Creating Space for Strategic Thinking in Business and Life

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Clients often engage us to help them think differently, often more expansively. All come in with a desire, idea, or plan – could be for a next gen product or better user experience, tapping into a new market, developing a go-to-market launch campaign, improving their brand strategy, or something else.

They generally believe the essence of their idea or plan is good, but have a niggling feeling that their idea or plan may somehow be “off” or missing something, but can’t really put their finger on what’s going on or why.

It’s kind of like, on a personal level, when you start to do something and some deep knowing inside says “wait!” or “think again” or “there’s more here.” We’ve all experienced this uncertainty in business and life, countless times. You might notice it as tightness in your gut, or cloudiness in your mind, or a drop in your energy. At that point, you have to choose – you can just keep going anyway and ignore that internal guidance system; or you can stop, step back, and think strategically about your idea or plan from a much larger perspective.

In business and life, stepping back to think from a larger perspective is what I mean by “creating space” for strategic thinking. Now I recognize that to some of you this may sound “woo woo” and very California (hey I live in San Diego!). But hang in there with me.

Because when you do create a bigger space for strategic thinking, all kinds of new possibilities emerge. The result may be a major pivot, a slight adjustment, or no change at all. The other really important outcome is your acceptance at a deep level and without reservation that you are on the right track and doing the right thing.

Here’s what happens: By creating space to think strategically from a much larger perspective, you are letting go of the how (for the moment) to focus on the what. You become aware of any self-justifying but discomfiting loop you were in. You see where your creative exploration of possibilities and strategic thinking was constrained in non-productive ways.

What very quickly becomes clear is whether your desire, idea, or plan is in alignment with the mission and purpose of your company or business unit. In other words, you will know if, from your internal perspective, your what delivers on your why. Then as a next step, you might choose to do research with your stakeholders and customers to see how they perceive the alignment between your desire, idea, or plan, what they expect of your company, and what they want and will buy and use.

Most importantly when you create a bigger space for strategic thinking, you are demonstrating to yourself and others in your company to trust and act upon the inner guidance we all have. Which is very different than deferring to the critical voice we all have as well. You can tell the difference because when you move business decisions into a more expansive space though your inner guidance system, there is no judgment involved. The higher level of strategic thinking emerges naturally and with little effort. When your critical voice is the driver, the experience is full of judgment and diminishment. Not fun, not productive.

Next time you are faced with making a decision on a desire, idea, or plan, and some deep knowing inside says “wait!” or “think again,”… then listen. Do it. Give yourself and your team the opportunity to step back, make space for fresh, strategic thinking. Emerge knowing with clarity the right next steps.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to author Jim Case for inspiring this post.