2024: The year of thinking strategically?
New year. New you?
The start of the calendar year is a great time to pause, take stock, and clarify the direction we want to the next 12 months to go.
Smashing that PB, getting more time outdoors, making space for the people that matter. They sound straightforward, but every goal takes thinking, planning, and strategy.
Often we’re great at doing this outside of work, but get so entangled in the day to day of running a business that we don’t operate strategically.
So we’re declaring 2024 the year of strategic thinking.
Our actions need to be aligned with our business objectives, our work should be about finding new and better ways, and our aim should be to help our people be their very best.
But how can you shift your focus to the endpoint rather than getting caught up in the execution? Here are some great starters, that could probably help you with that PB too…
- Don’t let the bigger picture fade
It sounds simple, but amidst challenging clients, competing deadlines, team troubles, it gets lost. Shifting your mindset takes building new habits. With every new project think about how it fits into your objectives, how you can use it to better connections across your team, and how it will affect resources.
Take the opportunity of a new year to ask yourself strategic questions like ‘Where is the business at and where do we want it to be?’, ‘What changes do we need to make to achieve this?’, ‘What gaps in our team do we need to fill?’, ‘What does success look like?’. Just taking time at the end of every week or month to review your progress can help you keep focus on what matters.
- Turn off auto-pilot
Auto-pilot is the enemy of strategy. If a process, a structure, a methodology seems to be working ok it’s natural to just keep going with it. But when we blindly follow our assumptions, we could be missing out on all kinds of opportunities. Take every chance to get new perspectives on your business – from peers, mentors, new and existing customers. When you make a decision play devil’s advocate and try to find weaknesses in your choice. Simon Sinek calls it ‘existential flexibility’ and as he puts it, ‘Be willing to make a profound strategic shift, and take a short-term loss, to stay in game.’
- Find your true value
To lead strategically you need to find your true value in the business and spend your time there. Get out of the weeds and focus on the things that really need your attention – and will make the most difference to the success of your business. It might be working on relationship building with clients, coaching your leadership team, developing a growth strategy, finding a new route for innovation, or all of the above! Identify your focus – and then delegate.
- Activate the three A’s
For Rich Horwarth, the founder of the Strategic Thinking Institute, the key to shifting from a tactical to strategic mindset is ‘Acumen, allocation, and action’. Or in other words the ability to think, plan, and do. It’s all about understanding the situation, putting the right things in place for it to happen, then executing it in the right way. It’s an interesting approach and if you want to up your ‘strategic fitness level’ this piece in the Harvard Business Review is worth a read.
So as we return to the office, resist the urge to throw yourself right back in and try to start as you meant to go on. Take some time, give yourself permission to create space for thinking, and stay laser focused on the bigger picture.