Think … Better!

We’ve been hearing and reading a lot these days from business leaders, politicians, activists, journalists, academics, etc. – about the state of political, economic and social conditions, with their associated recommendations, suggestions, judgements, demands, solutions, etc. Some of these proposals follow objective analysis while others, upon closer examination, seem to make little or no sense or are incomplete at best. A common response I have heard to such proposals, and often utter myself, is “what were they thinking” or “have they really thought about this”?

Respectfully, I concur they indeed were thinking seriously, but most likely under stress or pressure, and apparently not very deeply or disciplined, i.e. decidedly reactive versus comprehensively responsive. Therefore, let’s take a deeper dive into thinking and address the valuable process of strategic thinking.

If You Want to be a Better Thinker, Think Strategically

Strategic thinking is the way in which people think about, assess, view and create the future for themselves and others. It is by no means an easy task, but the process is straight forward. To make it work effectively, one must adopt it as a mind set and commit to it as a way of problem solving, doing business or leading a group of people. Three key components of strategic thinking are:

1. Seek Hard Facts and Objective Information – Narratives, theories and opinions are just that … subjective and personal. Not that they should be totally disregarded – a unique perspective can often help in understanding the depth of an issue. However, it is truth and valid data that we are after to chart a course of action offering the best chance of long term success.

2. Challenge Assumptions – Everyone has their own beliefs, biases and blind spots – that’s reality. It’s also reality that there are many opportunities outside our own understanding of current conditions and our personal sphere of knowledge – we just don’t know it all. Challenging our own assumptions is strategic thinking in action; and it’s also one of the best ways to increase our capacity to learn and discover new opportunities.

3. Pursue a Better Future – Strategic thinking is a dynamic process where people and teams are always looking for ways to make things better. It includes critical assessment of existing processes, asking difficult questions, soliciting feedback, listening, testing, following through, engaging others – and repeating the aforementioned again and again.

Building these three components into the “way we do things” will deliver the real value of strategic thinking, which is enabling people and organizations to navigate change and create a better future. However, remember that strategic thinking is not a one and done activity. It must be practiced continually … because the future is always in motion. Keep thinking!