Strategic thinking for leaders of teams and teams

Invest 10 minutes to ensure business mission, vision & strategy connect.

That they work together.

Revisit to keep them connected and focused in reality versus wandering off course!

VISION – the why? 

Simon Sinek asserts this is the place to start. Knowing the why is key to enable anything to happen. The roadmap for where business and people are heading. The broad aspirations. Define time specific goals to measure against. [Eg which? by when?] Choose time frame. Ask ‘What are broad aspirations & specific goals for this period? In which areas shall we focus effort; where do we want to go’?

MISSION – the business purpose driven by core values – high level, very specific. Clarity essential.

Include timescales + hard business facts + forensic knowledge of current situation in all aspects. Objectives are key to help achieve the mission. Using SWOT analysis is very helpful. So internal weaknesses and external opportunities; what’s in the strengths and threats and how to translate them into objectives. The phrase “ which will” always turns an issue int an objective. Ask…. If I get these things in place, are we more or less likely to get to our mission?  If not, then you need to drill down some more.

Don’t try to do too much, better to do 4 of the big ones than 8 half done, don’t bite off too much.

Simple formula = Verb, target, outcome

Example: save endangered species from extinction or improve African children’s health. Ask ‘why exist’? Then distil into few choice words.

Strategy – the what?

What is the plan? Both long term and short term. Strategy – main objectives & steps to realise vision – drill down to specific objectives / steps required + what capabilities / skills / capacities needed + management systems / control necessary. Ask ‘What objectives 7 steps required to realise vision? What capabilities have now & which need to develop’? Brainstorm ideas for achieving the objectives. Essential to get consensus about the strategies.

Tactics – the how?

How will the strategy roll out, evolve, be developed, be able to respond to changes? What are the actions? Who will be responsible for implementing, tracking, evaluate the actions? They always need an owner and a timescale. Regular reviews however apply the acid test – if the tactic works is the strategy likely to be achieved?

Vision and mission:

to create these needs mental flexibility, intellectual curiosity, creativity, intuition. As well as decision making, information gathering, systems thinking, analysis of data in a whole variety of formats.

Strategic thinking: what is it?

Strategic: needs to be of high value and importance.

Thinking: Dedicate time to analyse and conceive decisions, ideas, plans in one’s mind.

Strategic thinking is the skill of analysing and conceiving important ideas, decisions, strategies, and plans. It is one of the most valuable skills for success in business & life.

Being able to communicate the why, the what, the how clearly, engagingly, powerfully is essential. Part of the strategy must needs be how to achieve 100% buy in from team, colleagues, stakeholders.

Strategic = broad view with zoom in; abstract with powerful engagement of the imagination; abstraction illustrated with concrete examples; important intuitive framework breaking ideas; embraces alternatives and uncertainties; aims to achieve an overarching goal.

Non-strategic = narrow view; concrete with no imaginative engagement; concrete illustration only; generally understood ideas that fit within a consensus framework; embraces neither alternatives nor uncertainties; focuses on supporting goals.

 Applying this to teams:

When bringing a team together the why is the first step. Why is this team needed? Why choose the members of the team? Knowing the why is for the team fundamental?

What strategy will be used to create the right mix of skills, experience, behavioural preferences?

How will everyone know, understand and buy in to their piece of the ‘puzzle’ that is this particular team? As well as the vision for the ‘puzzle’ as a whole so that each individual knows where they fit and how their role supports or is the catalyst or the partner for other role/s.

Specific project or longer-term project – the nature of what the team is intended for is important to clarify to ensure transparency. Trust being an essential element to a successful team, successful completion of a project, successful enterprise how can this be built and developed?

Disconnects? – What hidden issues could cause disconnect? Expose those potential aspects that could cause disconnect. The potential disconnects will keep everything on track if spotted.