Stretch your Leadership Team’s Ability to Think Strategically

Posted by Kristin Arnold on August 22, 2012

Are you working “in” your business or “on” your business?  I see many leadership teams obsessing on the day-to-day issues involved in keeping the trains running – without ever looking into the future to see where the train is going!  These executives are certainly doing what needs to be done for today.  But what about tomorrow? Next year? In the next five years?

To think strategically, you need to carve out the time – otherwise, the urgencies of the day overtake your best intentions.  One of my MBA professors (and successful business executive) used to call this “park time” where literally, he would go to the park and just sit there and ponder the future of his company.

The same type of experience can work for your leadership team.  You don’t need to go to the park, but set aside some time to have a strategic dialogue about issues that are important to your company and its future.  For example, you may want to talk about your clients (their socio-demographics, wants and needs), your products/services (what you offer and the lifecycle), your company (culture, operations, learning and development), your employees (socio-demographics, sourcing and hiring, wants and needs and their learning and development), external forces (economic, social and political implications), technology and the competition.

I suggest you pick one topic.  Just one at a time.  Invest 30-60 minutes kicking that one topic around.

  • Describe the current state of the topic within the context of your business.
  • Describe what might be happening in the next five years.
  • Summarize the key issues, challenges, insights and opportunities.
At the end, have one person write a summary of the discussion and email it to all.  Others can add to the summary if desired.

These short chat sessions are a great way to build your team’s strategic thinking muscle – especially in preparation for a strategic planning session!

Check out this report from McKinsey & Company on additional ways for your team to develop their strategic muscles: Becoming More Strategic: Three Tips for Any Executive

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