Recapturing a Lost Art Form: Taking Time to Think
A strategy or plan isn’t necessarily needed if we don’t have any competitors to contend with in business, athletics or even when pursuing our goals. However, if a competitor exists, then so does the need to develop a plan or strategy that exploits our advantages over our competitor(s).
Unfortunately, this basic concept seems to be a fundamental element often missed in strategic planning and development.
Instead, checklists of activity are often highlighted toward a particular line-item goal, but key tactics to exploit particular strengths and unique competitive advantages are often overlooked or unmentioned. Perhaps one reason is the competitive advantages of the individual team or organization aren’t always known.
Therefore, one of the most powerful elements of planning is the actual time invested to pause and think.
So often we are in such a rush of activity and business that we rarely stop to think about what we do, why we do it and how we can do it smarter. We run in a blaze of activity and feel that this is somehow productive and good. Rarely do we redeem the value of actually thinking, scribbling and simply stretching our imaginations in order to create new and better ways at achieving our goals and growth.
As such, some of the best plans can be reduced to being summarized on the back of a business card. In essence, they are simple to understand, remember, share and execute.
The execution elements should then be focused on the strengths and competitive advantages of the organization, team or individual as compared to its competitors.
When a strategic plan accomplishes this, strengths are emphasized, challenges from competitors are addressed and execution tactics are highlighted and streamlined, which greatly help in the challenge of actually taking the thoughts off paper and putting them into action.
This is one of the greatest challenges of any plan — implementation. How often have we planned, but never implemented it, or had it endure for a consistent period of time?
Strategic planning is powerful because it gets us to stop and think, focus on our strengths, identify our advantages, address our competitors, and simplify and streamline our actions — when done well.
However, the challenge is often getting past step one — taking time to think, identify strengths, developing activities that exploit competitive advantages and finally putting it all into action.
Granted, these are not always easy things to accomplish and definitely require our time investment.
Yet perhaps this is exactly the reason why those who actually do it reap the rewards more often than those who do not.