Does it sometimes feel like you are spending the majority of your time solving problems and putting out fires instead of looking at the big picture and devoting yourself to strategic planning? It is a common predicament for managers, and it can often be difficult to set aside time for critical thinking and innovation when 100 other more time-sensitive issues are vying for your attention.
For the long-term success of your organization, however, it is crucial that you make it a priority to dig deeper than just the day-to-day tasks and short-term goals. Where do you want the organization to be in a year or several years? What is your road map for getting there? What people and skills do you need to support you? Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions that are pivotal to your progress.
3 Reasons for Critical Thinking and Innovation
1. Operating in emergency mode doesn’t help you grow.
Surviving and thriving are two very different things. When you are focused only on the immediate future — getting through this upcoming board meeting, finishing this round of performance reviews, sending off this direct mailing — you can easily get tunnel vision and lose sight of the overarching strategic plan. Delegate the pressing issues that other people are capable of managing, and free up some of your time to focus on the bigger picture. Plan the direction you are heading so you don’t get off track.
2. Time invested now can prevent future problems.
If you allow yourself to take an honest look at the past and present of your organization, you can start to identify patterns and anticipate potential changes and problems in the future. Use critical thinking and innovation to determine how to act, not just how to react. Instead of being taken off-guard and having to rely on emergency planning further down the road, you can be proactive about change management and have solutions already in place.
3. It is helpful for both management and employees.
When leaders are too busy to focus on strategic planning, everyone in the organization suffers. You may feel guilty passing responsibility for an immediate project onto someone else, but if it gives you the opportunity to focus on necessary long-term goals, it is a worthwhile exchange.
Why do you make time for critical thinking and innovation in your job? Share your reasons in the comments.
Learn more about EDSI’s change management resources.