Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Three Questions to Assess a Person's Strategic Wisdom

A strategic thinker always “keeps the end in mind.”

There is no doubt that strategy becomes more important, not less in organizations large or small today, because of the fierce competition, rapid changes, and hyper uncertainty. Digital professionals have to continuously set up standards of competence and ability to enforce professional responsibility, with good intentions, and having capabilities to think strategically, but is there such one question to ask to determine a person’s ability to think strategically?

Do you have a clear vision and keep the end in mind? A Strategic thinker always “keeps the end in mind.” Visions need the system of strategic thinking. A strategic mind gains the understanding of the past and an understanding of the future so far as data permits; a strategic mind has the ability to view the complete business system as an ecosystem with all its dependencies and interconnections; it has the ability to tie all these things together in order to develop actionable plans; it has the ability to identify key leverage points where non-proportional impact can be made; it has the ability to hypothesize interventions and iterate them till the right fit is made.

Are you embracing simplicity or addictive to complication? In a corporate world, you will find the attitude of complicating things in systems and procedures and people love to hang on to the complications and express how they are experts in dealing with complications. Overcoming complication and managing complexity becomes one of the biggest challenges in business today. Strategic and Systems Thinking generally, if not always, strives to find a simple solution. You have done just that with your simple but profound and clear example on how to gauge an individual's thinking style quickly and effectively. Systems Thinking is a methodology for addressing complexity. Firstly, Systems Thinking is not a methodology, it is underpinned by several fundamental concepts. Holism is just one. Systems Thinking allows you to see the whole, in terms of its inner processes, its interactions with external systems, its components, the specific interactions amongst them, etc. So if you are a strategic and system thinker, you will embrace simplicity.

Can you think contextually? A strategic mind is contextual, that awareness of a larger organizational context is valuable, and people should understand how they create value. Such knowledge will motivate many people and make them feel more engaged with their work. context is important, the power of context is in the ways you can change the factors that create a context. For complex problem solving or strategy making, understanding context is often the first and the important step in understanding - without it, you are working without any boundaries, or basis for understanding what you are doing. Context is multidimensional in terms of understanding the scope - functional and physical, and a third aspect, to assist planning, risk assessment etc., and to understand the environment in which the "something" will be developed and then operate. Critical thinking is a crucial element in strategic thinking and an important skill to have in this rapidly changing business environment as well. Recognizing the changing trends and needed corrections to a strategic plan is a huge asset to a company.

There is a need for digital leaders and professionals who can think strategically and possess a curiosity to ask WHY and knowing HOW of what strategic management is. However, there are no magic bullet questions and that one must know what is meant by "strategic." Generally speaking, strategists have a clear vision, can think long term, mastering at both critical thinking and systems thinking, and they also have the creativity to come out the alternative solutions to the old problems or thorny issues. They are the one who can set the right priority, follow the system principles such as simplicity, but also be learning agile to adapt to the changes in the fast-paced digital environment.


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