How To Develop the Ability to Think Strategically

healthcare management

What is strategical thinking?
A key leadership requirement.

Strategic thinking is an individual thinking activity that benefits organizations. Its purpose is to discover competitive strategies to position the organization significantly differently from the present.

Experiences contributing to the development of strategic thinking in order of importance according to a survey in individuals who attended ten educational events sponsored by the American College of healthcare Executives (ACHE) in various U.S. cities.

  • Participating in organizational strategic planning was the most important experience contributing to the development of strategic thinking.
  • Starting a major organizational project. This experience involves a complex project that lasts one year or more and affords the executive significant freedom to act on his own. This kind of experience was more likely among CEO’s with 20 or more years of work experience.
  • Monitoring performance indicators. The monitoring of results and benchmarking were important for the development of strategical thinking according to those interviewed. CEO respondents were more likely to have this experience compared to non-CEO’s
  • Being challenged by a trusted colleague. Being challenged on a one to one basis by a trusted colleague can provide new ideas and perspectives.
  • Relationships with colleagues outside the organization. Experiences includes learning from colleagues outside the organization who fill similar roles and who stay in contact more frequently than annually. It also includes learning from practices in other industries. Seems like fun to me and to broaden your views and perspectives.
  • Having a career mentor. Mostly needed early in a career and frequently in the beginning, weekly to monthly. More than two thirds had career mentors.
  • Handling a substantial threat to organizational survival. This experience was not frequently acquired. Compared to the other experiences (70%) this experience was only rated by 30% of the respondents. This was usually issues of control and issues that have material or financial impact
  • Serving as CEO of an organization. This was also an experience not frequently reported, only 30% of respondents had this kind of experience. Nevertheless, becoming a CEO at early age probably has a positive effect on work experience and developing strategic thinking.

Why is this important?
If you want to become a health care manager you will need experiences for building strategic thinking. Being a CEO can benefit this development but when not available in the organization this could be accommodated by serving on boards of other companies. Not only experience is important, a mentor early in the career with frequent contact also seems to help. Last but not least teaching programs of other industries as well as cross industry learning is of importance. This last advice is important because health care management is of insular nature.
Goldman E, Cahill T, & Filho RP (2009). Experiences that develop the ability to think strategically. Journal of healthcare management / American College of Healthcare Executives, 54 (6) PMID: 20073185