Leadership Small Business

Does Your Organization Think Strategically?

Guest blog by Paul Butler, co-author of Think to Win.

Does this sound familiar? While at a recent new product planning session, Jim was leading a cross-functional team meeting. Several people were presenting updates on the team’s progress. Although the meeting started well, it quickly became obvious that the meeting was going to end without addressing the real problem at hand.  Much was discussed, good ideas were shared; but as the conversations dragged on, people became less engaged – (some actually left before the meeting was over) and the meeting ended with … you fill in the blank ____!

How people think, the language they use, how they make decisions and solve problems in any organization will tell us if they have developed and are applying strategic thinking capability.  A 2013 study from the Management Research Group illustrates leaders who are effective strategic thinkers are six times more likely to be seen as effective and four times more likely to be identified as a high performer.  Strategic leaders take a different approach to problem solving. “Leaders who are able to think in multiple time frames, identifying what they’re trying to accomplish over time and what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, in three years to get there” are much more effective … Robert Kabacoff writes in the  Harvard Business Review (2.7.14).

Our research has identified eight critical skill dimensions necessary for success in building strategic leadership & thinking capability through your organization.

  1. Challenging Assumptions:  Having an open mind, willing to challenge accepted beliefs and raise new concerns
  2. Vital Few:  Focusing on the vital few issues versus tackling everything. Analyzing and concluding effectively enhances clarity, directs focus and promotes balance.
  3. Facts v. Opinions:  Using facts to make decisions and reaching meaningful, valid conclusions; opinions and conjecture do not provide accurate support.
  4. Scope:  Determining the appropriate “scope of analysis” to address the right issues within your control.
  5. Linkage:  Connecting ideas both upstream and downstream allows for systematic thinking; what’s up front informs what is to follow.
  6. Process:  A structured approach that employs a common language for identifying business issues.
  7. Assessment:  Routinely assessing internal and external issues that lead to conclusions and implications for action.
  8. Planning:  Creating strategies, measures and developing initiatives that will successfully address overarching business issues.

Each dimension is important — How does your team, function, organization stack up?

Paul works with senior executives in organizations to increase capabilities of individuals, teams, and organizations. With over 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors, he is well positioned to support organizations going through large scale change efforts. He uses his broad management experience in sales, marketing, operations, and organizational development to help organizations achieve leadership and functional excellence. 

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