Strategic Thinking in Tough Times


What are your choices in this economy? Has this economy got your attention? Has it put a dent in your sales and your income? Want to discover what to do about it in order to put your business back on top to make this year your best ever? Or perhaps branch out! Over the years, you’ve put long hours into building your business and now, the economy, the credit markets and a whole bunch of stuff beyond your control have put a wrench in your plans. What can you do about it? The first thing to realize is that you have a choice.

The reason most businesses lose in a recession like the one we’re experiencing is that they use the same marketing strategies they used when the economy was in a boom cycle. That’s like wearing your summer sandals with their smooth soles in winter while trying to walk across snow and ice. It won’t work, and you’re likely to fall and hurt yourself. To succeed in this economy, you need proven marketing strategies that reliably generate leads, sales and higher profits. Without them, you could lose your profits and your business. The Quality of Thoughtfulness The ability to think and plan strategically is perhaps the most important single skill of the effective executive. In a longitudinal study of leaders who, in retrospect, made the best and most effective decisions, the single quality that stood out from all others was the quality of “thoughtfulness.” Thoughtfulness may be defined as a careful concern for the secondary consequences of each decision and each action. This is the essence of strategic thinking. Your Most Powerful Tool The most powerful tool that you as an executive have to bring to bear on your work is your mind – your thinking ability. Everything you do that sharpens and hones your ability to think with greater clarity before acting, will benefit you and help you to move upward and onward more rapidly in your career or business.

Use a Two Pronged Approach The best way to approach strategic thinking is two pronged. This means to work simultaneously on the personal and the corporate. Increase Your “Return on Energy” In personal terms, strategic planning is an exercise in increasing “return on energy.” Your greatest single asset is your earning ability. And your earning ability is nothing more than the total of the mental, emotional and physical energies that you can apply toward getting valuable results for yourself and your company. Anything that you can do to increase your return on energy invested will increase your overall levels of effectiveness and contribution in every area of your life, especially, and most importantly in your work. Action Exercises Here are two things you can do immediately to increase your return on equity and your return on energy. First, think about everything that you are doing in terms of its financial return to your organization. What are the things that you do that yield the highest return on equity? Whatever they are, do more of them. Second, think in personal terms about the things you do that give you the highest return on energy. Where do you contribute the greatest value and achieve the greatest satisfaction? Whatever they are, do more of these things.