April 20, 2016
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5 Tips for Staying Strategically Svelte

In this business, “strategic thinking” is a given. OF COURSE you’re thinking strategically—literally everything depends on it. However even if your day is rife with decisions, plans and processes steeped in strategy, it can be easy to fall into autopilot mode, simply executing deliverables and crossing tasks off the list.

Keeping your strategic muscles in tip-top shape isn’t something that happens automatically; it takes focused, purposeful practice to push your mind to new places and to continually strengthen your strategic chops. Here are 5 things to keep in mind during your next challenge that can actually make you a better strategic thinker.

1. Stay Hungry

Consume everything you can, any time you can. Never stop learning, and never feel like you know all there is to know. Explore different news outlets, hit the streets for some immersive learning, talk with your consumers or experts in the field—anything to keep you growing. The more info you can stuff into your brain, the more connections you will be able to make, and the stronger your strategies will be because of it.

2. Tell a Story

We get it—facts are undeniable. But regardless of how many stats, examples or proof points you have, they won’t mean much to your audience without being tied to a compelling story. Take time to write down everything that you know, then string the points together into a story that logically builds on itself. If there are gaps, fill them in; if there are extraneous details, cut them out. The best strategies have an airtight story that leads to an undeniable conclusion.

3. No Slacking

We know you know how to do a project, but shortcuts should never be allowed. Always do the process the right way, even though it’s usually longer and more involved. Not only will marching through the steps ensure the project remains on track, but it also allows the opportunity to discover and illuminate the intricacies that can make a good strategy great.

4. Think Big—and Small

For most businesses, strategy is mainly focused on the long game—aiming for something on the distant horizon. But while it’s important to crystalize that future vision, it’s equally important to make sure that all of the itty-bitty steps leading up to it are just as fully formed. The mental aerobics of bouncing from big picture to minor nuance will help keep your mind sharp, plus you’ll ensure that all the right pieces are in place, and the right target is set.

5. Rock the Boat

It’s easy (and frankly, makes sense) to keep your eyes locked on your project’s forward trajectory. But every once in a while, you have to glance back at where you’ve been. Kick the tires; make sure all the assets you’ve put into place still support and make sense with your strategic vision. All should be good… but if it’s not—don’t be afraid to speak up! It’s uncomfortable and can even slow things down a bit, but correcting the supporting details that have strayed will all lead to a stronger strategic output in the end.

If you’re ready to work out the other side of your brain, check out these 5 Tips for Keeping Your Creativity in Shape via the blog for Seed’s digital magazine, The Fire Theft Project.

Angela Jones is a Creative Director at Seed Strategy where she engages readers with concise copy that captures the pure essence of ideas.

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