Leaders desiring to change the course and shape the future of their organizations must improve and transform their strategic thinking. Strategic decisions that shape the organization’s competitive environment are not accidental.
Shaping the future requires business leaders to think, plan and positively respond to events and circumstances that emerge along the way.
When it comes to strategic thinking, organizational leaders need to have a clearer understanding of the various parts of the business, how they complement and support each other and be open to possibilities, both good and bad. Strategic thinking prepares leaders, especially in today’s volatile and uncertain economic environment.
Strategic thinkers know how to create an effective strategy that gets the organization to where it wants to be, and often have answers to the most important strategic questions of where, what, how, why and why not. Strategic thinkers ask different kinds of questions relevant to a particular situation, move beyond the obvious by seeing what other people miss, outthink competition and take a different approach to solve old and new.
Formulating strategic questions leads to creative and analytical thinking which in turn creates a variety of possibilities and ultimately clearer and engaging visions capable of shaping the future of the organization in desirable ways.
By asking open questions, strategic thinkers are able to identify and evaluate the implications of changing the current rules, doing something completely different and why the new proposed plan will work and fail. Furthermore, by asking questions, strategic thinkers are able to link ideas from different organizational specialist areas and pinpoint opportunities from challenges, tension and impossibilities.
Before solving any problem facing the organization, strategic thinkers first break the problem into different parts to better understand it, reorganise it and then formulate strategic responses that create new possibilities. Breaking problems and situations into smaller pieces makes strategic thinkers less interested in conformity because this eliminates copy-cat plans and strategies.
As a starting point of becoming effective at using questions to guide strategic thinking, leaders must use why and why not along other imaginative questions that help identify opportunities in different situations. Examples of these questions include:
- How does our industry or sector work?
- What does success look like for our organization?
- What would it take to improve our business performance?
- What is the most important issue or issues we are currently experiencing?
- What can we achieve with no limitations?
- What should we do to eliminate all or some of these limitations?
Having answers to the questions above helps leaders become insightful, imaginative, and innovative which in turn will help them steer the organization into a land of new possibilities different from where they are currently.