Twenty Seven client or programme projects on my plate at the Centre for Innovative Leadership. Number 28, Strategic Thinking for Leaders finished yesterday with some great work around some significant strategic issues on participant organisations.
Of course they were significant. Otherwise they wouldn’t be strategic would they?
Realising the 27 helped me last night understand the dull tiredness around my eyes and accept that there is a lot going on. As a business that’s a good thing – for the business – but not necessarily for those working in it, like me!. Strategic thinking is about working on the business which is really hard when there’s a lot of operational stuff happening. It’s why people come along for a couple of days of reflection and thinking.
Strategic thinking isn’t necessarily to be confused with developing strategy that the organisation wants in a book. I’ve been asked to contribute to strategic documents in the past. Typically, I regret to say, they are about fulfilling a “to do”. Tick off the strategy, so we can get back to work. Organisations that embrace strategic thinking aren’t following the easy short term route – it will involve challenging your thinking, your mental models – and facing uncomfortable questions. It will be easy to slip into solution as you’re going through the process and you might even wonder what you’re doing: “where’s the strategy?” you will question. “What has how I think got to do with the company’s strategy?” you will probably ask. Everything is the answer. If you embrace the strategy with all your underlying beliefs, the strategy will come to life. Writing it up will be the easy part.
Make any sense? Possibly not. That’s the strategy process in its true state. Not making sense at first, or even for a while, but accepting that there are rarely quick fixes. If there were you wouldn’t be bothering with it, you’d be doing.
Try it out on something small like I did last night. Faced with 27 projects all of which seemed to be pressing at me, I did some thinking about our strategic processes and wrote up my thoughts. Nothing directly to do with the projects at all, but now I’ve gained some strategic clarity around some of the ways we are working, the working is already looking easier.
Strategic thinking for small things. Helped me get clarity.