I see many business people conditioned to take what another individual asks or tells them at face value, accepting it as an order to fulfill.

That's natural, I suppose.

Someone tells you they want something done, and maybe most of us are pre-conditioned to attempt to make it happen. That used to be me ALL the time. It's still me SOME of the time.

5 Strategic Thinking Questions to Stop Undermining Your Success

Alternatively, when someone tells you what they want - whether it's a boss, an associate, or a customer doing the telling - don't immediately accept the comment as an order.

Instead, consider what the individual asked for as a suggestion.

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With that perspective, reconnect with the granddaddy of all strategic thinking questions: What are we trying to achieve?

Grounded in recalling what YOU want to achieve, ask yourself various strategic thinking questions to consider potential responses to the suggestion:

  • What other possibilities are broader or narrower that benefit the requester and enhance what we are trying to achieve?
  • What are other approaches that could add value for everyone involved?
  • How can we mock up something as an example to demonstrate the value of alternative approaches?
  • If delivering as requested isn't the best situation for us, what can we suggest to complement the situation and increase the benefit for us?
  • If your first round of possibilities doesn't resonate with the requester, what second round of ideas can you generate as possibilities?

When you run through these strategic thinking questions, you'll be much better positioned to respond with ideas for mutually-advantageous alternatives instead of simply doing everything as ordered. – Mike Brown

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