The purpose of cultivating a strategic mindset is to effectively communicate a vision.
A vision that is comminuted with confidence and clarity will motivate a group to focus on creating impactful solutions and executing on distinct corporate objectives.
Here, we examine the benefits of developing clearly defined strategies that define and support the day to day operations of a business.
Definition of Strategy:
Strategy, as it relates to business, represents a pattern of major objectives, purposes, or goals that are supported by policies and/or plans for achieving the goals. Strategies are stated in such a way as to define what a company aims to accomplish, why it's objectives are meaningful, and how the objectives support the purpose of the business.
As a business grows, an explicit statement of the company's strategy is fundamental to ensure continuity. The success of an company in a dynamic environment is dependent upon how the organization articulates what it accomplished yesterday with what it aims to accomplish tomorrow.
Strategy provides a business and it's leadership with a unified sense of direction to which all members of the organization can identify and relate to.
Ultimately, strategy focuses on the deployment of potential towards actionable results.
Fundamental to any strategic objective is a functioning reactive capability. This means recognizing where changes in the market are occurring and identifying how the company can adapt to the changes.
When strategic thinking is lacking, leadership decisions are dictated by either subjective or intuitive assessments of the environment. In this scenario decisions are made independently of each other, and without regard to how each incremental decision impacts the business.
Business leaders who are unable to create an implement a clear strategy are likely to damage the operations and competitiveness of their business. Without an ability to recognize and adapt to change, executive decisions become increasingly unreliable and counterintuitive.
The cumulative effect of chaotic decision making ends up eroding or decelerating the company's reactive capability while the perceived pace of change accelerates.
When To Implement Strategy
Adopting a strategic mindset fundamentally ensures that decisions are aligned towards a common objective that all parties within the organization can understand and act upon.
Implementing strategy becomes particularly important when;
A. When Resources are Finite.
When the tools or assets that support the business are limited, fixed, or restricted. Strategy helps allocate resources appropriately and efficiently through planning.
B. When there is Uncertainty about Competitive Strengths and Behavior.
When executive leaders are unsure what the real strengths of the business are, and how the market will adapt or react to the solution the company markets. Strategy helps identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that exist in a marketplace and how a company can adapt to them.
C. When Commitment of Resources are Irreversible.
When resources have already been committed to, and the commitment cannot be undone, regardless of their viability or value to the company. Strategy helps reduce unnecessary commitments through detailed analysis, planning and by practicing reflection.
D. When Decisions must be Coordinated Between Distant Places over Time.
When communications break-down because of distances and time. Strategy helps maintain objectives align incentives, interests, and decisions towards common goals.
E. When there is Uncertainty over Control of the Initiative.
When leaders and support staff are unsure of the corporate direction, and who is held responsible for oversight. Strategy helps to identify leaders and promote accountability among all stakeholders.
When it comes down to it, a strategic mindset represents the most essential and valuable skill for executive leaders. Strategy helps business leaders create linear maps that encapsulate the broad processes of their business towards a unified goal.
Moreover, thinking strategically enables business leaders to discover and implement effective methodologies to improve the processes of their business, which overtime can improve efficiencies and save money.
Cultivating Strategic Thinking
To cultivate a strategic mindset demands a concerted effort. Leaders must set time aside to effectively develop the mindset and actively practice it on a regular basis throughout their business activity. Fundamentally, a strategic mindset demands that leaders enact the following insights:
Leaders must observing how particular and/or individual insights can be fused together to create a narrative to frame innovative opportunities for their company.
Leaders must reflect and choose which competitive strategy can offer their business the most value, and position their company at the greatest possible advantage in their market.
Leaders must effectively communicate their strategy to efficiently lead others towards executing upon their strategy.
The main challenge to fostering a strategic mindset is dedicating the time it requires to observe, reflect and inspire. Strategic thinking is a meditative process that demands setting aside the appropriate time and space.
It cannot be done in a bustling airport, during a lecture, over a phone call, or during a meeting between 20-30 people. For a strategic mindset to flourish, it needs silence and calm.
This is not to suggest that effective strategies cannot be created with the help of others. The point is that before an individual can effectively discover actionable strategies in a collaborative environment with a group, they must be able to do it on their own.
Unfortunately, organizations large & small often under-value strategic thinking.
They perceive it as a time-wasting exercise that cannot be quantified.
Much to their own demise.
For a company to succeed over the long term, it is imperative that organizations allow their leaders the time and resources they need to reflect on the work that they do.
Great leaders constantly think about what they are doing, what it means, and how the processes and techniques that frame their work can be improved.
Achieving a strategic mindset can be as simple as going on a routine walk outside to clear an refresh the mind.
Companies would be wise to designate a specific period during the week to promote cultivating a strategic mindset, for instance Friday mornings, to be respected as a personal time for staff at the workplace. It could be thought of as a quiet time when meetings and deadlines are not allowed to be scheduled.
During the designated period leaders and staff can reflect in peace on their methods, actions and objectives, and think about how they can adapt themselves to what comes next.
To further inspire strategic thinking, companies should consider promoting the following activities:
1. Read and Research
Without the right perspective and information, it is difficult for anyone to come up with sound strategic ideas. Executive leaders should actively promote great books, blogs, documentaries, movies, and any relatable content that inspires.
2. Plant the Seed
Allow managers an appropriate period of time to frame challenges, and then time for ideas to naturally develop during the work week that address and solve the challenge. Comprehensive solutions take time to emerge & develop, executive leaders should be flexible and promote reflection without treading to closely towards inaction.
3. Log Ideas
Encourage leaders to write down the creative ideas they come up with. Natural distractions in and outside of the workplace can often bring about great ideas, but they can also distract and allow people to forget key insights.
4. Set Goals Around Doing It
Encourage leaders to set incremental goals around flexible deadlines because it artificially creates a sense of urgency that promotes focus and action.
Each of these steps can meaningfully improve the creative propensity of executive leaders to develop coherent actionable strategies.
Companies can flourish when they adopt the right strategy that matches the needs of the business with the team's ability to achieve the desired outcome.
Moreover, the ability to define a clear strategy is the surest way to align the interests of different stakeholders within and outside of the company towards a common goal.
Should executive leaders fail to adopt a strategic mindset, their business will suffer. Gaps will emerge that produce uncertainty, which leads to the misallocation of time and resources, which ultimately results in the direction of the company being lost. Different parties eventually develop mis-matching perspectives and expectations, which produces turmoil and hurts the overall performance of the business.
Fundamentally, strategy is about discovering a system to stay lean, mean and flexible in a dynamic, demanding and uncertain world.
Without strategy, companies have a hard time staying relevant in their marketplace over the long-term, which is why executive leaders should make the cultivation of a strategic mindset a key priority for their business.
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