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You want to be known as a strategist. It would benefit your career for you to be seen as someone who can lead your organization into the future.
But there is one problem.
Exactly what does it mean to be a strategist?
Generalizations like “Make more time for futurist thinking” don’t actually help you on the path to actually doing strategy. You need more help than that.
What exactly is a strategist? Let’s first look at what it is not.
- A practitioner of magic. You don’t have to be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat to be a strategist. That notion alone places strategy into the realm of the mysterious and unachievable. Most strategists I know think very concretely, base their decisions on solid data, and communicate their ideas in very simple terms.
- The work of a creative few. I often hear people discount taking on a strategist role by saying “I’m not a creative type.” The fact is that anyone can learn how to solve pressing business and social problems. We all have sparks of creativity in us.
- The task of very senior leaders. One of the myths of strategy making is that one has to be at the table with people in the C-Suite or be a Chief Strategy Officer to influence the birth of an innovative idea. Some of the best ideas come from the bottom up and percolate their way to the senior leadership. You have a ton of novel concepts right now. Let them see the light of day.
Here are some ways you can “do” strategy.
- Find something that will add value to others that is not already being done.
In this way you will make the news instead of just reporting it. Keep a diary of these ideas and then wait for one of them to jump to the top of your list. Partner with your customers and listen to their future needs. This will shape your innovative ideas as well.
- Express your idea in a clear, concise, and compelling picture.
Begin your strategy statement by completing the following sentence
“Imagine a day when….”
That approach puts your idea solidly into the future. Some of the best comments I have heard have been from,
An employee at a credit card company who said,
“Imagine a day when we will live in a cashless society and all people will use for financial transactions will be credit cards (now of course it is Smartphones).
An IT person at a major railroad who mused,
“Imagine a day when all of our trains will be operated remotely (the driverless car idea.)
All of these ideas are at different stages on their way to becoming a reality. But each individual did more than come up with an idea. They,
- Sell the idea to “deciders” in the organization.
You will not execute on a strategy by yourself. Find a sponsor in the organization who believes in you and your concept and who can help make it happen. All great leaders are in a constant search for people with great ideas that will add value.
The time has come for your great idea to see the light of day. But be persistent because you will run into naysayers. Bypass this negativity, take all input as a way of making your idea stronger, and nurture that idea like you would a developing child.
See you on the path to your becoming more of a strategist.