6 Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Strategic Thinking Muscles

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For small business owners, the busy track of entrepreneurialism often railroads the daily thought process, providing little time for growth and strategic thinking. In fact, only 4-7% of leaders are considered strategic thinkers, according to The Persimmon Group and Center for Creative Leadership.

The conventional ways of “how we’ve always done it” make a business sluggish. In order to push past the day-to-day minutia to project your business—and protect your business—for the future, apply a regime of regularly practiced strategic thinking.

1. Reflect on “Wasted” Time (Daily)

Wasted time are the moments not being spent productively—or even pleasurably. Like jumping from one task to another, being irritated by things you can’t control, or experiencing avoidable consequences due to a lack of strategic thinking.

At the end of each day, reflect on what can be done differently to avoid unproductive, costly time.

2. Consider Egocentrism (Daily)

Personal bias and egocentrism keep you from seeing beyond self-favor. Yikes!

Spend time in the morning while planning your day to consider how your bias and/or perspective might be getting in the way of achieving your goals.

What would a rational person with no emotional bias do in your situation?

3. Solve a Problem (Daily)

Make traffic work for you. Use your drive time for reflection and/or problem-solving. Focus on a problem with a solution rather than waste time (See #1) thinking about things beyond your control.

Consider your options for action in the short-term and long-term, as well as recognize realistic limitations of time, money, and influence.

4. Focus on Intellectual Standards (Weekly)

The Universal Intellectual Standards defined by the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Model (Paul and Elder, 2001) include:

  • Clarity
  • Precision
  • Accuracy
  • Relevance
  • Depth
  • Breadth
  • Logical
  • Significance
  • Fairness
  • Sufficiency

Select a weekly focus to improve your habits in each one of these areas. For instance, during accuracy week, consider glitches, typos, missteps, and do-overs. Ask questions related to your accuracy, such as, “Did I spell check?” or “Am I communicating instructions clearly for the reader?” Include reading on the subject to move you outside of your understanding of the subject.

5. Select an Intellectual Trait to Internalize (Monthly)

The Universal Intellectual Traits according to the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework include:

  • Humility
  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Autonomy
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Reason
  • Fair-Mindedness

In order to hone your professional character, focus on excelling in one trait each month. For instance, during your courage month, consider how you might push beyond your comfort zone to accomplish a truly amazing and inspiring feat.

6. Analyze Business Influences (Quarterly)

Who—or what—motivates and inspires your actions? Look around you. What traits do you admire in others? Carefully select who—and what—you emulate. Become your own brand of entrepreneur.

Just like business branding, personal character and skills need constant refinement. By exercising these strategic thinking muscles, you are better prepared to address problems—and recognize opportunities—quickly and effectively.


Are you ready to strengthen your strategic thinking muscles? We’re here for you.

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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