08 May 2020

With a bit of direction and the right techniques anyone can become a better strategic thinker and, in the process, a better businessperson. Here are 5 tips to improve your strategic thinking

2:00 min

„To fight the heat, I’m trying out a whole new technique that consists of sitting still on the couch. No way man, just sweat anyway.“

Strategic thinking is often considered to be a lot of empty words with no real meaning and only used by senior executives. But this is not the case; it can – and should – be used by everyone in the company.

Strategic thinking involves visualising what might happen in the future and then applying that to our current circumstances. That may sound difficult when we have little time to think about what’s in front of us, let alone what might be in the future but what better opportunity to start thinking more strategically than the current situation where lockdown forces us to speak and interact differently with others, to develop completely new time and priority management skills and to eradicate some of our bad habits.

The skills that we need in order to be able to think are wide-ranging and include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem solving and decision making. And these can be applied to any situation – it doesn’t matter if you are hatching a new plan to rescue the country or just thinking of how to stay cool in the heat sitting still on your sofa.

Strategic thinking helps people review their approach to things, perform long term planning, set goals and determine priorities, and identify potential risks and opportunities. With a bit of direction and the right techniques anyone can become a better strategic thinker and, in the process, a better businessperson.

Below are 5 tips to improve your strategic thinking:

1 Make time to think

And that means making a commitment to slow down and let your mind turn things over. One simple way you can do this is to schedule a time every day or every week where you actively try to simply spend time thinking. It could be during a morning walk, while you are cooking, or blocking out time in your diary during work. However you choose to do your thinking, just make sure it happens regularly: the more often you do it, the better you’ll become. You will need time to reflect on issues and think about options.

2 Always show curiosity in what others do and how they manage their work

Strategic thinking and curiosity go hand in hand. After all, the more ideas and experiences we’re exposed to, the more material we have to make connections with. The most effective way to do this is open your mind and allow other ideas in: listen to colleagues’ ideas and thoughts or allow yourself to listen to ideas you have. Sometimes even taking a different route when out for your daily exercise can help stimulate the mind.

3 Positive, positive, positive!

Try to find a positive aspect to every idea you come up with – you are smarter than you give yourself credit for and there will have been a reason you had the idea initially so give yourself time to find the good in it. And try to only suggest positive changes to an action or an idea that will add value.


4 Discuss your ideas with different people

This becomes far more valuable when you discuss your ideas with people who think differently to you – but be sure to listen and be open to different perspectives. That’s because you won’t just be increasing the pool of ideas and points of view on a topic, you’ll also be given the chance to look at problems in a different way. So if you tend to like detail, but a colleague is big picture, why not ask them to join you for a brainstorming session? Your clients can also serve as a great source of inspiration for new ideas and new ways of thinking. And by encouraging them to share their thoughts with you, you won’t just end up with material for new strategic ideas, you’ll be strengthening relationships and building trust.

5 Knowledge is power!

There is no substitute for knowledge and guidance. In your quest to develop strategic thinking skills, it is essential to stay updated with new information and patterns. These external factors can affect your thinking and ideas. Gather as much information as you can and continuously communicate with those around you.