Performance feedback or advice telling you that “you to be more strategic” can be confusing. It is excellent advice, and everyone can benefit from being more strategic. However, figuring out how to become more strategic can be puzzling because it can be challenging to figure out the right steps to develop that skill.
The Harvard Business Review describes strategic thinking this way: “Strategic people create connections between ideas, plans, and people that others fail to see.” To help you develop strategic thinking skills, you should take these steps to start you down the path.
Carve out time for big picture thinking.
If you’re constantly running from one task to the next and focused on simply executing what is in front of you, it isn’t allowing you the time you need to step back and look at the larger picture. Managers and companies have said that time is the largest obstacle to strategy, according to 96% of Strategy Skills survey respondents.
Ask challenging and strategic questions.
According to Harvard Business School Online, “If you want to improve your strategic thinking skills, one of the simplest things you can do is ask more strategic questions. Doing so allows you to exercise your planning skills, become adept at spotting opportunities, and develop a more strategic mindset you can leverage throughout your career.”
If you are looking for examples of the kinds of questions to ask, you can start with:
- What does success look like? How will we measure success?
- What can we learn and apply from the available data, including current and past trends?
- What are the opportunities and risks?
- Who are all of the people impacted by our actions or inaction?
- How do the following steps fit into the company’s overarching strategy, mission, vision, or purpose?
Gather other perspectives.
Getting the perspectives of other people in your organization will help you gain a more diverse approach to strategizing. Reach out to people of varying backgrounds, tenures, divisions, and more. You can also bring your team into these discussions to learn how others in your immediate sphere are looking at the problem.
Understand the context.
To develop a solid strategy, you need to be educated on the environment that your strategy will be operating. Read industry publications, research competitors, learn who the key players are, and do a deep-dive analysis of the history and key developments within your industry and organization.
You don’t need anything external to be able to become more strategic. Becoming more strategic all starts with internal development, being more mindful and deliberate in your thoughts and actions. By taking the four steps above, you can start yourself down a path to being a more strategic thinker and enable yourself to connect ideas and people in a way that makes your contributions more purposeful and valuable.