At the heart of every organization is the desire for success. Businesses, nonprofits, and governments all have a deep-seated and sometimes passionate purpose for existing. Most people don’t start a business or accept a key role without careful thought, deliberation, and planning. Countless hours are invested in working smart and working hard toward goals of improving year after year.
However, it may be surprising to know there are many organizations that, over time, may not recognize strategic thinking as a high-level priority and path to success. What is strategic thinking, and why is it so important?
Strategic thinking is defined as a combination of innovation, strategic planning, and operational planning. Let’s dig deeper to understand it.
To develop innovation requires adopting a creative, exploring mindset to imagine what the most ideal future of the organization would look like. Key leaders should ask the question, “What must we do to surpass customer, organization, and employee expectations?”
Think of Amazon, the company that excels better than anyone at the customer experience. Not only was Amazon a pioneer of e-commerce, but they packed a punch to the other online sellers by creating mind-blowing innovation in customer service.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, did not skip over strategic thinking when he determined that Amazon would be a customer-centric company. “We don’t focus on the optics of the next quarter; we focus on what is going to be good for customers. I think this aspect of our culture is rare,” said Bezos.
Once you’ve done the work of research and strategic thinking to stake a claim on the perfect innovation, it’s time for strategic planning to determine the how and when of carrying through to the achievement of success. The input of key leaders and employees is needed to develop the strategies required to reach the big objectives, then operational planning sets the goals, action steps and timelines for succeeding.
Michael Stanley, CEO of Business Improvement Architects says, “The goal is to out-think, out-plan and out-maneuver other forces or competitors. The notion of combat implies a central premise of competition in the pursuit of “fulfillment.”
While you’re working hard and working smart, put strategic thinking at the top of your list of business priorities. Just like Bezos, you must understand that the needs of the customer come first. Every organization has customers, and without them, there is no business, nonprofit or government entity. So, think strategically. Do the research, innovate, plan, implement and benchmark. Your success depends upon it.
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