherently and be ahead of the game. And I’m sure it gave me me a big career advantage.

Make sure you understand the bigger picture of your work within the context of your organisation and industry.

Tip: Try scheduling a brief meeting with someone from a different department or organisation to gain insights about their role and how it might interlink with yours.

2. Incorporate strategic tools

Familiarise yourself with strategy frameworks and tools.

Tip: Start with the classics, for example, Ansoff’s Matrix or Porter’s Generic Strategies and Five Forces models. Then try applying these to your company’s current market situation.

3. Embrace curiosity and continuous learning

Stay inquisitive about your organisation and industry.

Tip: Subscribe to relevant industry newsletters or attend webinars, and keep abreast of trends and developments.

4. Learn to anticipate and plan

Brainstorm a range of future industry trends and discuss what their impacts might be on your organisation.

Tip: Consider what internal company changes might be driven by those trends – and consider how your role or department could adapt to them.

5. Practice decision-making

Before making a decision, assess its long-term impacts and alignment with your team’s or organisation’s broader goals.

Tip: For example, when deciding on a new project to undertake, consider how it fits into the company’s strategic plan. Will it leverage your team’s strengths? Does it align with market trends?

By integrating these steps into your routine, you’ll start building strategic thinking into your professional blueprint. This will bring benefits for your personal career growth and for wider organisational success.

Remember, every architect needs a blueprint, and strategic thinking is yours. Start drafting today! And let me know what your challenges with strategic thinking might be by tweeting me @NicRobCoach