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Are You Thinking Strategically?

December 21, 2013

Daily ReadAre You Thinking Strategically?

In the beginning, there was just you. You did every job.  You coded, you met with investors, you emptied the trash and phoned in the midnight pizza. Now you have others to do all that and it’s time for you to “be strategic.” If you find yourself resisting “being strategic,” because it sounds like a fast track to irrelevance, or vaguely like an excuse to slack off, you’re not alone. Every leader’s temptation is to deal with what’s directly in front of them, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Here’s how to form a clear idea of what’s required of you in this role and what others do to think strategically:

Anticipate. Stop focusing on what’s directly ahead. Instead, anticipate by looking for game-changing information at the periphery of your industry; searching beyond the current boundaries of your business; and building wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better

Think Critically. “Conventional wisdom” opens you to fewer raised eyebrows but keeping it safe also can cause you to lose your competitive advantage. Change the way you think by reframing problems to get to the bottom of things/the root of causes; challenge (your own) current beliefs and mindsets.

Interpret. Ambiguity is unsettling. Faced with it, the temptation is to reach for a fast (and potentially wrongheaded) solution. A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint.

Decide. Many leaders fall prey to “analysis paralysis.” You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive at a “good enough” position.

Align. Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge.

Learn. As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by. You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure are valuable sources of organizational learning.

This list may seem daunting, but see where you standard with your current strengths by testing your own strategic aptitude (or your company’s) with the survey at, then focus on your weaknesses to develop the additional skills you need to become a strong strategic thinker.

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