Remember when you started your career and parents, advisors or mentors provided the advice ‘pay yourself first’. They were telling you not be distracted by shiny objects and to look forward.

Did you listen? Probably not!

Strategic thinking is a business owners ‘pay yourself first’. Putting out fires, handling that long-time customer that always asks for you helps you feel in control. But, isn’t that why you hired a staff?

A recent article by John Campanelli of Crain’s Cleveland Business, “A creative thinking brainstorm” provided great insights into how many business owners make time for strategic thinking. But, I felt something was missing.

Have you ever tried to write an article, promotional piece or even a book? You pulled out a piece of paper or more likely your laptop and sat their staring at the blinking cursor. What do you write?

The same goes for strategic thinking. What is a strategic thought? Where do you start? Find ideas?

In David Deutch’s 2006 book, ‘Think Inside the Box’ a process was provided to develop the next ‘better idea’ for your business, product or service. He provided 15 ways to look at your question differently.

I won’t go into all 15 ‘idea generators’, but here are a couple examples:

  1. Add a New Dimension

For your product, can you add sight, sound, touch or movement? For your service, can you add or change the order or emphasize differently?

  1. Convert Into a Benefit

Can you turn a negative into a positive or exaggerate a benefit?

  1. Do the Opposite

Can you flip or reverse what your product or service provides? Is there a new market for this?

Strategic thinking isn’t about looking back, but looking forward and to the sides. Don’t just look at your competitors or customers, but at markets outside your industry. What are others doing successfully and how can your business take advantage?

Copyright 2015 Andy Birol All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: Wade M Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)