Thinking Strategically: 7 Tips for Seeing the Big Picture

  1. Think “what if?” With every idea or course of action under consideration, ask yourself and others, “If we implement this idea, how will other units and stakeholders be affected? What might be the long-term ramifications of this decision?”

  2. Broaden your perspective. When making an important decision, resist any urge to choose quickly from the first few alternatives that emerge. Instead, expand your range of alternatives by gathering ideas and concerns from your full range of stakeholders—everyone who has an interest in the decision or who will be affected by the final choice and its outcome.

  3. Grasp your company’s and unit’s strategies. By talking with your boss and knowledgeable peers, as well as examining annual reports and other company publications, formulate a clear statement of your company’s and unit’s strategies.

  4. Get your customers’ and competitors’ perspectives. Look at your group through your customers’ and competitors’ eyes. Ask, “What would I think of my group if I were a customer? A competitor? What would I see as my group’s strengths and weaknesses?”

  5. Stay informed. Use trade publications, business magazines, and other information sources to stay on top of important trends affecting your industry, customers, suppliers, and employees. Conversations with knowledgeable professionals and participation in professional associations can also help you stay informed.

  6. Join up. Volunteer for cross-functional teams and task forces. You’ll learn more about how the many different parts of your organization work together and what your peers’ challenges and needs are.

  7. Play strategic games. Use chess—and any other games that require you to envision a sequence of strategic moves and countermoves—to practice anticipating the long-term consequences of your actions.