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How to Improve your Strategic Thinking

By Townes Haas   |    January 23, 2017   |    10:27 AM


Have you ever been told you need to “be more strategic?” This feedback can be frustrating because it rarely comes with concrete guidance of how to be more strategic. Here’s our specific advice to have a more strategic mindset.

Being an entrepreneur isn't easy; you need to lead and execute. In order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to keep tabs on where your business is at today whilst developing a vision for the future.  In some ways, mentally, you need to be in two places simultaneously. To do this successfully you need to be a pro at strategic thinking.  Here are some tips to enable you to improve your strategic thinking.

Always be one step ahead of the game

Like a chess-player, every move you make needs to take into account every possible outcome from that move. Every time you think about making a change you need to consider the repercussions not only in the short term but also in the long term. For example if you decide to cut costs by limiting free coffee and tea will your employees still be happy, motivated, trust in the company and believe in the brand? High-level considerations must be accounted for.

Seek below the surface

It is easy to settle for a surface-level explanation for problems, or the reasons why certain tasks are undertaken the way they are. However as an entrepreneur, to think strategically means to dig deeper.  Answers such as “we’ve always done it this way” do not get to the root of the problem. As an entrepreneur you need to probe deeply to the bottom of every query and quandary so that you can find a strategic means of resolving the issue.

Scrutinize your biases.

Strategic thinking means contemplating everything in detail, even down to the way you organize your own thoughts. When you are examining an issue it is likely that you might only consider it from one point of view, thereby making certain assumptions. This may cloud your judgment. When you are dealing with a problem you need to consider it from all angles, that includes taking into account how clients, consumers or even competitors might view it.

Embrace tough questions

Building your strategic skills can be daunting, especially when you have to venture out of your comfort zone. But to think strategically means to ask tough questions and face problems head-on. You don't want to be an ostrich burying its head in the sand. Once you have gotten used to challenging your own assumptions and learnt to ask difficult questions you will feel glad you were not lackadaisical about the future of your business.

Schedule thinking

At first, strategic thinking may feel unfamiliar and time-consuming. As an entrepreneur you may be busy running from meeting to meeting. But to think about things properly you need time to ponder. Just like meetings and reports, you will need to book time in your schedule for strategic thinking. Analyzing the future vision of your business is as important to the success of your company as attending meetings, writing reports and emails, so don't feel guilty about scheduling time just to think.