Strategic thinking is a vital skill when a market goes through major transitions. Senior members of a team are expecetd to master the strategic perspective of the business. But as an individual contributor you might need to develop one or a few of the strategic facets required.
The four areas that make good strategists stand out is their ability to combine the following:
- Technology insights – technology shifts is the #1 factor CEOs see as drivers for market disruptions.
- Market insights – Markets are more dynamic today and sever shifts can happen fast with disruptive business models.
- Ability to move time between perspectives – your ability to work both with a 0-12 month perspective and a 24-48 month view on the same business opportunity.
- Social skills – taking insights into presentable format and persuade colleagues and partners about the future direction.
The important part of technology is not to understand how it works, but to understand how new shifts can impact your business. Introduction of disruptive technologies bringing new rules to the game for many industries. As a strategist you need to understand these shifts and what is driving them.
Many factors shape market insights. Changes in the broader market environment, is leading to a more dynamic development. Changes in customer needs, is driving customer focused innovation. Disruptive competitors introduce new business models. Most of us have a stronger bias towards either technology or market insights. How well you combine the tow make you stand out.
Strategy and long term perspectives go together. But your ability to move between short term and long term is imperative to create implementable strategies. Strategy execution is perhaps the most difficult part of the work of a strategist. Moving between time perspectives is hard, but is a valuable asset in your strategy creation portfolio.
The last part is about social skills. Most if not all great strategy proposals you will challenge status quo. There is also questions in play when is it the right timing to make strategic moves. Your ability to manage the political landscape around a strategy, move you up from good to great strategists. You need to master the playing field of both play and being played by someone higher up in your organization. All in the interest of achieving the desired change.
A couple of good questions in this area are
- How do my strategy skills map on the four presented areas? – Basics start with a good understanding of you.
- What can I do to better combine technology and market insights into better holistic insights? – Many great strategies come from the intersection of knowledge from different fields.
- How can I contribute to refining the timing aspects of our next major move? – As human beings we tend to over-estimate pace of change short term, and under-estimate it long term.
Good extra reading in this field are:
- The discipline of market leaders [BOOK] – By Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema
- Living on the fault line [BOOK] – by Geoffrey A. Moore
- Dealing with Darwin [BOOK] – by Geoffrey A. Moore
- Back of the Napkin [BOOK] – by Dan Roam
Start building these 4 skills and expect it to take time to master each of the four disciplines.