The fastest way to go out of business is to become yesterday’s news with yesterday’s widget. Staying ahead of the trends, keeping up with changing customer expectations, and marketing to changing demographics is vital to the success of any business. And the people best positioned to do this are strategic thinkers.
People who simply try to repeat that which worked in the past often have trouble accounting for change. When technologies change and logistics pattern need to account for it, outside the box thinking might be the difference between your company thriving and going under. Similarly, a visionary who starts a business but surrounds him- or herself with “yes men” will never have a truly divergent thought. This can lead to ideas getting stale or chasing the wrong ideas. The safety company I’ve been working with is being built with this in mind, not adding yes men but strategic thinkers and doers.
Instead, it is important to hire strategic thinkers who will factor in all elements of a problem and try to come up with a unique strategy to overcome it. They will, perhaps, deliberate longer on a problem than others, and they may come up with ideas that seem counterintuitive to consensus logic, but ultimately they are trying something new. And something new is very important in business.
They also have no trouble expressing their viewpoints. This helps to stem stagnation and ensure fresh perspectives are always considered. This can increase sources of revenue, help to cut waste or help to change the direction of a company when it’s needed to ensure growth and profitability.
But finding strategic thinkers isn’t always easy in an interview. It’s not as simple as reading a resume to find someone with a certification or specific, relevant, experience. It involves analyzing the interaction during the interview. Asking questions around previous times where strategic thinking helped the interviewee succeed can be a start, but canned answers can be in reserve. Instead, it is important to look for characteristics during the interview and while speaking – especially during the “chit-chat” at the beginning and end of the interview.
A strategic thinker should be able to blend logic and creativity. A visionary with no logic and facts to back up their ideas is a dreamer. Someone who can analyze data but doesn’t know what to do with it is a number-cruncher. But a number-cruncher who can develop a strategy from those data points to build revenues is a strategic thinker. Look for the blending of logic and creativity.
A strategic thinker should be flexible and willing to learn from others. Someone who thinks his or her ideas are right, without a thought to the beliefs of others is not thinking strategically and will not help a team. Similarly, if someone has no ability to adapt to a situation or to compromise on a plan when needed may not be an asset long term.
If you look for these skills when hiring your team, you will likely surround yourself with strategic thinkers who can blend their creativity with practicality to create wonderful solutions to the problems that will face your company. They will work together to solve issues and usually can put ego aside for the betterment of the group. And a team with good ideas, small egos, and constant pursuit of excellence is a powerful force that can help take any business to the next level.