On Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is as much science as an art form. You need to use both the right and left side of your brain in order to truly excel, and this takes both confidence and practice.  Here are some good tips on how to think better strategically:

  1. Don’t follow a pipe-dream.  A pipe dream is a passion project that no one is willing to pay for.  Forget about those right now. Strategic thinking has no place for it.  Refocus your attention on passion projects that people will pay for.  Think of every offer on a quadrant: the x-axis “how much people will pay” and the y-axis is “how many people will pay.”  Obviously, the ideal is having lots of people pay lots of money.  Easier said than done… BUT, what you can do is determine whether few people will pay little money for it.  If that’s the case, skip it. Move on.  You are better than that.  People are successful in the other three quadrants (with some work), but the passion project usually isn’t one of them.
  2. Envision great things and use your strategic thinking to make it real. When you enlist both of these abilities, you can easily see your future and evolve your strategy to focus on the details as well as the big picture.  The clearer you can see everything, the easier it is to implement the entire strategy.
  3. Don’t forget to take time off from the grind. Giving yourself a brief respite is essential.  Don’t think of it as being lazy – rather you are recovering for better performance later.  Strategic thinking is a brain-intensive exercise. I suggest going to a quiet place—preferably a weekend retreat, but a day or even an afternoon off, failing that—and sit with your thinking hat on. Try it.
  4. See the big picture, always.  Strategic thinking and the framework of developing it is about seeing the big picture and planning for the future. The results today may not be perceptible, but, over time, it will yield 10x dividends or more.
  5. Be aware; be present.  All great strategists have this quality. There are literally clues to a fortune all around us — you just have to be lucky or skilled enough to discern them.  In fact, some companies – pay big, big bucks for data hidden in plain sight.   Maybe it’s noticing that there is no coffee shop in 1.4 miles of a particular location; or that you noticed people tend to buy beer with their diapers… these insights can be worth millions to the right buyer.

Good luck on your next endeavor!

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