Thursday, 6 March 2014

Are you a strategic thinker?

Creative Strategic Thinking
By Jo Ellen Grzyb

Many, many years ago when I was Director of Special Events for the New York City Ballet someone asked me if I was a strategic thinker and at that time I wasn't exactly sure what that meant. 

To do listI was organised, clear about my goals, seemed to have a good road map for achieving them and had a pretty good idea of the potential pitfalls and road blocks. The events I ran, from huge galas that raised millions of dollars to more intimate donor dinners, were successful and well-received and I was usually satisfied that my project management was on-track and my ability to work with everyone - from visiting royalty to major donors to performers and support staff - was also pretty good.

But was I a strategic thinker? Did being well-organised, having to-do lists, juggling schedules really well mean I was strategic?

I didn't have an answer then, which probably had as much to do with my confidence levels as it did with truly understanding the question. Now, in retrospect I can absolutely say that I was and am a strategic thinker and that it has very little to do with those to-do lists, well-thought-out structures, plans, etc.

What it does have to do with, is about being on the alert to avoid old patterns and expectations, to avoid the predictable and most of all to avoid having a fixed picture and ways of doing things that stifle creativity, spontaneity and unpredictable problem-solving.

Yes, end goals are important and having a vision of how to achieve those goals is essential. However, it is very easy to get stuck on what ‘it’ is supposed to look like and to behave and have expectations of other people’s behaviour based on that fixed picture.

What I realised help make me successful in what I did then (and of course, what I do now) was a fluidity in my expectations and picture of the outcomes I aspired to. That fluidity meant far less stress because if something went wrong I had the creative wherewithal to find solutions that fit the situation rather than my picture of what it should be.

What has changed over the years is that I am far more conscious of using my creativity when planning things strategically and being able to communicate that creativity to those around me whose support I need and want. When I was younger, I see now that I often worked in a more isolated fashion because I didn't involve others in my vision and invite their creative solutions – I felt I had to do it all myself.

That’s the joy of creative strategic thinking – finding ways to articulate a vision and a strategy and bringing all those plans and to-do lists to life. It’s about being consciously aware of old patterns that can limit innovative thinking and get in the way of finding fresh solutions to any challenges that will inevitably arise during any project or plan.

And finally, it’s about channelling passion, enthusiasm and motivation in order to avoid the same old same old.

Impact Factory runs a two day course that gives an introduction to the idea of strategic thinking and more importantly provides some practical tools and techniques for turning strategy into reality.
Find the next Creative Strategic Thinking Course in London.

Post copyright Impact Factory 2014





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