We live in a hurly burly world of busyness and the consequence of that busyness is that it keeps us constantly on the field and in the game. That means that we are unable to see the overall game with any perspective
Get Up Onto the Balcony
We need to create times when we can get off the field and up onto the balcony where we can see the entire field of play.
Picture this analogy in your mind’s eye. You have left the field of play while the game continues. You walk up onto the balcony and you and some of your colleagues are leaning on the railing looking at the game being played and commenting on what you are seeing. You have created some distance so that you can notice things you cannot see when you are on the field. You notice what your own team is doing and not doing. You notice who has brought their A game, and who is off form. You notice what the other team is doing and not doing. You observe the referee and make judgements of how the game is being managed. You notice the changing condition of the pitch. You notice the changing weather.
And while you notice all these things you draw conclusions about what these things are likely to mean for your own team and the outcome of the match.
Many Minds Expand What is Possible
The fact that there is a group of you doing this means that you collectively see more than one person could possibly see; because you all see things from your own point of view, your discussion expands everyone’s point of view; you can see threats and opportunities from the balcony that you cannot see when you are on the field. And of course, as with any armchair sportsman you can see EXACTLY how the game should be played. Furthermore, you see FAR more than the ref does – so much so that you wonder aloud if he is watching the same game!
This is what becomes possible when a group of thinkers (it can be a team; it can be a think tank of people who do not necessarily work in the same team) focuses their collective brain power on studying what is going on in your business field of play. Because life is so busy and runs away with us, it is valuable to put a thinking session into your calendar every quarter, and make sure you invite some really great thinkers.
Think of it as a Think Tank
Who should be in your think tank? These are my views:
- People who read widely: newspapers; business publications; industry journals; technology blogs; biographies and autobiographies; business books; even novels. People who read widely have an broadened sense of the world out there and of what is possible. They know stuff beyond the business, and they have imagination.
- People who have a wide range of interests that include subjects both germane to and outside of the business. Their minds are expanded by their wide interests and this feeds their ability to imagine possibilities.
- People who question why we do things the way we do – people who ask “why” and “why not”.
- People who generate ideas – they see what is happening around them and have ideas for how to respond.
- People who are all of the above but NOT subject matter experts in your area – they can see what you can’t see; they play the game from their armchair and can see EXACTLY what you should be doing.
Park Your Ego at the Door
Drawing these people into your thinktank probably requires that you park your ego at the door. You need an attitude of curiosity about other people’s thinking so that you can enhance and expand your own. This is not your time to show off how smart you are. You have not invited this group of people in so that you can show that you have it all sorted. Your purpose is the create the opportunity for a group of clever, imaginative people to gather on the balcony, share what they see and imagine an expanded and exciting future.
This means that you need to ask lots of questions and really LISTEN to the answers. You may not agree with everything you hear – but this is not the time to argue or disagree. Rather ask questions that invite them to expand on their thinking or address consequences that you can see to what they propose.
Use a Process
I am always an advocate of using a process, and I offer you PESTLED here, as well as methods for weighing up various ideas. There are many other processes and I’m sure they all are pretty good. Process brings rigor and rigor brings quality. People feel valued when they experience the structure of a process, and they are really stimulated by participating in something that generates quality thinking.
If you recognise that you need to start developing your strategic thinking skills and disciplines, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss your coaching programme.