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  • Writer's pictureEdel Flynn

How Managers Can Improve Strategic Thinking

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

During the last two years, business owners and managers have had to rapidly adapt to the challenges thrown at us by Covid-19. In the beginning, I was an avid follower of the daily government announcements of lockdowns, who could work in an office and who could not.

I had recently returned from Italy in February 2020 and within a month the World was turned upside down.

Watching on in sheer shock and disbelief I would have to pinch myself to ensure it was not all just a bad dream. With the high numbers of people dying, the impact on family, friends and colleagues was truly heart-breaking.

Daily Government Announcements about Covid 19
Daily Government Announcements

We worked closely with our clients to put in place H&S protocols to make it as safe as we could for those essential workers to continue to attend the office. At the same time, we looked at ways to keep clients connected. We did this by sending regular updates, newsletters filled with advice and helping them to navigate the ever-changing government advice by sending them H&S advice and links to government available funding designed to keep businesses afloat.

As a business ourselves we scrambled to find face masks, hand sanitiser, social distancing screens and at one point our hand sanitiser was sourced from a #Gin Distillers in #Kerry. I did have to pick my favourite Dingle Gin. Element78's office was the cleanest place to be.

It is hard to believe that is nearly 18 months ago.

Hand sanitiser sourced from Dingle Gin Distillers
Hand sanitiser sourced from Dingle Gin Distillers

The first year of the Pandemic was a practical example of how managers and/or business owners are often action-orientated, and in extreme circumstances reacting to external factors outside of our control. In the second year of the Pandemic, we began to look to the future and concentrated on ways to Improve Strategic Thinking in order to be a better business for our customers and to ensure we survived as a business. Our Executive scheduled time dedicated to growing our business each week giving our management team time to think strategically. We did what we advise our customers to do and put a key focus on revisiting the standard tools that are useful to develop strategic thinking such as:

  • PESTEL Analysis – we carried out a detailed Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal review of our business; we now have this in place to use frequently to see how different factors evolve and what impacts are affecting them

  • Maslow’s Pyramid – looking at our business versus the physiological needs of our customers and future customers we have identified a clear path to success

  • Porters 5 Forces – looking at the competitive forces that will impact our strategic thinking has been hugely helpful in designing our new strategy and way forward for the business

Discussing our thoughts with trusted partners and advisors to get their input has set us up for success!

Discussing our thoughts with trusted partners and advisors to get their input has set us up for success!
Discussing our thoughts with trusted partners and advisors to get their input has set us up for success!

We reached out to trusted partners and advisors to get their input and I believe this has set our business up for success. The following are some of the key steps we have in place for our managers to improve their strategic thinking that you in your business may find helpful:

  1. Peripheral Vision – take time to look around. If you are constantly looking straight ahead you will miss opportunities and not detect what is happening all around you.

  2. Step Above the Noise – spread your wings and learn how to fly. If you walk with your eyes fixed on the path ahead you are being tactical, but the strategy is not about walking. You need to fly above the noise to develop the ability to see beyond mere tactics.

  3. Love What You Do – it is important to love and be proud of what you do. Become passionate about making the place you work better for you and those you manage. Build a better place to work for all and develop strategies that attract people that are better than you are.

  4. Delegate and Manage Your Time – in order to be an effective strategic manager you need to own your time and delegate effectively and clearly. How many things do you do that could be done by a member of your team? If you don’t let go of the reins how will others progress their careers?

  5. Trust –strategic planning is all about growth and a big part of being successful is people. You need to empower, collaborate with and inspire your team. A good way to do this is to allow them to share fully in successes.

  6. Be Customer-Centric – use agile methodologies when implementing your strategy as inevitably a strategy has changed as soon as it is completed. It is essential to put your customer first and ensure you live, breathe and be in the shoes of your customer.

  7. Implementation – key to any strategy is successful implementation. Spend time with your team setting clear KPI’s and put incentives along the way to reaching goals. Celebrate success!

  8. Anticipate the Future – being strategic means you will envisage different scenarios. The companies that win are those that write the future.

  9. Staff Engagement is Key – ensure you have a strategy on how to engage your staff. Remote working does make this more challenging but tailoring your Employee Value Proposition to suit each individual is the way forward.

  10. Build a Sustainable Business – every business needs to live its values. Most companies will say we are equal, diverse, flexible, inclusive, sustainable, etc. but if you do not live those values your business will not survive. Staff and clients will see through the noise and choose to work with companies that are authentic.

Love what you do. Be proud of what you do.
Love what you do. Be proud of what you do.

It is so hard to see an end to the pandemic, but there is no denying that the world of work has changed forever!


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