Read the following questions and quickly answer each one with the first reactionary response that comes to you after reading the question.
- What is your favorite color?
- Name a piece of furniture.
- Name a flower.
- Pick a number from one to four.
- Name an animal in a zoo.
Compare your responses to the answers at the bottom of this article. Were you surprised? Most people answer some of the questions, if not all of them, with the same answers.
Some human behaviors, attitudes, and reactions are predictable. This is just one simple, and fun, example of how people, and their trends and patterns, can alert you of strategic opportunities, as well as signal possible dangers or concerns. Strategic opportunities exist all around us and people are often a valuable source of information and data. Capitalizing on these opportunities sometimes requires a more attuned strategic awareness.
Truly strategic thinkers have insight and foresight about the future environment. Often, these people aren’t born with the natural gift of enhanced strategic awareness. Rather, strategic awareness is something that you must focus on and consciously develop with time. When you are more alert and attentive to what is happening in the business world around you, you are more prepared to gather and analyze the information you are receiving. This allows you to utilize the information more effectively and to make conclusions about what would be a valuable strategic target.
Developing strategic awareness doesn’t just happen through reading books or trying hard. It occurs as a result of specific activities that will increase your awareness and understanding of your customers and the environment around you. The following list includes some helpful tips and activities to help you minimize “short term” thinking and move away from your routine activity trap.
- Notice anomalies or changing conditions around you.
- Ask questions of your customers, partners, and stakeholders.
- Consider what is occurring directly around you, as well as in the national or global environment.
- Understand what is happening in related industries.
- Continually monitor interesting trends or reoccurring data.
- Consider what isn’t working, for you, your team, and your organization.
- Respond rapidly to valuable data. Don’t let opportunities pass you by.
- Evaluate the intelligence you gather with an open mind and without preconceived judgments.
- Take an innovative approach to evaluating the information. Ask new questions. Look at it from a different view point. Connect ideas and create innovation verges.
- Be prepared to take risks.
- Be aware of your competitors (what products they offer and how customers see them).
Developing and enhancing your strategic awareness will help to take the guesswork out of strategy creation, thus opening up enormous advantages for you, your team, and your organization. Being more alert and attentive to the business world you operate in will enable you to incorporate factual and timely information into a valuable strategy that will help the organization achieve its vision and mission.
Answers: Red, chair, rose, three, lion.