Four Ways to Improve Your Strategic Thinking Skills Today



4 ways to improve your strategic skills (arcade joystick game videogame style) - for MY OWN ARTICLE (all caps) (LR)

Strategic thinking is often considered essential to an organization's successful performance. Some have even advocated for companies to develop the strategic thinking skills of their executives and other staff as a core competency. How can strategic thinking skills be developed? But first, here's a definition.

“Strategic thinking is a distinctive management activity whose purpose is to discover novel, imaginative strategies which can rewrite the rules of the competitive game; and to envision potential futures significantly different from the present. Furthermore, strategic thinking is specified as being conceptual, systems-oriented, directional (linking the future with the past), and opportunistic.”
— Ellen F. Goldman


In other words, strategic thinking is a process used to broaden an individual's perspective to achieve successful outcomes such as competitive advantage. And it can happen at every level of the organization; it's not just for executives.

Here are four specific things you can do to improve your strategic thinking skills.

1. Schedule Time for Strategic Thinking

You are investing in your success as well as that of the organization. Find the time to focus on strategic thinking. A tip is to place a recurring event on your calendar to reserve time for strategic thinking activities.

2. Monitor the Big Picture Including Trends

The default focus at most organizations is on what’s directly ahead. However, "peripheral vision"—including keeping sight of the big picture and industry trends—is essential for long-term success. Some tips follow. Keep abreast of industry organizations and publications. Build external networks to help you best scan the competitive landscape. Determine the unique perspective that your role provides, and define its favorable impact on the organization’s vision, mission, and/or strategic objectives.

3. Ask Questions to Uncover Patterns

Further to your mindfulness of the big picture and understanding of changes in the industry, you can put strategic thinking to work by asking yourself and others questions. A few examples follow. "What if _____?" questions are frequently effective in helping one "see around the corner." And variations such as "If _____, then _____?" often yield insights as well.


4. Embrace Uncertainty and Conflict

Strategic thinking involves envisioning the future and potential proactive ways the organization can change to remain competitive and successful. You should accept that the future is uncertain, and challenging assumptions by asking questions and other tactics may make some people uncomfortable. Remaining mindful of those aspects will help you stay the course in regularly practicing strategic thinking and securing the benefits summarized in this article.

Conclusion

By sharpening your strategic thinking skills, you benefit both yourself and your organization. It helps you make a greater contribution to the business—which may also support your advancement—and it helps the company enjoy greater competitive advantage and long-term success. So, start work on your strategic thinking skills today!

Bibliography

Atsmon, Yuval (2017, May 2). How to Unleash Your Strategic Thinking. Digital article. McKinsey & Company.

Bonn, Ingrid (2005, June). Improving Strategic Thinking: A Multilevel Approach.
Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 26 (5). DOI: 10.1108/01437730510607844.

Cowan, N. (2001, February). The Magical Number 4 in Short-Term Memory: A Reconsideration of Mental Storage Capacity.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24 (1): 87-119.

Dixit, Avinash K. and Nelebuff, Barry J. (1993).
Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Goldman, Ellen F. (2007, Summer). Strategic Thinking at the Top.
MIT Sloan Management Review, 48 (4): 75-81.

Graffius, Scott M. (2016).
Thinking Strategically and Acting Tactically. Winnetka, CA: Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions.

Reynolds, K. (2013). Strategic Thinking for Today's Project Managers. Paper presented at PMI Global Congress 2013—North America, New Orleans, LA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Syrett, Michael and Devine, Marion (2012).
Managing Uncertainty: Strategies for Surviving and Thriving in Turbulent Times. London, United Kingdom: Profile Books.

About the Author

Scott M. Graffius is an agile project management consultant, practitioner, award-winning author, and keynote speaker. Content from his books, speaking engagements, and more has been used by businesses, governments, and universities, including Gartner, Cisco, RSA, Ford, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, the United States Department of Energy, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, Texas A&M, and others. Thinkers360 named Scott a Top 20 Global Thought Leader and Influencer. His full-length bio is available at: https://bit.ly/bio-smg.


★★★★★


Connect with Scott on
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Scott M. Graffius Awarded Scrum Foundations Educator Credential



SFE LR

The Scrum Alliance awarded Scott M. Graffius with the Scrum Foundations Educator credential. Scott now holds eight professional certifications:

♦️ Certified Scrum Professional - ScrumMaster (CSP-SM)
♦️ Certified Scrum Professional - Product Owner (CSP-PO)
♦️ Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
♦️ Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)
♦️ Scrum Foundations Educator (SFE)
♦️ Project Management Professional (PMP)
♦️ ITIL Foundation (ITIL)
♦️ Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB)

His updated bio follows below and is listed at:
https://www.scottgraffius.com/bio.html.

Scott M. Graffius: Short-Form Bio



Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, SFE, ITIL, LSSGB has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of business value in aggregate for the organizations he has served. He is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author, and international speaker. His expertise spans project, program, portfolio, and PMO leadership inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid approaches. Content from Scott's books, workshops, speaking engagements, and more have been featured and used by businesses, governments, and universities including Gartner, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Ford, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Department of Energy, the United States Army, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, Texas A&M University, Penn State, Virginia Tech, University of Waterloo, Loughborough University London, and others. Thinkers360 named Scott a global top thought leader and influencer in three domains: Agile, Digital Transformation, and GovTech. His full-length bio is available at https://www.scottgraffius.com/bio.html.


Scott M. Graffius: Long-Form Bio



Scott M. Graffius has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of business value in aggregate for the organizations he has served. He is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author, and international speaker. His expertise spans project, program, portfolio, and PMO leadership inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid approaches. Content from Scott's books, workshops, speaking engagements, and more have been featured and used by businesses, governments, and universities including Gartner, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Ford, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Department of Energy, the United States Army, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, University of Waterloo, Loughborough University London, and others. Thinkers360 named Scott a global top thought leader and influencer in three domains: Agile, Digital Transformation, and GovTech.

Scott is the CEO of
Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™, a professional services firm, where he helps client organizations strengthen their project management capabilities and realize their strategic objectives and business initiatives. The consultancy provides advisory, training, and facilitative consulting services related to governance and project, program, portfolio, and PMO management. The firm’s expertise spans agile, traditional waterfall, and hybrid approaches. While every engagement is unique, outcomes typically include getting more projects done, faster delivery time, improved on-budget performance, improved customer and stakeholder satisfaction, and more. Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ confidently backs its services with a Delighted Client Guarantee™.

A fantastic agile transformation experience and result with a client organization in the entertainment industry was the inspiration for Scott’s first book,
Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions (ISBN-13: 9781533370242). It helps technical and non-technical teams develop and deliver products in short cycles with rapid adaptation to change, fast time-to-market, and continuous improvement—which supports innovation and drives competitive advantage. The book garnered 17 first place awards from national and international competitions. His second title, Agile Transformation: A Brief Story of How an Entertainment Company Developed New Capabilities and Unlocked Business Agility to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Change (ISBN-13: 9781072447962), was named one of the best Scrum books of all time by BookAuthority. Scott and his works have been featured by media outlets and publications including Yahoo Finance, Computer Weekly, the Boston Herald, MobileAppDaily, NBC WRAL, Thinkers360, Informa (UAE), the Dallas Business Journal, Innovation Management (Sweden), the PM World Journal, ip-label (United Kingdom), BookLife by Publisher’s Weekly, NASSCOM (India), Software Quality Management, Nimble Ways (Morocco), The Hiring Analytics Playbook, ALLAGIS (Guatemala), Business Application Monitoring, Human-Station (France), Learning Solutions, The Marketing Factory (Netherlands), Innovation Ecosystem Metrics, DZone, Savills (India), BRP Creative (Australia), People Performance (Singapore), Innovation Project Management by Dr. Harold Kerzner, TopDevs (Canada), Shelf Unbound, Epicos (Greece), Luxembourg Trade and Invest (Luxembourg), Better Humans, Serendipity (Netherlands), NHD Podcast, and others.

Scott is a former vice president of project management with a publicly traded provider of diverse consumer products and services over the Internet. Before that, he ran and supervised the delivery of projects and programs in public and private organizations with businesses ranging from e-commerce to advanced technology products and services, retail, manufacturing, entertainment, and more. He has experience with consumer, business, reseller, government, and international markets, as well as experience spanning 20 countries.

Scott has a bachelor's degree in Psychology with a focus in Human Factors. He holds eight professional certifications: Certified Scrum Professional - ScrumMaster (CSP-SM), Certified Scrum Professional - Product Owner (CSP-PO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Scrum Foundations Educator (SFE), Project Management Professional (PMP), Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB), and IT Service Management Foundation (ITIL). He is a member of the Scrum Alliance, the Project Management Institute, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

He has been actively involved with the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the development of professional standards. He was a member of the team which produced the
Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures—Second Edition. Scott was a contributor and reviewer of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge—Sixth Edition, The Standard for Program Management—Fourth Edition, and The Practice Standard for Project Estimating—Second Edition. He was also a subject matter expert reviewer of content for the PMI EMEA Congress 2019, and he served as a member of the review team for the Scrum Alliance’s Global Scrum Gathering—New York City 2020.

Scott delivers dynamic and engaging talks at in-person and online events around the world. His speaking engagements include in-person and online conferences and other events in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States. Scott delights audiences with sessions on technology leadership and project, program, portfolio, and PMO management inclusive of agile, waterfall, and hybrid approaches. He uses everyday language and vibrant custom visuals to make complex topics clear, and he provides audiences with practical information they can use. For details, visit the public speaker section of his website.

He resides in Los Angeles, California.


★★★★★


Connect with Scott on
Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.




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