The Strategic Thinkers And Specialist Thinkers Approach

Different people see things in different ways. They may be strategic thinkers, specialists or strategic thinkers within their specialism. They may also take different approaches when working to achieve success.

Strategic thinkers can sometimes find it challenging to manage the contributions of specialists. Some experts may focus on their own aims rather than the organisation’s goals.

Some people may, of course, combine elements of both approaches. Some may be strategic thinkers who are also specialists and, as mentioned earlier, some may be strategic thinkers within their specialism.

Strategic thinkers and specialists operate differently, however, and there are both pluses and minuses attached to each role. Let’s explore these themes.

Strategic Thinkers

Strategic thinkers aim to gather information, see the big picture and focus on the results to achieve. They are good at recognising patterns and also  seeing how things are connected.

They keep focusing on the big picture when making decisions. Bearing in mind what they can control in the situation, they clarify the short, medium and long-term goals.

Strategic thinkers use their own favourite models for making decisions. One common factor, however, is that they clarify the real What – the real results to achieve – before moving to the How.

They may also be good at lateral thinking – rather than just linear thinking – when clarifying the possible ways to reach the goal. They then translate these ideas into a clear action plan.

Strategic thinkers focus on the outcomes to achieve. They may then use the What, Why, How, Who and When approach clarify the ways forward. Some explore the following themes.

Strategic thinkers often communicate the big picture to their people. They describe the What, Why and How. They then focus on the Who and When and give people the opportunity to make their best contributions. 

Some leaders have good coordinators who can orchestrate people’s contributions towards achieving the goals. This also involves ensuring people proactively keep others informed their progress.

They recognise that there can be challenges. One that can arise is specialists and their teams focusing on their own aims rather than the organisation’s strategic goal.

Strategic thinkers therefore keep reminding people of the organisation’s goal. They then encourage people to contribute their part and also help others to work towards the picture of success.

Strategic thinkers can find there are both pluses and minuses in the role. Let’s explore some of these themes.

The pluses can include the following. They are able to see the big picture, focus on what they can control, shape things, set the strategy, make key decisions, build superb teams and do their best to achieve the picture of success.

The minuses can include the following. They can feel alone, find there are key factors beyond their control, demanding stakeholders such as investors, being impatient with people who focus on their own agendas rather than the big goals.

Strategic leaders may also need to find ways to coordinate the strengths of specialist thinkers. Let’s explore the characteristics of people who may contribute in this way.

Specialist Thinkers

Specialist thinkers are often experts in their chosen field. They have deep knowledge and are loyal to the values of their craft. They often have strong beliefs about what is important in their area of expertise.

Such workers clarify the specific goals to achieve in their area. They may then cocoon themselves so they can do deep work and be free from any distractions.

Specialists then apply their expertise: a) to concentrate fully on the tasks to be completed; b) to perform these in their own way; c) to deliver high quality standards when working towards their goals.  

Specialists love to dive deep into their work. They then follow their chosen processes and aim to uphold the values of their profession.

Such workers have many strengths and can make superb contributions to achieving an organisation’s goals. They can become wrapped in their own world, however, and be seen as linear thinkers. This can create challenges for colleagues in other parts of the organisation.

Specialists may find there are both pluses and minuses in the role. Let’s explore some of these themes.

The pluses can include the following. They are subject matter experts, love their area of expertise, concentrate fully, set specific goals, perform tasks, do superb work, keep learning and get satisfaction from achieving their chosen goals.

The minuses can include the following. They can become isolated, focus on their own aims, forget the organisation’s goal, be protective of their own processes, fail to see colleagues in the organisation as their internal customers and sometimes feel unappreciated.

Strategic thinkers need specialists who provide expertise that can help the organisation to achieve its goals. They can do this by encouraging them but also ensuring they align their contributions to helping the organisation achieve success.

We will explore this topic later. Before then, however, let’s look at another type of contributor.

Strategic Thinkers
Within Their Specialism

Some people are strategic thinkers within their specialism but not in other areas. They are good at gathering information, seeing patterns and making decisions in their chosen field.

They may take this approach when focusing on biology, technical data or another areas of expertise. They then pursue the key strategies most likely to deliver the desired results.

Specialists may not apply such strategic thinking to other areas. This may be because: a) they are not interested or feel they cannot make a difference in that area; b) they simply want to focus on the things that they feel are important;

Strategic thinkers can aim to encourage specialists to make their best contributions towards achieving the organisation’s goals. Different leaders do this in different ways. One approach is to go through the following steps.

Strategic Thinkers Can Make Clear
Contracts With Specialist Thinkers

Clear contracting is crucial in any professional relationship. This is especially so with specialists. Let’s consider one approach to making this happen.

Good leaders create a positive culture in which motivated people can achieve peak performance. They often start by explaining the big picture of people. Different leaders do this in different ways. Whichever method they use, however, they often explain the following themes.

The What

The specific goal we want to achieve – the picture of success – is …

The Why

The specific benefits – for the organisation, colleagues and customers – of achieving the goals will be …

The How

The key strategies we aim to follow to achieve the goals are …

The Who

The various roles that people will play – including the professional standards they will need to demonstrate – on the road towards achieving the goals are …

The When

The specific things that must be delivered and by when on the road towards achieving the goals are …

Strategic leaders invite people to reflect and decide if they want to help to achieve the goals. If so, they make clear contracts with people about their contributions towards achieving the picture of success.

One approach is to invite individuals to do the following exercise. Bearing in mind the organisation’s goals and their own strengths, this invites them to describe and then agree with their manager on the following things.

Strategic thinkers often aim to give their people context and explain the strategies for achieving the organisation’s aims. They can then coordinate people’s contributions towards achieving the goals.

Sometimes this calls for understanding the difference between strategic thinkers and specialist thinkers. This can help to align people’s efforts for achieving the picture of success.

Let’s return to your own work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you may want to follow elements of the strategic thinking and specialist thinking approaches? How can you do this in your own way?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>