Strategic thinking skills can be improved for various reasons, for example to develop business management skills, lead a more focused and purposeful personal life, or win a game of chess. Whatever the motive, make sure you involve other people and stay focused on what comes first when you go about your daily life. The ability to think strategically helps you anticipate various impacts that may occur so that it is easier for you to plan. In addition to practicing, you need to challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone. However, your strategic thinking skills will improve if you apply the following instructions consistently!
Method 1 of 12: Allocate time to think
Step 1. Don't let a busy schedule keep you from thinking strategically
When you're busy, maybe you prioritize routine activities, instead of focusing on the goals you want to achieve. However, you can think strategically by taking a break from your daily routine. For that, allocate time in your weekly schedule so that you can be alone while thinking calmly and free from distractions.
- For example, if you are a company manager, allocate 2 hours in your weekly schedule to think about strategies to lead your department, such as briefing the team on steps to achieve work targets and explaining how to be proactive in anticipating problems that may arise.
- Don't get distracted so you think about routine activities while taking the time to practice strategic thinking. If needed, jot down the things you want to follow up to keep you focused on your long-term goals.
Method 2 of 12: Observe the repeating pattern
Step 1. Try to identify recurring problems
When reviewing long-term goals, such as your company's business performance or personal life conditions, try to keep in mind a problem you've experienced over and over again. Thus, you are able to make a strategy to overcome it.
- For example, companies have difficulty sending goods when bad weather occurs on the shipping line. Therefore, you need to make a contingency plan, for example determining a new shipping route or using another expeditionary fleet.
- Another example, if you enjoy competing, such as playing chess, you may notice that your opponent is used to making certain moves when they feel cornered. Once you realize this, you can hinder the move by blocking certain pieces.
Method 3 of 12: Be curious
Step 1. Be curious and don't be prejudiced
An important aspect of strategic thinking is rejecting the status quo by being a critical debater when asking yourself questions. Don't hesitate to question why things are done a certain way or think of a better way. Also, try to find information if something is not clear or confusing. This step helps you find solutions to problems that may occur in the future.
- For example, if you notice that your office's document filing system is a mess, think of other ways to keep your files organized.
- Another example, if you want to be an entrepreneur, ask yourself, "Can my business fail?" and "What are the possible obstacles?"
Method 4 of 12: Ask for input from others
Step 1. Get in touch with people you can consult
Instead of asking for opinions only from people who have always supported you, form a team whose members are ready to provide advice or input. When a problem occurs, ask them how they worked it out to get some unexpected feedback. No matter what business you're in, getting input from different perspectives can help you find creative solutions, but that doesn't mean you have to let someone else decide.
- For example, if you work as a project manager and are facing a problem. Ask everyone involved in the project how to solve the problem, from the director to the field workers. Then, determine the best solution after considering all the suggestions given by the team members.
- When asking for your opinion, prioritize people who often challenge your thinking, such as a friend who says, "Have you considered the negatives?" Opposing opinions are very useful for doing strategic planning.
Method 5 of 12: Anticipate problems before they occur
Step 1. Think about the possible consequences
You can't focus on long-term goals if you keep being reactive. Therefore, be proactive by anticipating changes or obstacles that may occur. Creating an effective strategy is much easier when you think about what could happen in the future.
- For example, as a businessman, you need to find the latest information about technological developments that risk making your service or product obsolete. Then, determine how to take advantage of the new technology to keep your business running.
- In personal and professional life, no one can predict what will happen, but usually, problems are easier to deal with if you are prepared.
Method 6 of 12: Try to make things better
Step 1. Don't just find fault
Instead, try to see the bright side of every situation. That way, you can determine what to do based on the good things that are happening. Sometimes, this step can prevent problems from occurring.
- If there is a problem, be the one who always provides a solution, not the one who makes things worse.
- For example, if your team is often late in completing tasks, determine a strategy so that each employee can increase efficiency so that tasks are completed on time.
Method 7 of 12: Set clear targets and evaluate regularly
Step 1. Execute the strategy by focusing on long term targets
Determine reasonable targets according to SMART criteria which stands for specific (specific), measurable (measured), achievable (achievable), realistic (realistic), and time bound (deadline). In addition, prepare a work plan by determining specific steps to achieve the target.
- For example, if your company's marketing strategy is to increase ad impressions on social media, create a work plan that includes several steps, such as selecting an audience, creating attractive ads, uploading ads on schedule, and establishing a consistent product image for the brand being served.
- Conduct periodic evaluations to monitor progress to ensure the work plan is going well. Feel free to adjust targets as this plays an important role in determining that the strategy is still relevant!
- Keep in mind that you don't need to go into too much detail about how to reach your goal. In personal life, be flexible when monitoring the achievement of targets. In the aspect of work, give flexibility to team members as long as they are able to achieve the target according to the deadline.
Method 8 of 12: Focus on the main target
Step 1. Don't let small issues distract you
A great strategic thinker understands that he will fail to achieve his main target if he gets entangled in trivial matters. When you need to tackle something, think of the best solution that supports the achievement of the main target. This way, you can decide what to do without spending a lot of time worrying about useless things.
- Consider carefully before making important decisions. Patience plays a big role when thinking strategically.
- For example, you set a target to pay off credit card debt within a year. When the dishwasher breaks down, you decide on a strategic move, namely washing the dishes by hand until the credit card debt is paid off, then saving until you can buy a new dishwasher for cash.
- Another example, if you are a factory owner and want to expand your market share, buying a new machine is the right investment strategy, especially if the customer satisfaction index drops due to slow production processes.
Method 9 of 12: Perform the most difficult step in the work plan
Step 1. Focus energy on the aspects that most need improvement
Identify an aspect of your personal or professional life that is very unsatisfactory and think of a solution. In a game of chess, this is called "fixing bad practices," but this move can be applied to all aspects of life from personal matters to managing a large company. Once the issue is resolved, identify another "bad practice" and work to fix it.
For example, if you want to keep your house tidy, start by determining the areas that get messy the most. Then, set a schedule for tidying up the area. If it's done, continue with tidying up other areas that are often messy
Method 10 of 12: Balance logic and creativity
Step 1. Use the left and right sides of the brain in a balanced way
Strategic thinking can mean tackling problems with innovative solutions, but you have to be realistic and logical when deciding which solutions are workable and which are not. Determine the best solution after considering 2 options, instead of prioritizing the interests of either party.
- For example, when developing a new product, you want to provide creative solutions to problems faced by consumers, but you also have to think logically by considering cost efficiency, selling price, and machine capacity.
- Don't be afraid to take risks when strategizing!
Method 11 of 12: Learn from experience
Step 1. Reflect; don't just react
When experiencing difficulties, the reaction that is often done is to experience the same event over and over again without taking the time to reflect on what happened. To improve your strategic thinking skills, you need to reflect on past events to understand what happened, why, and how to prevent it from happening again.
- For example, if you've spent a lot of time developing a new product that you're not interested in, realize that you need to get feedback early on in the product planning process. In this way, you use resources to produce products that people are interested in.
- Learning from mistakes is important for strategic thinking because it can help you avoid obstacles in the future.
Method 12 of 12: Play various games
Step 1. Improve your strategic thinking skills by playing sports games, playing video games, and playing chess
If you want to apply your strategic thinking skills, try a game that's a bit more serious, then put it to practice! Chess is considered as an effective way to improve strategic thinking skills. However, there are other ways to practice while having fun, for example:
- Playing video games that require strategy on the fly can also train you to think faster and spontaneously. This is very useful when you need to determine strategies in everyday life.
- In addition to providing various benefits for physical and mental health, playing sports also improves strategic thinking skills.