“Strategic” is a word that gets bounced around a lot and is often linked with either “planning” or “thinking”, but the terms have very different meanings. Strategic planning (analysis) tries to predict and plan for the future, while strategic thinking (synthesis) creates a framework for adapting to challenges.
In our industry, the largest consequence you could face for not thinking strategically would be falling behind; behind on market trends, budget spending, and areas that are expanding which would not allow us to be active in those markets once they flourish. Strategic thinking matters because it means you are being proactive, not reactive in your processes. You have taken the time to plan ahead rather than respond after the fact.
In this field, thinking strategically means you understand the entire build process from start to finish. And this is where experienced staff is necessary. For us, experienced strategic thinkers know which materials are needed and which staffs are right for the job. Planning the operations ahead of time, with staff that know the entire construction scope, means you can avoid potential costly mistakes later.
Aquicon’s Strategic Thinking Processes
There are specific techniques and processes we use to ensure our leaders are thinking strategically and understanding market trends. We are always checking that our staff has the experience to enter certain markets prior to the growth in those markets. I recall several years ago when the change was made in the secondary education system and grade 13 was removed. We knew that spending in the post secondary market would flourish so in an attempt to mitigate the affects of this change, we focused on creating relationships with post secondary institutions through the staff that had experience in these markets. Now, 3 years later, this is why we currently have 6 active projects in this market.
Another example is COR, the ‘Certificate of Recognition’ program through the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations. We knew it would be a matter of time before this program would be adopted province wide so once again, we ensured we had a team in place that knew the market and could drive projects for the company.
Success In Strategic Thinking
To be successful as a strategic thinker you need to not only know your industry, but also be aware and perceptive. You have to recognize internal and external clues in order to realize opportunities for your company or organization. I believe the biggest and most challenging attributes of a strategic thinker are to be patient and not rush to conclusions. Thoughts require time to develop into great successes. Taking the time and considering all angles of the framework at the beginning is what separates strategic thinkers from thoughtless thinkers.
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