In theory, strategic planning sounds great: You gather top thinkers in a room and brainstorm.
But for Jim Estill, former CEO of Synnex Canada and now a partner in a venture capital firm, strategic thinking requires inspiration. He finds that it doesn’t happen on demand, so he lays the groundwork and stays attuned to insights that can arise at any time.
Estill has learned that allotting a dedicated block of time to strategize doesn’t work well. If he declares, “I will spend an hour on strategic thinking and come up with something brilliant,” he usually comes away disappointed.
Estill concludes that most strategizing just isn’t urgent enough. It’s important, sometimes crucial, but that’s not the same as drop-everything urgency.
To find time to strategize effectively, Estill embarks on an ongoing quest for inspiration. He also integrates strategic thinking into his daily duties.
Estill’s three tips to incorporate strategic planning into everyday life:
- Keep researching. When questions pop up, he doesn’t let them drift away unanswered. Instead, he digs for information that helps him establish a baseline of understanding. From there, he’s well positioned to strategize.
- Pick the right frame. Estill devotes about 15 minutes to framing the challenge. This can involve posing a question (“How can we capitalize on the mobility craze?”) that directs his analysis. As he goes about his day, possible answers flash into his head.
- Retain stray ideas. When Estill reads something provocative that relates to his business, he writes it down. Jotting facts, observations and industry trends helps spur his creativity.
— Adapted from “Elevate,” Jim Estill, www.jimestill.com.