Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Find Time to Think Strategically

We often lament we’re busier than ever at work, running from meeting to meeting, firing off e-mails and trying to get something done without an interruption every five minutes.
In other words, who has time to think anymore?
If you feel like you’re always putting out fires instead of thinking about how to prevent them, you’re not alone. But that’s a trend that worries Rich Horwath, CEO of the Strategic Thinking  Institute and author of “Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking.”

“Companies that don’t carve out time for managers to think individually and collectively about their key business issues simply won’t exist anymore,” he says.
He explains that research shows that the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy is bad strategy, and companies like Blockbuster, Circuit City and Borders are living proof as “they failed to adapt to the changing needs of customers relative to their competition,” He says.
“If a leader doesn’t schedule time to think strategically, it simply isn’t going to happen,” he says.
But the cost isn’t felt just by billion-dollar companies. Horwath says that failing to think strategically can impact our own careers, no matter our jobs.
Specifically, many industries are continuing to reduce head count, which means that those who keep their jobs need to continually “build their body of expertise to remain essential to the business” and “actively learn from your daily experience,” he says.
For example, each of your work experiences such as a meeting or teleconference or customer interaction provides a learning opportunity.
“Ask yourself, ‘What was my takeaway/ learning/ insight?’ If you’re not continuing to build your expertise through new insights, you are vulnerable to becoming obsolete,” he warns.
Still, even if we commit to being more strategic in our own careers, that doesn’t guarantee others will share our enthusiasm. For those such as project managers, that can cause a lot of headaches.
Horwath says one way that project managers can gain a greater commitment from others to stick to a strategy is finding a common ground “or what you’re both trying to achieve.”
Once that is achieved, then you can gain alignment on how to get there, he explains.
“Once you’ve identified the commonality in the goals, it’s helpful to establish milestones (see more here)

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