One persistent myth about the strategic thinking process: it is long and cumbersome. Even if that were true in the past, it’s not so now. More importantly, it should not be! Strategic thinking is not “protracted thinking”—the kind that eventually coughs up a 500-page, door-stop-style plan that is shelved upon completion. If learned correctly, strategic thinking helps to create plans that are living documents—guiding decision-making on a daily basis. Strategic thinking becomes real, actionable, and accessible. Done collectively it is the kind of thinking that quickly galvanizes individuals, companies, and other organizations to produce positive results. Try it—answer these questions for yourself or your team—see what happens!
I was a newly promoted manager who had “made it” – being promoted to the home office. During the first few weeks in my new assignment, I was working late when the President of the Division walked by my office door. He stopped, looked in my office –then directly at me and said “You are a hard worker aren’t you?” He smiled and then said, “I am impressed.”
Why was that important? Well it sent a message to a young and ambitious manager –so much so that I found myself cultivating that reputation. I wanted to be known as one of the hardest working managers in the company. I often found myself looking out the window in the early evening – seeing whose car was still parked outside. It also became a “game” to brag about how many unused vacation days I had at the end of the year. I wanted to be known as the hard working “problem solver.”
Looking back, it seems really silly now. I became burnt out at an early age. Fortunately I was able to recover through the help of good coaching, mentoring and family support.
I am sure I did solve some problems – but where did it get me, my team and ultimately the organization? We had success, but I know we missed our potential because I did not work smart.
It is not about activity it is about results. That happens when you are able to step back and give yourself time to thinking about what is most important. It is only when your shift your mind to results versus activity are you able to win. Then you become the strategic leader who Thinks to Win!
The Next generation of leaders are the ones who will get it right.
For Candace, a promising college senior, the thought of paying off her student loans was a constant worry, keeping her awake nights wondering how to land her dream job; the job that would pay her loans and satisfy her desire to learn and advance in her field. Candace knew it would be difficult, yet she became increasingly frustrated when her search was getting her nowhere. As many young professionals learn, being thrown into the real world can be a daunting task when you are not secure in your skills and what you can bring to a new job. A key step missing in Candace’s dream job process was how to assess her skills and find out what she needed to succeed in a world where most recent college graduates and alumni are unemployed. For Candace’s business management class she was assigned to read Think to Win but she never realized how essential it would be in helping her with her own career search. She found out what she needed was a strategic tool to help with her job search and Think to Win was that tool.
As we worked on writing Think to Win (TTW) we were gratified at myriad ways this analytical process could be used for a host of other applications. Beyond our business model, TTW offers a path to become a winner whether you are changing professions, planning to retire or setting up a nonprofit organization. Whenever important decisions need to be made you will find the TTW process a proven winner. With basic principles to guide you and your evidence based research to answer your questions, the TTW methodology directs you to the best options for your particular inquiry. Like strengthening a muscle, the more you use the process the more adapt you’ll become at using it. From there you will see what a convenient guide you have to make decisions, big and small, when you face the multiple demands of life.
I will be posting a series of blogs about Candace and how she used the TTW analytical process to find her dream job. You’ll learn how she challenged the conventional wisdom about job availability and used evidence- based data to understand the true job opportunities. She examined her goals and worked out the strategies it would take to accomplish them. From reading Candace’s story you too can begin to look at decision making in a new light.