8 Tips for Creating Structured Thinking

Taking Time for Strategic Thinking is One of the Keys to Leadership Success

The Executives we work with in Executive Coaching often struggle with taking the time to do the Strategic Thinking they need to do to create the success they want to create. To combat this, I usually suggest that they calendar this time on a regular basis, so that they make sure it happens.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.” —Henry Ford

Set Strategic Thinking Appointments

Having a Strategic Thinking appointment seems to help many Executives ensure they take the time to look at the big picture, look at their competition, stay abreast of the market climate, work to create new products and services, anticipate operational or people problems, and be proactive.

Sometimes, even if the time is scheduled, Executives will let other priorities get in the way of keeping their thinking appointment with themselves.

Structure Your Strategic Thinking Time

The day to day urgent demands of the organization are a powerful pull away from spending time in Strategic Thinking, but I believe another reason that Executives don’t keep their Strategic Thinking appointment with themselves is that they haven’t planned what to do during that time.

I believe creating a structure for Strategic Thinking time can help Executives fulfill this intention.

8 Tips for Structuring Your Strategic Thinking Appointment

  1. Start with a question in mind.
  2. Begin with an outcome or product in mind: a flowchart, a workflow, a PowerPoint presentation, a bubble diagram, a Venn diagram, a list of pros and cons, a list of strategies, a list of ideas, a landscape of the competition, a list of new ideas, etc.
  3. Start with a problem statement.
  4. Do a timed written data dump on a strategic topic, for example: How to Beat the Competition, How to Differentiate Ourselves, New Products or Services, Hiring the Best, Retaining the Best. Write for 5, 10, or 15 minutes, then go back and analyze it, Mindmap it, flowchart it, or organize it.
  5. Work on synthesizing two approaches or ideas.
  6. Draw out ideas.
  7. Put concepts in a list and then organize them into related groups (using Post It Notes).
  8. Look at the situation from different perspectives:
    • As your boss would
    • How your customer would
    • As your competitor would
    • Like a Millennial would
    • 10,000 feet in the air
    • From the perspective of an ant
    • As Lincoln would
    • Like a race car driver would
“Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” —Walter Lippman

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With Our Consultations Coach: Chris Sier, PCC (BIO)
With Our Consultations Coach: Chris Sier, PCC