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6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers

https://www.inc.com/paul-schoemaker/6-habits-of-strategic-thinkers.html

inc.com

6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers
In the beginning, there was just you and your partners. 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."

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Learn

Learn

As your company grows, you have to actively seek honest feedback. To get that:

  • Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous debriefs to extract lessons
  • Shift course quickly if you realize you're off track
  • Celebrate both successes and (well-intentioned) failures that provide insight

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VIEW

Align

Align

A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust, and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge. To pull that off:

  • Understand what drives other people's agendas
  • Bring tough issues to the surface, however uncomfortable
  • Assess risk tolerance and follow through to build the necessary support

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Decide

Decide

You have to develop processes and enforce them to arrive at a “good enough” position. To do that well:

  • Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter
  • Balance speed, rigor, quality, and agility. Leave perfection to higher powers
  • Take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views

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Interpret

Interpret
A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint. To do this well:
  • Seek patterns in multiple sources of data
  • Encourage others to do the same
  • Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously

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Think Critically

Think Critically
Following conventional wisdom eventually leads to loss of competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. To master this:
  • Reframe problems to get to the roots of it
  • Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own
  • Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions

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Anticipate

Anticipate

Most companies only focus on what’s directly ahead. This can leave your company vulnerable to rivals who detect and act on ambiguous signals. To anticipate well:

  • Look for game-changing information at the periphery of your industry
  • Search beyond the current boundaries of your business
  • Build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

David Collis - Harvard Business School professor

“Most executives cannot articulate the objective, scope, and advantage of their business in a simple statement. If..."

David Collis - Harvard Business School professor

Invite Dissent To Build Others’ Commitment

An executive needs those she leads to translate strategic insights into choices that drive results. For people to commit to carrying out an executive’s strategic thinking, they have to both understand and believe in it. But repeated explanations don’t necessarily increase people’s understanding and ownership of strategy. Making them discuss the pros and cons of it make it so the problem is better understood and flaws are identified and fixed increasing ownership for success.

Identify The Strategic Requirements Of The Job

When someone is promoted into a function that requires strategic leadership it’s easy to spend time fixing what was wrong in their previous function but that often isn’t what the strategic leadership position requires. So, identify the strategic requirements of your job and focus on them.

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Jack Welch

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive..."

Jack Welch

Vision

Great leaders have a clear, exciting idea of where they are going. They are excellent at strategic planning.

While a manager gets the job done, great leaders tap into the emotions of their employees.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill

“Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.”  

Identify political players

We all start out naively assuming that all business leaders make decisions based wholly on fact and merit. 

The first challenge is to develop ...

Keep political players comfortable

Every individual and leader has their comfort zone--behaviors, values, attitudes, fears, and drives that result in productive relationships. 

Actions outside these comfort zones will likely lead to feuds, hidden decisions, excessive arguing, counter-productive lobbying, and back-biting.

Align with decision-makers

Before coming and launching a fully-fledged proposal at a committee or in a memorandum, it's smart to test opinion and find out how key people will react.

This enables you to anticipate counter-arguments and update your proposal to answer objections and to accommodate political realities.