Every professional who looks for a better career, a better business, or a better performance at work, should understand one simple concept: the professional marketplace, which includes the jobs marketplace and the business marketplace, is extremely competitive.
Whether you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, or webmaster, the ability to think strategically and effectively is always going to improve the performance resulted from the actions and decisions that you make.
Improve your strategic thinking and you’ll improve your career forever. In today’s post, we’re presenting 5 ways to improve your strategic thinking skills and become a better professional in your field. Take action and never stop improving yourself!
1) Think on long-term
To be effective in your career, you must always think long-term.
Having strategic thinking goes hand in hand with having a long-term vision, and also with the ability to anticipate and prepare for any potentially harmful side-effects that will be resulted from your decisions.
You must first understand the challenges and changes that are waiting for you around the corner, so you can effectively strategize your thoughts, emotions, and actions to successfully overcome anything that stands in your way.
Every previous experience that you’ve had is very important and helpful because it makes you more complete, and often succeeds to turn you into a better long-term thinker.
Once you get more experience and ultimately understanding of various concepts, you will have a much better understanding of what needs to be done.
Take for instance IKEA’s example of the ability to anticipate. IKEA had only small transportations cars at disposal for large pieces of furniture. So, in order to reduce the transportation costs for fuel and have a more efficient and fast delivery, they came up with a brilliant idea.
Their long-term vision was the packing strategy, which simply means to disassemble the furniture, pack it into pieces to gain more space in the transportation cars and reassemble it at the customer place. This type of strategic, long-thinking is always necessary for businesses to stand out and for CEOs to thrive.
2) Bear in mind the current trends
Another important part of strategical thinking is always being aware of the present and future predicted trends. You must know the specific trends that go along with your industry and identify the trends that work best for your target audience (customers/clients), so you will know exactly what needs to be implemented next.
Before leveraging a trend, you should assess the whole picture. Look in a broader way, and notice all the environments that can help you create a twist:
Now use your strategic thinking and see what impact the trends within these environments might have and implement the ones that’ll work the best for your organization.
For instance, let’s look at some of the trends that shifted the technological environment. The usage of AR technology has increased in 2018, and it continues increasing especially in Snapchat and Instagram stories.
Moreover, link this to the big influence and power that social media has over the Generation Z, and you’ll understand that whoever uses Instagram and Snapchat will also be a part of that shift.
Therefore, if your target audience is Gen Z and spends time on Snapchat, you may as well take advantage of the AR or VR trend and develop unique experiences for your target audience.
Strategic thinkers understand that knowledge must be acquired first, and that action must be taken after. Lastly, they acknowledge that all the actions they take should be guided by smart connections between trends, traffic sources, and specific target audience.
3) Observe – Keep your eyes wide open
Having strategical thinking is all about your ability to analyze and evaluate a situation accurately. The key to mastering these skills require you to be a good observer. This might sound basic to be the key to something so important, because, after all, observation is something you use daily as a research method.
But, at a second thought, very few people are actually good observers. Being a good observer implies noticing the small details that you or your employees “leave behind” as clues during various situations of stress, joy, overwhelm, sadness, and so on.
Once you achieve an analytical observing skill, you’ll be able to think about a problem from a lot of perspectives in almost no time.
In most of the cases, thinking analytically means thinking in terms of cause-and-effect. As every cause has its effect, all your actions will produce results. If your actions are properly planned and efficiently executed, your results will be extraordinary
Whenever you stumble upon a problem, you’ll immediately understand the initial cause that triggered that outcome, feedback, or problem (same thing). You can’t do anything about it as it is done.
However, you can instantly start looking for the best solution by focusing your attention, intention, intellect, and creativity to discover what needs to be done.
4) Engage in discussions with others
Sadly, many people are repulsive when it comes to listening to ideas or opinions which are not in alignment with their ideology and theories. This attitude leads them to a dangerous trap made of their own thoughts and ideas.
On top of that, these types of people are usually surrounding themselves exclusively with individuals who agree with their perspective and who are on the same mindset.
If you want to develop strategic thinking, you need to keep your mind open.
Why? Because you simply must have a broader understanding and control of all the challenging situations that cross your path. Most importantly, you need to be able to look at them from distinct perspectives.
This requires you to keep your mind open to other people’s points of view even if what you’re hearing is in total contradiction with your current beliefs.
Keep in mind that you are not holding the supreme truth. You are human, so you can be wrong, and you can always strive and fight to find a better solution.
Improve your strategic thinking by engaging in discussions about critical matters with all the stakeholders. Two or more minds are always better than one.
5) Ask questions, think, and reflect
The last yet one of the most productive ways to improve your strategical thinking is to ask questions. Not just any type of question. Hard questions.
- “What are the current trends we can take advantage of to improve the organization?”
- “Do all employees know what they’re working to achieve?”
- “Will the company endure if we’re going this way?”
Take your time to think and reflect on all of these questions. You’ll be surprised where the mind can lead you.
Many of the ones who already master their strategical thinking skills are taking their time out in peaceful and relaxing places to reflect on important matters. Relaxation is the best way to unleash the power of creativity.
Improving your strategical thinking skills is no rocket science. If you put your mind on the matter and start focusing on changing the way you look at problems and the way you seek solutions, your strategic thinking skills will instantly start to improve.
Stay consistent and perceive this growth as a process and not a result!