In today’s world with change the only constant, we need to consistently strategize in order to increase effectiveness and position ourselves for the future. But how can leaders coach their staff to regularly think out of the box, when the traditional request is to dig-in and become more specialized?
The good news is that smarter, comprehensive thinking can be developed through coaching, and the use of a new leadership lens that supports situational analytical thinking. When confronting complex or novel situations leaders need to shift their thinking from providing answers, to asking questions. An excellent tool is employing a checklist.
A checklist may sound elementary but by using one a manager, in any profession, can easily master six organizational arenas without a long learning curve. Hardly rocket science, it is just the practice of collecting and weighing information before jumping into a decision.
Here are some questions to help uncover critical information while stimulating analytical thinking.
To stimulate innovation:
• If there were no constraints, what could we do?
• What is the ideal product or service?
To enhance customer focus and market position:
• What will help our current and potential customer base?
• What actions are critical now to position us for success in the marketplace?
To ensure system excellence and sustainability:
• What is the best organization structure for smooth operations?
• What systems can be improved for improved alignment?
To build quality and financial return:
• How can we improve our processes and quality?
• What will improve our return on investment?
To create a high performing and highly talented culture:
• Are we developing our talent/bench strength to match our strategy?
• Do we have a change-ready culture?
To position the firm for continued success in the future:
• What emerging customer expectations and trends need to be addressed?
• Are we using strategic thinking and management across the organization?
Coaching others to use a checklist to balance competing needs starts with information and ends with balanced choices. Effective thinking offers lasting impact for a person’s career and organization’s success. We must think out of the box to stay agile and relevant.
Dr. Mary Lippitt is founder of Enterprise Management Limited. Her award winning book, Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity outlines a new results oriented approach to leadership. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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