Burst of Innovation - How to Get and Measure Strategic Thinking
As a leader, you know it's critical to today's changing times to think differently about what's in front of you. You need to get out of “business as usual” and break through the status quo. You need to push your team to be more innovative, to growth, and to seek out new opportunities. In essence, you and your team need to think strategically.
The challenge with strategic thinking? You know you need it, but you don't quite know how bring it to life for your team. And, if you kick it into gear, you're not sure how to measure strategic thinking. Yes, you want your team to be better strategic thinkers, problem solvers, and critical thinkers, but you don’t know how to help them. As a result, you become frustrated when they don’t meet your expectations.
So, how do you measure strategic thinking? Let's first talk about how to get your team thinking strategically.
How do you get people to be better strategic thinkers?
You get them to think differently. New strategies develop when people think differently. New ideas get kicked around and gems float to the top. Strategic thinking can be fun, frustrating, enlightening and quite productive. It’s about innovation as well as thoughtfulness. Sounds great, right? But that little voice in your head is asking "how", isn't it?
As it turns out, each of your team members has an innate innovation style. When each team member activates their style, they learn more about how they work best as well as how to interact best with each other. When everyone on the team understands more about how they work best, things really start clicking.
Nine Innovation Triggers
Nine innovation triggers act as levers to unlock each person's innovation abilities. Everyone has a different combination of these power triggers that form their unique Everyday Innovator style. When you and your team understand these styles, you can tap into each of your strengths in different areas and kick strategic thinking into high gear. How you and your team can be better strategic thinkers, better creative problem solvers, better adapters to change, and maybe even harnessers of change, depends on how you innovate.
Example style: Inquisitives
Inquisitives innovate in the questions, and not the answers. They challenge assumptions, pull back the layers of the onion to dig deep and go under the surface to find meaningful innovation. Encourage the Inquisitive on your team to ask more questions that challenge the underlying thinking and assumptions because that forces everyone to do things differently.
Example style: Tweakers
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.
Example: Me (Risk-taker, Experiential)
Personally, I’m a Risk-taker Experiential. I innovate in motion, through doing, and by bringing ideas to life. I have to get the ideas out of my head. If I hold them back, I squelch innovation and strategic thinking. For those like me, more strategic thinking would be experimenting and playing with ideas. When I'm doing that, I shift my perspective and innovate more.
When you tap into your team's natural innovation strengths by giving them concrete guidance, you make it something they can actually do. And once you get them doing it, then you can start measuring it.
How to 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. Here are some key things you can use to measure how strategically your team members think. So grab a pen and paper or create a spreadsheet and start keeping track when they...
Let's dig a bit deeper
For most people, being brutally honest is hard to do. When you see a team member doing it, however, you're seeing strategic thinking. Strategic thinking sometimes forces disagreement with other team members. It means your team, or just one person on your team, isn't just taking things at face value. You see them being willing to challenge things instead of just doing them to check them off our list. Brutal honesty indicates they are pushing the envelope and thinking differently about the problem.
Submitting suggestions or ideas shows strategic thinking also. For Collaboratives, who are all about getting information and pulling ideas together, the more ideas they submit the more innovative everyone can get.
The behaviors in the image above show strategic thinking. They show team members being innovative. It also shows a culture where everyone brings their best. You, as a leader, need to look for the team members who display these behaviors. Their strategic wheels are turning. Rewarding people for behaviors like these 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
Don't think that innovative and strategic thinking has to be a struggle or cause for frustration. Start by getting each team member to recognize the unique kind of innovators they are by tapping into their innate strengths - the tangible side of strategic thinking. Then, once you get them moving in the right direction, look for and keep track of the behaviors. From there, acknowledge the team members who display them.
Give it a shot
So, go ahead. Give it a shot. In a short amount of time, once your team sees the benefits, you’ll have better strategic thinkers, problem solvers and critical thinkers. And then, you'll create more innovative ideas and start capitalizing on new opportunities.
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