Burst of Innovation - How to Get and Measure Strategic Thinking

As leaders, we know that it is critical to today's changing times to think differently about what's in front of us. We need to get out of “business as usual” and break through the status quo mindset to push our teams to get more innovation, growth, and new opportunities. That’s where strategic thinking comes in. 

 

The challenge with strategic thinking is we know we need it, but we don't quite know how to make it tangible and real for people. We want our team to be better strategic thinkers, problem solvers, and critical thinkers, but we don’t know how to help them do that, nor how to measure it. As a result, we become frustrated when they don’t meet our expectations.

 

How do you get people to be better strategic thinkers?

 

Ultimately, strategic thinking is about thinking differently. It’s about innovation as well as thoughtfulness. What we’ve discovered is, there are nine triggers that act as levers to unlock innovation in your mind, and everyone has a different combination of the top two power triggers that form your unique Everyday Innovator style. Take the free assessment!

 

When we and our team understand our Everyday Innovator style, we can tap into each of our strengths in different areas - how we can be better strategic thinkers, better creative problem solvers, better adapters to change, and maybe even harnessers of change depends on how we innovate.

 

For example, Inquisitives are people who innovate in the questions, and not the answers. They are really good at challenging assumptions, pulling back the layers of the onion to dig deep and go under the surface to find meaningful innovation. So, if you've got an Inquisitive on your team, you can encourage them to ask more questions that challenge the underlying thinking and assumptions because that forces everyone to do things differently.

 

With Tweakers, whose strengths lie in editing, adjusting, and optimizing, you need a different approach. For them, asking them to be a better strategic thinker could be asking them to take other people's work and to modify it to take it to the next level.

 

Personally, I’m a Risk-taker Experiential. Experientials are all about innovating in motion, through doing, and by bringing ideas to life. We’ve got to get the ideas out of our heads instead of holding them back, because that squelches that innovation and strategic thinking. For us, more strategic thinking would be experimenting with ideas and playing with them because, in doing that, we’re going to have more innovation and shifts in perspective. 

 

These are just some examples of how we can make strategic thinking tangible and real for people. All we're doing is tapping into their natural innovation strengths but, by giving them concrete guidance, we are making it something they can actually do. 

 

How do you measure strategic thinking?

 

Apart from simply measuring if an Inquisitive asks more questions, or if an Experiential tests out more ideas, there are other behaviors that reflect the strategic thinking that we want more of. 

For example, being brutally honest when it's hard to do is an indicator of strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is sometimes about disagreeing with other people and not just taking things at face value. It's about being willing to challenge things, and not just doing them to get them done and check them off our list. So, someone on our team being brutally honest is a sign that they are pushing the envelope and thinking differently about the problem.

 

Submitting suggestions or ideas is another behavior that shows strategic thinking. Particularly for Collaboratives who are all about getting information and pulling ideas together, the more ideas you submit the more innovative you can get.

 

These behaviors (image above) are indicators of strategic thinking, of being innovative, and of having a culture where everybody's bringing their best. You, as a leader, need to be looking out for the team members displaying these behaviors, because that shows that the strategic wheels are turning. Rewarding people for behaviors like that means that you can also measure them at that level. And over time, you will start to see them more at an individual, team and organization level.

 

Strategic thinking is crucial to driving innovation and growth, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a struggle or cause for frustration. It starts with getting people to recognize the unique kind of innovators they are and tapping into their innate strengths - the actual tangible side of strategic thinking. The other part of it is looking for, measuring and rewarding for these types of behaviors that you see that are a reflection and strong indicators of strategic thinking on your team.

 

With these in place, you’ll have better strategic thinkers, problem solvers and critical thinkers on your team, putting out innovative ideas and capitalizing on new opportunities.

Watch the video to learn how to get and measure strategic thinking.


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