Using Strategic Thinking

There is lots of buzz about “strategy” from strategic planning to strategic objectives but strategic thinking, ehs leadership, ehs consultant in south floridahaving a strategic though pattern can assist an EHS professional in ensuring effectiveness.      Strategic thinking was the title of one of the sessions I attended at the American Society for Safety Engineers (ASSE) Leadership Symposium.  The session was given by Trish Ennis and focused on how leaders in the EHS industry can think more strategically although her discussion points can be applied to leaders in any industry.  She suggested the following as benefits of thinking strategically:

  • Saves time & effort
  • Makes the most of limited resources
  • Attracts funding
  • Gets people on board
  • Enhances chances of success
  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Simplifies the difficult
  • Prompts one to ask that right questions
  • Promotes customization
In addition to presenting the benefits Ms. Ennis talked to tips on thinking strategically.
She focused on the approach of zooming in or zooming out–knowing when to take a big picture view of an issue or alternatively when to get down to the details.   She also highlighted the importance of being able to use both views simultaneously which gives different perspectives that can change our interaction with others and give us the aforementioned benefits.  She presented two case studies that assisted in identifying practicals ways to implement strategic thinking.  The first case study was on Cynthia Carol of Anglo America, from an article that I reviewed in an earlier post entitled Are Radical Changes Required to Implement An Effective Safety Culture? 
  The second case study, of which I was unfamiliar, discussed Paul O’Neill the former CEO of Alcoa.  Both focused on safety programs that were failing–Anglo America with a number of fatalities, Alcoa with poor quality and employee dissatisfaction.  Thinking strategically forced both companies to make hard decisions which ultimately lead to a turn around in their programs.  Anglo America saw a marked decrease in fatalities and Alcoa reduced injuries and improved quality.  Additional keys to thinking strategically emphasized by Ennis were:
  • Breaking down the issues
  • Asking WHY before HOW
  • Identifying the real issue or objective
  • Reviewing the resources 

Do you have other keys to assist with thinking strategically?  Join the conversation and leave a comment below.


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