Strategic thinking allows us to be open-minded and look beyond what is. This helps us to bring a fresh viewpoint to old ideas.
Strategic thinking means being creative, open-minded, future-focused and willing to take risks. Conventional thinkers tend to be more reactive, cautious, inflexible and focused on short-term problems.
But how do you know if you are a strategic thinker?
If you can relate to the following 7 ways of exploring the world, you are more at home with thinking strategically than with conventional thinking.
1. Being flexible
Strategic thinkers make plans and set goals, but they are also flexible. If plans need changing, they will revise them. They do not get stuck in rigid patterns of operating that limit their ability to see new opportunities and new directions.
2. Being aware and perceptive
Strategic thinkers are very aware and perceptive. They see things that others pass by. This helps them be great with people and also to see opportunities that others miss. They follow subtle clues to reach new understandings of how to make things work better in the future.
3. Being a life long learner
Committing to always learning is one of the key attributes of great creative thinkers. They know that they learn from every experience so they don’t fear mistakes as much as conventional thinkers do. Their curiosity about the world means that they are always learning and exploring new ideas.
4. Taking time out for yourself
Strategic thinkers know that the brain needs time to digest information. So strategic types take time out for themselves. This helps them rest and restore and be top of their game. But it also allows the brain to make new connections and sift through information. This need for the brain to have time to digest and analyze information is why so many people have their greatest insights while walking, driving or in the shower.
5. Using both sides of the brain
Strategic thinking involves using both the logical left side of the brain and the more creative right side. Using these different hemispheres of the brain allows for new creative ideas, but also for a rational assessment of those ideas.
6. Being open to the advice of others
Strategic thinking means taking the advice of others. Two heads are always better than one and no one is an expert in every field.
Strategic thinkers know that they need to gather the best information from the best people in order to make strategic decisions about the future. They also use coaches and mentors to help them stay objective and open.
7. Being non-judgemental
Strategic thinkers stay open to new ideas and are not judgemental. Judging closes down possibilities. In the creative phase of any new idea, it is important to remain open and non-critical in order to allow the minds of yourselves and others to reach the most creative ideas.
Some of these may be wild and wacky and ultimately unusable. But by staying open there is more chance that a good idea will come through.
Strategic thinking is an incredibly useful skill to have. If you would like to improve your ability to think strategically, try the following ideas.
- Question everything – including your own ideas and opinions. This will ensure you don’t get stuck in rigid or out-dated beliefs.
- Spend time with a variety of different people – this will open you up to different ideas and keep you from getting stuck in one way of thinking.
- Get out for a walk every day – many great thinkers, including Charles Darwin, have found a daily walk helps them have new creative insights.