And developing your team with your strategy
“I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” – Woodrow Wilson
By Corporate Coach, Michael Steele
As 2017 comes to a close and we have been making our plans for the year ahead, the question that we should challenge ourselves with is “What is going to be different this year?” What am I going to do to make the year different for myself, my business, my personal life and those around me? I contend it starts with the hows and whys of your goals, and the strategic thinking you use to achieve them. It requires time, energy, and sustained effort to create, execute and sustain this strategic thinking mindset so you can focus on your developing strategy.
My first experience with this planning process was early in my career as a college assistant basketball coach. I did not even recognize the steps we were executing until a number of years later. Our head Coach was a highly respected college coach and teacher of the game. He led us through his philosophy of the game and how he believed we could achieve our goal of a championship. We explored, questioned, and reviewed all insights of his style and approaches to the game. We also explored ideas from other respected Coaches to learn and incorporate their best practices.
During these sessions, Coach was looking to not only share his vision, but hear from us (his assistants) and ask for our input, ideas, and our solutions to special situations. Everything was on the table and everyone was expected to share and bring something to the table. Yes, even the newly hired, 1st-year assistant coach – if I wasn’t sharing I would hear about it. The expectation was everyone would contribute to finding solutions.
Creating this “think time,” and bringing the staff together, accomplishes many key points in the Strategic Thinking process as a leader develops their team and organization. Gathering information from other points of view and involving everyone in the process is important. This creates buy-in. Listening to people that work the plan is vital. Let’s break down the process and see how this session was fulfilling the strategic thinking and planning process.
- Planning time. It takes time, effort, and energy to do real planning, identify problems, and create solutions. Too often, during the planning process of setting individual or organizational goals, we simply go through the motions. Breaking it down and getting true buy-in takes focus and effort. It’s important to revisit and adjust the plan along the way – use it as a living document and adjust and add/subtract along during the year.
- Understand the leader’s vision. Each team, organization, or individual must have a goal or vision, a style of doing business. This is the template. The leaders should be inviting the “idea guys” in the organization to develop additional solutions to feed this vision. The optimum outcome is when new ideas and solutions are added to the current plan which enhance or create positive changes. Innovative leaders need to be open, flexible, and willing to pivot to the better idea.
- Gather and analyze the information needed for your plan. Determine what is needed to create solutions, whether it be less staff, better talent, increased technology or something as simple as time management skills. Gathering information is often overlooked and deemed not important. Use outsider’s ideas, solutions from competitors, and information from rank and file – this saves time and money. Strategic thinking works for individuals, small businesses as well as large organizations.
- Creating the solutions. Through self-discovery by team members, asking each other questions or helping each other seek the solutions, we can grow our business and team. Focus on finding the talent and information to grow from within, and the organization will keep the team energized and enthusiastic. Solutions from team members will continue to flow freely as the process takes hold and becomes accepted and not judged. Keep in mind, belief in the system and the vision will take time.
Each leader, coach, or individual has their own style, philosophy, and vision that gives them purpose. Think of it as their “North Star.” Whether you are using this process as a leader, or for your individual goals, challenge yourself to become a strategic thinker, creating strategy around your planning and thinking. It is important to build, believe and follow that process as we strive towards our goals and vision and to enjoy our successes both in our business and in our lives outside the lines.
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” —Japanese proverb
Michael Steele has used his basketball coaching experience to create winning teams in business and finance. He offers a unique perspective to business leaders and team members looking for the “win.” Click here for more info on Michael.