Sharpen Your Strategic Thinking Here

Strategic thinking integrates analytical skills, problem-solving skills, creative skills, communication skills, along with management skills.


Strategic Thinking is the hard stuff of business.

If you are looking for a few ideas to strengthen your strategic thinking, sharpen your ability to see new solutions, think more critically, and be more analytical to help impact your business’s growth and competitiveness, then keep reading.

Strategic thinking is critical for all organizations since it charts the path between the present and the future and helps leaders shift their focus from short-term execution to the longer-term needs of the organization. For this reason, strategic thinking skills are highly desirable and worthy of improvement through learning, study, and practice. 

“Knowing the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it.”

Richard Feynman

The Skills of Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking integrates analytical skills, problem-solving skills, creative skills, communication skills, along with management skills. These skills can tremendously impact a business’s trajectory, growth, and competitiveness in the marketplace. These skills are essential, allowing a business to achieve its objectives, overcome obstacles, and address challenges it faces in the markets.

  • Analytical skills: A strategy starts by understanding objective data from your business, markets, and stakeholders. These inputs include financial statements, KPIs, industry trends, market conditions, and vendor and stakeholder perspectives. This step helps define the current reality facing your business.
  • Problem-solving skills: Strategic planning is often used to solve problems or address challenges, such as missed financial targets, inefficient workflows, or an emerging competitor. Implementing a strategy addressing your central challenge requires understanding the problem and its potential solutions. From there, you can craft a strategy that solves it.

“A real strategy is a coherent mix of policy and action designed to overcome a significant challenge” 

Richard P. Rumelt

  • Creative Skills: An excellent strategist can integrate data analysis with problems and challenges to generate new approaches and ideas. Developing your competitive advantage requires understanding your firm’s unique resources and capabilities and leveraging them in new ways not previously available in the market. These new approaches require one to see “between, around, and through” the obvious to find a new path forward.
  • Communication skills: Implementing a strategy for your company requires exceptional communication skills. Strategy can appear complex making it essential that all stakeholders understand and are aligned, so everyone works toward the same goals and objectives. Building teamwork, consensus, and collaboration make communication critical to strategic success.
  • Management skills: Strategy isn’t just about thinking of solutions; it requires action to achieve results. Once data has been analyzed, the problem is understood, and a solution has been created and communicated, you need strong management skills to bring everything together.

With the core Strategic Skills outlined, let’s work on improving them. The good news, like any skill, your strategic thinking skills can improve with focus and practice.


  • Ask the hard questions. To improve your strategic thinking skills, ask more challenging questions. These questions can relate to products, markets, management, or any question that points to adding value for the customer. Doing so allows you to become adept at spotting opportunities, and exploiting opportunities is what strategy does.
  • Observe and analyze. Use Reality Testing to see things as they are rather than how you would like them to be. One of the most effective ways of accomplishing this is to observe and reflect on your current situation, ensuring any strategy you conceive is objective and grounded by facts.  

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard Feynman

  • Play the Devil’s Advocate. Before implementation, your strategy requires thorough analysis, evaluation, and testing to ensure other possibilities are noticed. Play the Devil’s Advocate with your ideas, assertions, and analysis will make any weaknesses or shortcomings evident. You need to be able to defend your strategy when questioned by others. Defending your strategy against other Team members further hones your thinking and logic, helping you better communicate and execute the strategy. Considering opposing ideas, perspectives and opinions further enhances your strategic thinking skills by forcing you to step back and look at the short and long-term views.
  • Always keep learning. The body of knowledge related to strategy is massive. Learn from your work and the experiences of others, as well as books, references, journals, society memberships, presentations, and conferences. Be committed to constant learning and self-improvement.


Strategic thinking is essential for business today, regardless of your role or industry. Remember, you can practice these skills in your daily life as well. Try exercising these skills as you plan and face challenges in your own life. Finding an effective solution or alternative will be easier.


5 Key Mindsets for Business Growth

It turns out that achieving profitable growth comes from the “choices” a Leader makes.

Growth is essential for a business; leaders aspire to achieve it, yet for most, it remains elusive. McKinsey states that 25% of companies show no growth, and over the last decade, only 1 in 8 achieved more than 10% annual revenue growth. It turns out that achieving profitable growth comes from the “choices” a Leader makes.

Do you, as a leader, make a conscious choice to grow? Or do you pay lip service to your growth ambitions and let your resolve fade if profit isn’t immediate?

Sustainable growth is challenging, but choosing a growth mindset is the essential first step, and it’s readily available to every leader regardless of the industry, economy, or business size. These growth mindset leaders think, act, and speak differently. They seek to align strategy and capabilities with customer needs, wants, and desires. They explore and invest in opportunities both within and outside their core business. They maintain their direction, commitment, and growth vision despite unexpected turbulence and surprises.

A recent article by McKinsey and Company (see reference) explores the characteristics of these leaders who make a purposeful choice to grow and follow through on that choice. 

“…changes in thoughts and actions arising from choice can make the difference between sustained standout growth and remain with the pack.”

Although McKinsey’s research focused on C-Suite leaders of large corporations, there are actionable ideas that any entrepreneur interested in profitably growing their business can use immediately. Leaders who display at least 3 of the following five characteristics (see infographic) are 2.4 times more likely to outgrow their competitor’s profitability. 


1. Emphasize ACTION over PERFECTION.


3. Know their CUSTOMERS as a PERSON.

4. FOCUS on LONG-TERM growth.


Action over Perfection. 

With clear strategic goals, objectives, milestones, and metrics, it is easier for leaders to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. This focus helps leaders maintain momentum even through turbulent times. Seeking more information or waiting for the perfect timing are merely stall tactics designed to put off making a decision

“Perfection is the enemy of progress.”

Winston Churchill

Be Willing to FAIL. 

Growth leaders understand that their core business maintains their current financial results but is unlikely to achieve profitable growth. Expanding the business by innovating into new markets, creating new businesses in adjacent markets, or building businesses through mergers and acquisitions is essential for long-term growth.

Know your Customers as a Person.

Market offerings must meet the needs of the customer. Capabilities and Competitive advantages must always relate to the customer, with all products and services providing customer solutions. 

Growth leaders can improve their chances of achieving growth by committing to innovation while identifying and understanding the needs and wants of their customers. Only by knowing the customer can the correct value propositions be developed that will appeal to them. 

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”

Seth Godin

Focus on Long-Term Grow.

While achieving excellence in current operations is critical, growth leaders rely less on historical budgets that feel “familiar.”, choosing instead to explore how to ignite growth. They adapted their operating model for the long term while understanding the risks inherent in the new businesses and markets they were developing. At times these “growth choices.” came at the expense of a few quarters of earnings while always envisioning their long-term growth aspirations. 

“Overnight success stories take a long time.” 

Steve Jobs

Growth leaders accelerate their results through strategic shifts to higher growth pockets within their current markets, innovate core products and services, and improve execution capabilities. They actively track and measure leading and lagging key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with organizational goals and incentives.

Communicate their Successes.

Growth leaders generate 80 percent more shareholder value than their peers over ten years. Beyond creating shareholder value, growth attracts top talent, fosters innovation, and creates jobs. Growth becomes the lifeblood of an organization, feeding the culture, elevating ambitions, and inspiring a sense of purpose. This growth story must be shared repeatedly by all, both inside and outside the organization, to continue to attract the star performers that will perpetuate the growth mindset.

“When you have a winning culture, employees can speak genuinely and convincingly about why your organization is a great place to work. And that naturally attracts people who are seeking exceptional workplaces.” Gallup

Choose the Growth Mindset today.

Making the deliberate choice to grow creates powerful momentum that drives the entire business toward its vision and creates alignment between executives and frontline employees. The 5 Mindsets for growth highlight essential elements leaders need today to achieve profitable, sustaining growth. Focus diligently once they have made a deliberate and purposeful choice to grow.

5 Key Mindsets for Business Growth



Are You Sending Mixed Signals?

Short-circuiting clear communication channels with “on-the-fly” changes, micromanaging, and reassigning tasks throws a “monkey wrench” into the operation.


Is it possible that you are sending mixed signals to your Team?

Some days it’s a “GO,” others it’s “STOP,” with a few “MAYBES” in-between.

Do you say one thing yet act differently?
Do your instructions and guidelines change constantly?
Do you have “favorites” on your Team or in your workplace?
Do you keep some people incompletely informed?

Some signs that this could be occurring maybe;
You are repeating instructions to your Team.
Work is delayed or must be redone.
The same mistakes are made repeatedly.
You find yourself doing tasks that you have asked others to do.
You are a micromanager and perfectionist.
Drama has resurfaced within your Teams.

All workplaces, Teams, and C-Suites are faced with management challenges. To achieve optimal results, all stakeholders must be working towards a common result. Executives must provide clear goals that support strategic objectives. Clear and precise communication is essential. The actionable part, the tactics, can then be implemented and monitoring delegated to the managers. Short-circuiting clear communication channels with “on-the-fly” changes, micromanaging, and reassigning tasks throws a “monkey wrench” into the operation. These actions delay results, risking subpar performance and falling short of your goals.

Try the following;

1) Assign a project or task.
2) Determine what deliverables you desire.
3) Set a due date or date for a progress report.
4) Delegate the above.
5) Don’t intervene or interfere.
6) Watch what magic happens.

Try it; you’ll like it.


Effective LEADers are Conductors…not One-Man Bands

Effective Leaders are conductors who can empower, nurture, and enable others to perform and contribute at their best.

The musicians are on stage, each one preparing and tuning their instruments for the performance ahead. The cacophony from all the other musicians doing the same sounds nothing like the musical score in front of them. This process continues until the Conductor takes the stage. Soon after, with the baton raised, all are poised to begin. As the Conductor brings the baton down, what was noise is magically transformed into music. As the score progresses each orchestral section is queued into the performance by the Conductors baton.  Never does the Conductor stop, sit down, and begin playing an instrument.

Leaders are not one-man bands.

Effective Leaders are conductors who can empower, nurture, and enable others to perform and contribute at their best. This is best accomplished by allowing all team members to work at the edge of their abilities, constantly expanding their skills, knowledge, and abilities. The effective leader embraces this paradigm by letting go and trusting others. There is no time or place for micro-managing here.

The best businesses are not one-man shows.

Letting others contribute maximally enables an organization to magnify their results, achieving what would have been impossible individually. Amazingly, this isn’t even the best part. By allowing others the freedom and opportunity to learn and contribute together, they too begin to exercise their Leadership muscles.

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What Condition is Your Condition in?

Take care of yourself.  Do what makes you happy and enables you to rest and recharge…


As Leaders, we are concerned about so many things…

  • how is our organization doing?
  • are we meeting the needs, wants, and desires of our Stakeholders?
  • is our financial health strong?
  • are my decisions sound?
  • do I need more information or less information?
  • should be doing more, or less?
  • are there opportunities I may have missed?
  • is our strategy solid?
  • are my employees happy in their workplace?
  • am I missing Blind Spots?

One question that is not asked frequently enough is…

How are YOU doing?

Just like the airline flight attendants tell us before every flight…

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

If we don’t put our mask on first, we will very likely not be able to help others that are counting on us.


Take care of yourself.  Do what makes you happy and enables you to rest and recharge; exercise, good nutrition, meditation, socializing, time for creative activities are just a few ideas to get you started.

I found this on Spotify…fans of The Big Lebowski may recognize it too!

The Title and Lyric says is well…

“I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in”

The First Edition

So…what condition is YOUR condition in?


Dealing with Difficult Employees: Nip it in the bud!

People rise and fall to meet your level of expectations for them.
John C. Maxwell

It’s human nature to avoid what is painful, regardless if the pain is physical, emotional, financial, or even at work.

Do any of these sound familiar in your workplace?

  • tardiness
  • bickering
  • absenteeism
  • micromanaging
  • backstabbing
  • employee turnover
  • rules are not followed
  • you walk on eggshells
  • cliques have formed
  • employees team up against others
  • fingerpointing
  • the workplace is stressful and chaotic
  • you move or reassign a problematic employee
  • you have a Drama
  • Gossip
  • you are held hostage by employees
  • people say one thing yet do another
  • requests are ignored
  • poor morale
  • Finally, things appear to be getting worse rather than better?
If any of the above are present in your workplace, then it is time for ACTion.

People rise and fall to meet your level of expectations for them.
John C. Maxwell

This dysfunction prevents your organization from achieving its goals. Even worse, if left unchecked, it could create a hostile work environment. Your employees know precisely what is going, who the instigator is, and are watching you! You must ACT.

You have two choices.
1. ACT, quell the dysfunction, unit your Team, improve morale and get back on track to serving your clients and achieving your goals.
2. inACTion shouts even louder, demonstrating to everyone your inability to lead, your favoritism and selfishness, and your disregard for your Team and the Clients you serve.

The cure is ACTion!

Without a doubt, managing your workforce and engaging in difficult conversations are some of the most demanding and most challenging tasks a Leader will face.

To begin, set employee expectations and hold everyone accountable. Yes, this is much easier said than done! These are complex tasks, but delaying them magnifies the dysfunction and makes the “cure” even harder.
To make these conversations easier, stick to the facts. The facts are always more precise and fresher in everyone’s mind when current.

Don’t dig up things from the past.


Use the following formula:
1. State the employee’s defined job duties, your expectations.
2. Review the employee’s present behavior and the adverse effect it has on the business.
3. Coach the employee on the desired behavior and outcome.
4. Schedule a time to monitor their progress, that’s accountability.

Remember: Attitude Reflects Leadership, always!

Once your Team sees you are taking action and holding people accountable, they will take notice. After all, aligning and motivating your workforce is what an effective Leader does.

Engine or Caboose? Lead or Follow? Which one are you?

The magic happens at the Engine, seeing what lies ahead and choosing when, where, and how you will get there.

Engine or Caboose?

Lead or Follow?

It’s a simple choice, one or the other. There is no middle ground.

How often do you follow someone else’s recommendation or idea? It could be a product choice, investment idea, or business decision.

At times being the Caboose feels safer. It’s easier to be pulled along, not having to determine where, when, and how fast you will travel.

The magic happens at the Engine, seeing what lies ahead and choosing when, where, and how you will get there.

You can’t lead from behind.