7 Keys to Balancing Strategic Thinking with the Day-to-Day Operations of Your Team, Business, or Organization

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

One of the strategies I wrote about in the post, Creating Movement in Your Team, Business, or Organization: 3 Steps in 3 Minutes was creating balance in your workflow in order to balance strategic thinking with the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization.

It occurred to me that I’ve used multiple strategies the past three years to accomplish this balance, some have worked well, some not as much. What’s most important, however, is not that some didn’t work, rather, it is important that some did.

Trying new strategies is part of leadership development. Actually, it is development itself. Try something new. If it works, keep it, if not get rid of it.

Well, then, let’s take a look at 7 keys you can use to balance strategy with day-to-day operations. And, if you choose to incorporate one, great. If you already do these things, wonderful. And, if they are new to you, give one or two a try and see what happens.

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7 Keys to Balancing Strategy with Day-to-Day Operations

  1. Persistence – being persistent is an important leadership trait; as is knowing that not everything that you implement will work. It just won’t. There is nothing wrong with that, and you do not get a demerit if something doesn’t work. All that means is that you need to be persistent in your actions to find that process, or system that will work. Stick to it, and you will find it.
  2. Prioritization – we are all inundated with multiple competing priorities. It is very important, however, to get clear on how those competing priorities should be prioritized. Very important. Otherwise, all of your priorities will have the same level of importance, and chances are many of them will not move forward.
  3. Patience – very important to have patience with yourself. When you develop patience with yourself, you will also have more patience with the people on your team, or in your business, or organization. Trust me when I write that patience will win over force any day. Patience is sustainable, force, not so much. Be patient, and give yourself the time you need to breathe.
  4. Determination – when one is determined, they are moving forward, and do not let obstacles stand in their way. Important for every leader everywhere. Why? Because the nature of leadership ensures that obstacles will often present themselves before us. Often. Being resolute and steadfast, while also being flexible in your approach is key. You will be challenged regularly. You will also be drawn to the day-to-day operations. Normal. Yet be steadfast, and determined to incorporate strategy into your daily workflow. It is possible.
  5. Organization – understanding an organizational system that works for you is essential. It does not have to make sense to anyone else. Just you. Important, as people often think that their organization system must be understandable to others. Not so. You need to understand it, period. Also know that how you organize yourself will change as the business changes. It is supposed to.
  6. Time Management – a difficult skill set to develop for me, yet one that I have made progress on in the past few years. What I’ve learned, similar to learning to organize myself, is that there is no one way to manage time effectively. Important to understand. When you understand this, you will actively seek out new ways to manage your time, until you find the system that works for you. And, time management should also change as the business changes. It must.
  7. Vision Clarity – you must be very clear on your vision. If you are not clear, you will continue to do day-to-day tasks that are not moving you closer to achieving the goals associated with your vision. Being clear on your vision, ensures that you are moving your vision forward when you are working on the day-to-day operations. You are then always working on your strategy, even when you are working in the “weeds.”

There we go. 7 keys to creating balance between strategy and the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization. Are there other keys, you ask? Of course. These are simply the ones that I am most present to now.

There are many meaningful ways to balance strategy and day-to-day operations. How many there are matters less, than, as leaders, we try new things, and incorporate new strategies into our workflow often. Be open and flexible to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new ways of being.

Teams, businesses, and organizations change often. And, with change comes the need to be open to changing as the need changes. A must.

If you’ve tried the keys outlined in this post, awesome. If you’ve not tried them all, try a new one, try two. If you already do them all, wonderful, you’re ahead.

If you’re not sure how to incorporate these keys into your workflow, here are a couple of quick suggestions before I close.

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  1. Persistence – continue to try new things. Get your best ideas out, and invite others to collaborate. Your ideas + their ideas =.even better ideas. Continue to persist, you will find the process, system, or vision you are looking for.
  2. Prioritization – how do you prioritize your work? Know that however you prioritize your work today, there are a million other ways to prioritize. If what you are doing is not working, try something new. Remember, as the team, business or organization iterates, the way you prioritize yourself will also have to iterate.
  3. Patience – a big one. Though being persistent and determined are very important. Being patient is equally important. Give yourself the time to breath and think. A must. Schedule the time into your calendar. Make time, and let your team know this is your time to just be. Go for a walk, or just sit. Doesn’t matter. What matters is doing it daily. For a time, I had a recurring appointment on my calendar for myself. It read, breathing. And, I did just that.
  4. Determination – yep, important. Things will happen and “go wrong.” It is the nature of leadership, especially when leading innovative teams, businesses, or organizations. Stay the course. Remember, that “failure” is part and parcel of the creative process. You cannot have breakthroughs without breakdowns. They go together.
  5. Organization – similar to prioritization, trying new organizational strategies is important, and needed. Example – when I started my current job, I organized myself in an “old school” way. File folders, and lots of paper. Then I went completely digital, then back to files, and folders. Now, a combination. Again, what matters is continuing to try new things. When something’s not working, do it differently. You may be surprised how that will open up more thinking space for you.
  6. Time Management – phew, time management is so important today. I am much better at it today; yet I would say the first two years on the job, I really struggled in this area. How did I begin to improve? Continually trying new things; and, asking for help. The department administrative assistant, to this day, goes through my calendar with me, and asks this question – why do you have this meeting? Hm. And, if the meeting on my calendar is not connected to the vision, I cancel it.
  7. Vision Clarity – yep. Once you’ve become skilled in the aforementioned areas, you will have more time to work on strategy. And, once you are clear on your vision, the aforementioned keys will also become easier. Why? Because the clearer you are on the vision, the more you understand the work you really need to be doing. You begin to see other work you’ve been doing in a new light. And, you will begin to let that other work go. If the daily work is not connecting to the vision, let it go.

Alright, we’ve discussed 7 keys to balancing strategy and day-to-day operations; and, we’ve also looked at a few ways you can incorporate these keys into your workflow.

Remember, the most important thing about creating balance in your work, is to always be present to the reality that trying, and doing things in new ways is necessary and needed.

When you are unsure of what to try next, try something new, stand back and see what happens. If it works well, keep it. If not, let it go; and, then, try something else. Whatever you do, keep moving. Be and lead well.

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Creating Movement in Your Team, Business, or Organization: 3 Steps in 3 Minutes

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Photo by Jon Davey on Unsplash

I recently wrote 3 Steps and 9 Keys to Creating Safety on a Team in 5 Minutes, and today, I’m going to focus on creating movement. Have you ever felt stuck? Like you and your team, business, or organization are not moving, have not, maybe, moved in some time. Instead, you find that each day seems the same. A reproduction of the previous? Happens to us all.

Let’s take a look at 3 steps you can take to get moving again.

Step 1: Create Time

We are all inundated with email, all day long. In the first year in my current position, I checked email often; and, there were times when I was more focused on keeping my email in check than doing my actual job. However, email is not the job; it is a tool, nothing more.

3 suggestions for creating time by managing email

  • Check periodically – morning, afternoon, and before close of business. Set this time aside. Add it to your calendar if needed. However, when you are not in your “check email time”, leave it alone.
  • Prioritize the need – sounds funny, yet prioritizing your email is very important. Often, I get emails that I might not respond to for several days. Why? It’s not needed. Not every email needs a response right away, and some never need a response.
  • Organize as needed – in the past three years, I’ve reorganized my email countless times. As the business changes, your calendar will change, and so should how you organize your email. Reorganizing your email so that it mirrors the current iteration of your team, business, or organization will save you the time of searching endlessly for emails to follow up on.
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Step 2: Create Balance

I’ve found that finding time to work on the business (strategic thinking), instead of in the business (the weeds) is one of the hardest skills to develop. Why? Because we live in a reactive society, and work within reactive organizations.

Though you are working very hard, if you continue to work hard mostly on day-to-day operations, you will not spend the time needed on creating future plans, goals, and objectives. You will stay stuck. You must create the time to strategically think about the direction of your team, business, or organization.

3 strategies for balancing the weeds and strategic thinking

  • Manage time – I’ve used multiple different time management systems in the past three years; and, what I’ve come to realize is that continuing to change how you organize yourself is okay, even needed. If the way you are organizing yourself today is not working, let it go, and try something new.
  • Delegate – I’m one of those people who likes to do everything, and I have a hard time asking for help. Yet, letting your team assist you is necessary and needed. Delegating work is always essential, and is even more essential to ensure you have the time you need to create strategy.
  • Slow down – I love to be in action. Simple. Yet, there are times when you need to slow down. Let some of the day-to-day operations wait, so you can just sit and think about your team, business, or organization’s trajectory; and, what you want to create as its next step.
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Step 3: Create Strategy

Once you’ve created more time, and have more balance, you can now effectively work on the business. Very important.

3 strategies for creating strategy and gaining traction

  • Get your ideas out – often we think about what we want to create, yet we are so busy doing other things, that we don’t get these ideas out; and, when our ideas stay within us, we cannot use them. Write them down, put them on a whiteboard, put them in a document. It matters less how you get them out, than it does that you do so, and have the time to reflect upon them.
  • Invite considerations – collaborative teams and organizations talk about strategy. If you are on that kind of team, or in that kind of business or organization, invite people to consider your ideas. What do they think? Incorporate the best ideas into your ideas. If you work on a team, or in a business or organization that does not collaborate, invite people to consider your ideas anyway. Create collaboration.
  • Create an action plan – once your ideas are out, you’ve invited feedback, and have had time to reflect, it’s time to create an action plan. I always work backwards. Meaning, if you are creating a strategy for next year, work those goals backward to each quarter, month, and week, and create objectives that align with the yearly goals.
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With your new action plan, you can begin to create the traction you’ve been looking for. Remember, you are not alone. Most teams and organizations are in the same place. They feel stuck. That you are aware of it, is the first step. Now you can mobilize the steps outlined here, and create movement for your team, business, or organization.

Also remember, that sometimes your team, business, or organization may have to move “backward” to once again move “forward.” I’m not a fan of labeling movement, because all movement is important and needed.

For instance, COVID-19 has created a “backward” momentum for teams, businesses, and organizations all across the globe. Now what matters most? Not being concerned about moving backward. Instead, create from where you are, and you will move forward.

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