What’s the difference between “strategic thinking” versus plain thinking? For many of our daily decisions, just a little normal brainwork can solve many of our daily needs. However, when we begin to realize that there are some decisions made that yield better results or increase the productivity of our own efforts or those of others, we begin to recognize that a little more exercising of the “gray matter” can result in better results.
Following are 5 approaches for EPC Teams to think more strategically:
Many within the engineering and construction field have a certain level of interest in the odd issues or new challenges. Rather than run from such items they view them as opportunities to learn. In many ways they almost anticipate new opportunities daily and relish the learning that almost always delivers.
To facilitate your inquisitive side of thinking:
- Don’t say “No” too early. Be patient and “let the game come to you.”
- Look outside the norm when you are considering actions or needed decisions. Test tradition.
- Be open to new information or technology, which might just be a game changer for your future.
Think “outside the box”
Traditions are fine and can be helpful. However, strategic thinking forces you to not rely solely on the past. You might have heard the old expression, “If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you always got!”
To facilitate “outside the box” thinking:
- When challenges and problems do arise, don’t seek the “band-aid” first. Work hard to truly understand the root cause to an opportunity.
- Give yourself, and your team members, permission to question the status quo and the “what we’ve always done around here” thinking.
- When decisions are made too quickly, ask “Why?” one more time to flush out any straggling ideas or suggestions that others, including you, might not have been quick enough to serve up.
Seek to understand before being understood
It is critical to strategic thinking that one gathers input and insights from others, especially those who might be considered “different” or “out there.” Those “out there” thinkers can offer up some juicy insights that just might be what you need.
To facilitate seeking what others might be thinking:
- Promote a work culture that says it’s ok to offer an off-the-wall idea or piece of information.
- Rather than looking for that perfect answer move your understanding to looking for similar “trends” in thoughts, results or experiences to help validate what someone might be sharing with you.
- Be the first to question the status quo. Set the example for testing the many ideas or suggestions to see what one item might hold the most water in regard to truth, accuracy and consistency.
Commit to timelines and make “Decision-day” happen
Those working in EPC Teams must think, strategically, and plan. But in the end they must be willing to commit and “launch” their best laid plans and make “Decision-Day” happen or adhere to timelines.
To facilitate your commitment to make the final “D-Day” happen:
- Put in place the steps needed to support your decision. Normally, the bigger the decision, the greater number of action steps.
- Truly assess and weigh your “intel” about the who, what, where, when and why.
- Realize that “time is money” and move forward. Certainly don’t make a blind and uninformed decision, but remember: you’ll never have 100% of the helpful information anyway.
- Remember that “speed” is still the name of the game for contractors. Reacting faster is actually enhancing the more regular updates and accurate intelligence you can maintain.
Create a never-ending learning culture
The more you accept the fact that you do not know everything in the world, and the more you empower yourself to think out loud, the sooner you will create a work environment that has employees enjoy what they do and appreciating you! Gather as much outside-the-company knowledge as you can muster. Growing your company, keeping the doors open for a critical exchange of
exchange of ideas and solutions is key to being successful.
To facilitate the “never-ending learning culture”:
- Ask for input and don’t criticize brainstormed ideas…ever!
- When you are wrong, admit it quickly
- When your team “wins” be sure to party with those who contributed
- Survey your entire company annually and ask for ideas and solutions to old issues and new challenges.
Build team consensus from the bottom up
Often team consensus begins at the top and then permeates down into the rank and file. WRONG! Real team consensus can begin with any idea from any level of your company, but you always need to grow the consensus from those who are going to execute the decision or strategy up the chain of command. The more buy-in you get at the lower levels of the company the more likely that a 100% effort will be exerted and commitment will run till the last breath is taken.
To facilitate building your team consensus:
- Clearly recognize “what’s in for me” (WIIFM) thinking and acknowledge the important needs of others.
- Tough decisions require serious discussions. Risk differences of opinions but always steer the building toward a positive end result.
- Don’t dodge any topic, issue or idea. Trust the team to hammer out their differences.
- Teach your team members, at all levels, to argue constructively, without throwing tools at one another.
Strategic thinking requires more energy, focus and staying power. Prevent egos — especially the “old traditional” brains on your team and the “young college kids” who have never constructed before — from getting in the way of sound strategic thinking. We need everyone to realize and live the culture that when we work together great things happen.
Thinking does take time; strategic thinking requires discipline in your thinking process. So get out of your shells and think strategically. Remember, if you will set the example and prepare the table for greater thinking, you will become a more strategic thinker while you create an entirely new culture of better thinkers.
Look for greater results and profits by raising your strategically leveraged thinkers in your company!