The Critical, Company-Wide Need for Strategic Thinking in Today’s Organizations

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There are two high-impact practices that are especially beneficial in building strategic thinking capacity across organizations and failure to leverage them can significantly undermine strategic performance, both short and long term. Yet, our experience reveals these facts:

  1. Less than 15% of companies make it a regular practice to monitor current performance results in relation to the prior year’s strategic plan.
  2. Even fewer take effective organization-wide action to enable employees to think strategically.

Let’s talk about the first opportunity. Without monitoring performance results in relation to the prior year’s strategic plan, managers can’t easily know how effectively performance on goals and score card metrics predicts actual business strategy execution, and further, they risk embedding disconnects between strategy and plan year over year — resulting in underperformance year after year, due to misalignments of business strategy throughout the organization.

Lack of strategic alignment costs money. Disconnections confuse your customers and your employees. What businesses need is to find a way to encourage and develop strategic thinking as a routine practice day in and day out, throughout the organization.

Now, let’s touch on the second opportunity. On the February 2, 2017 “How to Master Strategic Thinking,” was published in Forbes by the Carey-Ann Oestreicher Community Voice Forbes Coaches Council. This important article highlights the opportunity organizations can leverage through organization-wide application of strategic thinking. Management can put muscle into this opportunity by establishing forums, communication and training enabling all employees to understand more about the company’s common purpose, the work of each department, and the impact of every individual’s performance on strategy execution.

The article provides real meaning to this idea with the following comparison of strategy to assembly of a puzzle:

“When you understand more about all areas of the organization and know who all of the key players are, then each project you work on becomes like a puzzle. Each piece, every decision you make, will impact the other pieces either directly or indirectly. When you can think of all areas and the impact your decisions will make on the entire company, then you see the big picture more clearly. That is strategy.”

How to Master Strategic Thinking

We are convinced this can be applied organization wide.

At the bottom line, the solution is building human connections that strengthen understanding of the organization across functions, at all levels, aligning and enabling people to develop and apply strategic thinking. Imagine the implications of positioning all of your people to think strategically.

To drive and strengthen strategic thinking skills and practices in organizations, consider starting with an assessment. An assessment can surface information that generates insights managers can use, to create a roadmap fostering strategic thinking in leaders, managers and the workforce. Over time, strategic thinking can become part of the fabric of the company culture. Think about the possibilities for any organization where strategic thinking is automatic behavior.

Interested in reading more about this? We also recommend the article, “Turning Great Strategy into Great Performance,” by Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele in the July-August 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review.

Your comments and ideas are invited below.

Copyright May 11, 2021 Rosanna M Nadeau

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