Critical Thinking: Your Strategy's Secret Sauce
Discover how to supercharge your team's performance by fostering critical thinking skills for successful strategy development and execution
📊 DELIVER: Driving Results
In this week's edition, we're diving into the high-octane world of critical thinking skills and their impact on strategy development and execution. You'll learn why these skills are essential for supercharging your team's strategic capabilities, and we'll provide you with six easy-to-implement principles to foster critical thinking within your team.
Imagine your organization as a high-performance race car, speeding down the track toward the finish line. In this scenario, your strategy is the car's engine, driving you forward toward success. But what's the fuel that powers this engine? Enter: critical thinking skills. Just like high-octane fuel optimizes your car's performance, developing critical thinking skills is essential for enhancing your strategy development and execution.
The primacy of execution
A.G. Lafley, the renowned Procter & Gamble CEO, has often remarked that (paraphrasing), "the only strategy your customer or competitor ever sees in the marketplace is what you execute." While his statement is compelling, it's also important to consider other evidence that highlights the importance of not only developing a solid strategy but executing it effectively as well. Critical thinking skills act as a catalyst that enables you to navigate the twists and turns of the competitive landscape.
So, why are critical thinking skills so vital to your strategy? Let's break it down:
Challenging Assumptions: Critical thinkers are unafraid to question the status quo and challenge conventional wisdom. Bringing clarity and rigor to discussions, ensuring your strategy is built on a foundation of solid reasoning and evidence.
Crafting and Co-creating Creative Solutions: By unearthing hidden gems (critical thinking skills help you dig deeper, uncovering insights that others may miss) and/or connecting the dots (critical thinkers excel at pattern recognition, enabling them to see connections between seemingly unrelated factors), critical thinking skills empower you to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to challenges.
Premortem Uncertainty: In today's ever-changing business landscape, critical thinking is your compass, helping you adapt and make informed decisions when facing ambiguity. As I’ve mentioned multiple times, if you’re not in the habit of regularly premorteming your strategies, plans, projects, etc. — regardless of what they are intended to drive — you are working against yourself. I.e., you can’t control the future, but you can prepare for it.
Driving Results: Critical thinking contributes to more effective strategy execution because it can be integrated into various methodologies, such as agile or strategic business planning, to enhance their effectiveness and drive tangible outcomes.
Critical Thinking Tips from a Red Teaming Expert
To foster critical thinking skills within your team, I asked my good friend, RTT expert, and fellow transformation firebrand Marcus Dimbleby to help lay out a few easy-to-implement principles:
Provide Training: Invest in training and resources that help your team members develop and hone their critical thinking skills.
Encourage Curiosity: Promote a culture of inquiry and curiosity, where team members are encouraged to ask questions and explore new ideas.
Embrace Diversity: Cultivating diverse perspectives and experiences within your team, as differing viewpoints can spark innovative thinking and lead to more robust strategies.
Practice Reflection: Encourage self-reflection and introspection, helping your team members recognize their own biases and assumptions, and learn from past experiences.
Foster Open Dialogue: Create an environment where open communication and constructive feedback are valued, enabling team members to challenge and learn from one another's ideas and perspectives.
Provide Training: This is worth repeating. While human capital plays a significant role in growth, it's essential to acknowledge that other factors, such as technological innovation or market conditions, also contribute. That said, investing in your team's development should remain a priority. You can’t cut your way to growth, and I believe that human capital is the lynchpin of growth.
By prioritizing the development of critical thinking skills within your team, you'll be cultivating a powerful precursor to successful strategy development and execution. Remember, though, that critical thinking is just one piece of the puzzle – other factors, such as effective leadership, market conditions, and resource availability, also contribute to an organization's success.
Like a race car zooming toward the finish line, your organization can navigate the competitive landscape with agility, precision, and speed, leaving your rivals in the rearview mirror. So, buckle up, rev your critical thinking powered strategic engine, and let it propel you and your team toward success and enduring growth.
ACTION: What is one area you can invest in today that will upskill or unlock your team’s critical thinking capabilities? What can you put in place tomorrow to interrogate whether your strategy (near or long) is working? What evidence can you produce?
Critical Thinking is critical. However it is something people can't get at the supermarket
Can you elaborate how do you improve people's Critical Thinking skills?
Thank you for sharing