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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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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
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
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
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
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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David Collis - Harvard Business School professor
Most executives cannot articulate the objective, scope, and advantage of their business in a simple statement. If they can’t, neither can anyone else.

4

IDEAS

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 your "political sensitivity"--observe and ask questions about how things are done in your business, where the power bases are, and who might have hidden agendas.

5 Steps To Strategic Thinking
  1. Align to your vision. When you're clear about what you want, you're able to describe it in vivid detail and hypothesize how to get it. 
  2. Ask questions. Ask yourself what are your vision, goals and resources.
  3. Give it some thought. Find a quiet place and reflect. Write in detail your answers from the previous step. Set up a meeting with people from different backgrounds and discuss matters of strategy.
  4. Plan. Identify your action items to achieve your short-term and long-term goals. 
  5. Diagram. Diagramming, mindmapping, brainstorming, drawing pictures, mocking up graphs and charts… All of these techniques stimulate your creativity and can break you out of the box. 

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