Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Strategic Thinking

I have been in a nicely called training, entitled "Strategic Thinking". I must admit I was a little bit disappointed that it was a "back-to-basics" of management, i.e. Mission (or Statement of Purpose), Vision, Strategies (Initiatives), and Action Plan (I would rather call it an "actionable plan"). But it's a great refresh actually, as we are always so much dragged into the day-to-day operational business, that we hardly remember that we have to set time aside for thinking about the business, and not only performing it.

Of course, you cannot afford to lose the focus on the operational part, as this is core - but you DO have to stop from doing at some points in time, and start THINKING.

And this was the main idea behind the whole training: STRATEGIC THINKING means THINKING. Something that we don't always do, but the biggest strategists and the biggest achievers do often. In your busy calendar, find half a day when you plan to regularly think about your business - and I mean "regularly", like in every few weeks. Take an airplane view, and think about where you want to be, and where you are now, what is stopping you from being there, and how you can overcome the obstacles. Put everything down and build a plan or update your current one.

A few things to keep in mind about the plans, though:
- plans are meant to help you, but they should not be frozen - keep them up to date depending on the changes that occur
- what is relevant today, might be obsolete tomorrow, so always update the plan
- spend enough time in planning, but not too much.

Planning is also one of the most important activities in Project Management as well - in order to achieve the objectives layed out so nicely in the project charter, you have to plan, and continuously update the plan as the project progresses.
Plans are nothing; planning is everything. Dwight D. Eisenhower
When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people. Chinese Proverb
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Benjamin Franklin
All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination. Earl Nightingale
If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. Jim Rohn
A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.George S. Patton
Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently. William A. Ward
In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high. Henry David Thoreau
Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan. Tom Landry
Always plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. Richard C. Cushing
Think also about your carefully planned vacation: you know you don't have that much time to waste in your vacation, so you take the time to choose the destination, ways to get there, and activities you want to perform there - all with a great purpose: to make yourself feel great. What stops us from doing the same with our business activities, and with the full personal life?

To help you prepare, here are a few books I have selected to help you:
Strategic Thinking: A Nine Step Approach to Strategy and Leadership for Managers and Marketers
A Sense of Urgency
Leading Change

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