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Taking action sometimes means stepping back.
At the Haines Centre for Strategic Management 8 partners collectively own the business. If you think it is difficult to get 8 people who work in the same office to make decisions, you should try making decisions when we are in 6 time zones on four continents!
When we run into issues, I try to step back and use our Systems Thinking Approach® (I know what a novel approach to use our own technology!)
Instead of being in the middle of the decision, I try to rise above it and ask “what do we really want?” There will be more than one answer to this question – I can answer it at the organization level, but there are also individual wants. Being a strategic thinker means getting into the clouds and seeing all of the possible outcomes, at all levels.
Once I get an answer to “what do we really want?” I discuss what I think are the answers with the other partners. I could be totally “off the mark” or I may have missed small things.
After we answer “what do we really want?” we need to scan the future environment. We ask “what could change in the environment?” This isn’t what is happening today, but what trends or projections could impact us in the next 6 months to 10 years.
Choose the trends that you think are likely, will have the biggest impact (positively or negatively) or have the biggest risk. These are the trends that you will do something about.
The third step is to get people to decide the metrics that show we are moving in the right direction. We need to answer the question “how do we know we are being successful?”
For example, we are launching a marketing campaign. What are the right measures to show we are reaching people who are interested in Systems Thinking? Is it the number of people who open emails? Is it the number who sign up for our free Systems Thinking Conversations? Is it the number who buy a book or sign up for a course? Again, we need to decide upon the metrics jointly.
The next step is to determine our starting point – “where are we now in relation to what we want?” This means that collectively we determine our strengths, weaknesses, issues, data, resources, etc. in relation to those outcomes that we developed.
Now that we know where we are, where we are going, and what could change in the future environment, we address the question “what do we need to do to get to our outcomes?” This is the most difficult part because we can’t do everything – we don’t have the time, money or energy. We have to be strategic and select the activities that will best move us in the direction of our desired outcomes.
At the Haines Centre we use the Systems Thinking Approach® for all our work – planning, implementing plans, managing change, coaching, creating training courses and designing meetings.
Learn more about Systems Thinking by reading: Systems Thinking Rides to the Rescue, Yearly Strategic Management Cycle - not sexy but delivers superior results, Cat, the plague and unintended consequences and Everything you wanted to know about Systems Thinking but were afraid to ask
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