Can you learn the skills needed to creatively envision a path forward? Absolutely! No one is born a ready-made strategic expert. Luckily, the challenge and adversity needed to practice strategic thinking aren’t hard to find. Even a novice strategist will see obstacles as opportunities to change the way things are. With a little practice, you can begin to do the same whether it’s at home or in the marketplace.
At its core, strategic thinking is about exploring unexpected paths. To begin discovering unconventional ways forward, one must disrupt commonly held views and beliefs. Here are some basic exercises to warm up your strategic thinking:
1) Ask questions…lots of them! As adults, we may perceive asking too many questions as “childish” or even just plain silly. Yet, it is the heart of strategic thinking. Prepare your ego, and ask away. If someone remarks: “Well, that’s an odd question,” you’re probably on your way to truly thinking outside the box. The path to innovation is not paved with practical thought. Practice asking questions daily.
2) Play games. It’s summertime, so get out there and have some fun! Learn how to play chess, play cards, or even make up a game. Gin happens to be the favorite in my family. Not only will you have a great time, you can practice developing strategies in a low pressure environment. Creatively planning a winning strategy, whether in a game or in business, can be very similar: What are your opponent(s) goals? Why did they make that move? Would there be a mutual benefit in helping another player? Working through these easy questions can get your mind on the right track to begin thinking strategically.
So, there you have it: An easy intro to strategy. Take advantage of the fun and games associated with summer to begin changing your mindset. In a future post, I’ll offer more exercises with more depth to really charge up your strategic mind.
If you have suggestions for tuning up your strategic thinking skills, please leave a comment below.
It’s your move. Make it a great one!