I recently picked up “Being Strategic: Plan for success, Out-think your competitors and Stay ahead of change” by Erika Andersen, a book my parents had lying around the house. I’m not generally one for self-help type books, but I had some free time and I could use a little professional guidance to strategically plan for my future, so I went to Starbucks and opened it up. In this post, I will outline Erika’s approach to helping professionals be strategic as interpreted by me.
First, we need to define “strategic.” According to Andersen, “Being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.” Okay, now we can begin.
1. Determine the “what is.”
Erika writes that this is where you explore your current situation and how it came to be. Think of this as Point A, your starting point. Look at every factor: location, professional title, past experience, education, ect.
2. Set your goal(s).
In order to be strategic, you have to ask yourself, “What is my hoped-for future?” Then, of course, you have to answer it. Make sure your goals are “clearly defined. realistic and aspirational,” says Erika. Once you’ve figured out your hopes and dreams (no pressure.), you can start the journey.
3. Evaluate what is in your way.
We all face obstacles. No path to success is smooth. This is where you need to take an objective look at what could be blocking your path from “what is” to your hoped-for future. It is at this point that you need to become a “Fair Witness,” requiring you to observe and report without much interpretation.
Think of the difference between the two statements: “This sweater is too small for me,” which is a statement of fact, and “I look horrible and fat in this tight sweater,” which is an interpretation.
4. Map out your path.
Now, that you have all the necessary information, you can make a path to navigate your way to your hoped-for future. Make sure to plan for the obstacles your foresee, and that every step consistently takes you toward your hoped-for future.
This step has two prongs: select your strategies and then, select your tactics. Erika uses the metaphor of building a castle. You have to design the castle and then you have to decide how you are going to build it.
Need some help with your “What is?” Take Erika’s quiz: Are you strategic? After that, I really recommend checking out the book, which has worksheets within that will help with your strategic plan. Additionally, there are great anecdotes to help with things like conflict resolution and working as a team.