How can you get better at strategic thinking? Or in other words, “How do you improve your thought process?” One of the keys to becoming a great leader is to constantly improve your strategic thinking, so you can adjust to new global realities.
The first step is to accept that you are not right most of the time. You have to “constantly” question your own opinions. One way to do this is to surround yourself with people who don’t think like you. People who will question you. Make these people a key part of your team because what you don’t want is to be surrounded by YES men.
Another tip is learn game theory. Game theory is the study of strategic decision making. And strategic thinking is all about making better decisions. Game theory provides you tools to help you gain added perspective to generate alternative views. If you have added perspective, you’ll be able to anticipate and think critically about what may lay ahead; which are key strategic thinking habits.
Anyway, here a few simple and cost-effective ways to begin developing your strategic thinking ability:
- Read widely
- Watch movies you would never watch
- Participate in hack-a-thons
- Participate in a Startup Weekend
- Talk/work to people who are younger than you
- Talk/work to people who are not in your industry
Simple right? To anticipate what may lay ahead, the next thing you have to do is try to connect the unfamiliar. For example, can you make a connection between the movie The Dark Knight Rises and a marketing campaign for losing weight?
Why wouldn’t someone get some inspiration from the Dark Knight Rises about how to recruit and nudge people into changing?
Want to go further? Here’s another tip to complement the above points and create a more powerful combination:
Develop a virtual board of advisers
What is a virtual board of advisers? Much like you have a group of people whom you rely on for objective feedback and guidance, your virtual board of advisers lives in your head and should include people who have coached, educated, bettered, influenced you in any way.
It can include people you’ve never met too. For example, since my second name is Arthur, I call my virtual board of advisers “King Arthurs’s Court”. And in it, sits Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, Napoleon Bonaparte, Walt Disney, to name a few.
I can hear you saying that this isn’t possible. How can one think like other people? The virtual board of advisers trick works because we are adept at recognizing and comprehending well-integrated human personalities. Thinking through how a particular well-remembered expert might respond to a problem can be a richer source of criticism and advice than abstract theories or frameworks.
When I face a problem, or have generated a first hunch, I turn to this panel and ask, “What is wrong with this approach to the situation? What would you do in this case?”
Learning from others can be more than simply listening to them, watching them, or reading what they write. When you build your own virtual board of advisers you go one step farther, trying to shape your understanding of their teachings into a virtual personality. When it works, it does so because we humans have built-in software for understanding other humans, software that is more expert at recognizing and recalling personalities than at almost anything else.
Want to be a better and more effective leader? Develop your strategic thinking capabilities by doing the above.