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Can't See the Forest for the Trees or Trying Too Hard?

 By Melissa Elias, InfoWorks

As I learn from the people I look up to in business, I’m always reminded to “step back”. I’m told, “You are not seeing it clearly, you are too involved”, so there we have the saying “can’t see the forest for the trees”.

So what is big picture thinking? Strategic Management? How do I be strategic? I often dig through my toolbox of business tools to try and find the right strategic tool to use…but wait, I’m trying too hard. So is it a tool, is it formulated from historical business literature, or is it my common sense drawn from years of experience and the right leaders to guide me?

In Strategic Management: Competiveness and Globalisation (2011), Hanson et al describe strategic management as “an integrated and coordinated set of commitments and actions designed to exploit core competencies and gain a competitive advantage”. Sounds scary and hard! Perhaps no?

Whether it’s a conversation with mentors, a performance discussion in the workplace or admiring the words from inspirational business leaders, there are always these common points I take on the topic of strategy:

  • Listen more than you speak
  • Be less “I” focused and influence the other person that your idea is great – let the other person feel like they came up with that idea
  • Be prepared, you’re in for all or none, so know what you’re talking about. Go hard, or go home
  • Believe in what you are doing and be sure that the proposal is unique and can’t be easily replicated, yet will deliver a needed benefit to the organisation
  • The idea needs to translate into actions that will provide outcomes aligned to the organisational objectives
  • Deepen the relationship with the people who will be key in supporting the proposal
  • Finally, rightly so, don’t get too involved, let the relationships you develop and the influential people float the proposal around and you take a step back.

Underlying the point about believing in your own proposal, and drilling that down a little further, some old fashion gut instinct and common sense does prevail.

So can anyone be strategic? Perhaps so, by less predicting the future, creating your own and letting go at the right time, one may just be able to make change and be a leader in their own right. Sit back, see the forest and don’t try so hard to only see the trees.

Melissa Elias is a business professional with 10 years of experience in financial services operations and retail business banking. Her core focus has been in business process outsourcing (offshore) and process excellence.  InfoWorks® International offers expert training and consulting for project management, problem solving, consulting skills,  negotiating, and other key business competencies. InfoWorks has offered corporate training and consulting around the world for more than 20 years.

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4 comments to Can’t See the Forest for the Trees or Trying Too Hard?

  • Hanson et.al. had no clue about what makes a business tick. They too were looking at the inside and when they looked outside they looked at the competition. Who did they completely ignore like Michael Porter with his ‘competitive adavantage’? THE CUSTOMER. Who else did the ignore? Their own EMPLOYEES!

    You can’t be too inolved with your customers and they worst case is to take a step back. A manager and executive who is not willing to meet customers and understand their needs is utterly inept! Get closer!

    • shelley

      Max,
      Thanks for your alternative opinion to the guest blog. I do not know the work of Hanson, but did not read the blog in the same way you did. Sounds like for me, there are 2 parts what the referenced author said and then the comments in the blog – which are not necessarily all connected.

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