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Build (and survive) a strategic team

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Why do you need to build a strategic team? Whether you are the CEO, a manager or even the new guy, starting to think of your team under a strategic lens will help to increase your own and your team’s effectiveness and efficacy.

Be it to build a competitive advantage, to answer a research question or gain a better political stand, whenever there is a challenge, a strategic approach is the best answer. 

But how can you define a strategic approach? Which characteristics do you need to bring out in yourself and in your team?

This is a broad question, with a lot of answers, but creativity and the ability to understand the ecosystem – market, political landscape, and so on – are essential. To stand out between the competition, innovation and new solutions are the main necessary ingredient. 

What is it that creates innovation, though? In many cases, it is a different approach or a new way of looking at a challenge. In turn, the way you look at – and tackle – your challenge is part of your strategic style. More points of view mean more potential strategies and more chances to find the winning one. That’s why you need to build a strategic team.

So, how can you bring in this variety of perspectives? Finding one answer may be a bit simplistic, but for sure one of the answers is to have diversity within your team
Such diversity will also help you to work effectively on the Kernel of your Strategy.

The Kernel of Strategy

To explain this concept, we lean on the book Good Strategy Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt, professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. With decades of experience in the field, he shows no pity for all the wrong definitions of strategy that you can find on- and offline. 

Vision, mission, values and what he calls “template style strategy”… All concepts often associated with strategy that, according to Rumelt, haven’t much to do with it. 

What is Strategy, then?

Starting with the basics, he identifies the Kernel of Strategy as the sum of three parts:

  • a diagnosis: an analysis of the specific situation at hand, that simplifies the complexities of reality and pinpoints its critical aspects;
  • a guiding policy: a general direction and goal that can help make decisions in difficult or ambiguous circumstances;
  • a set of coherent actions: a list of coordinated to-do’s that work together to accomplish the guiding policy.

The missing link

How can you connect the “diversity within your team” that we were talking about before to the “Kernel of Strategy”? If you build a strategic team, you can ace your strategy.

If you look again at the three elements of the kernel, you might notice that for each of them you need very specific traits. Traits that often clash with each other.

In order to make a useful diagnosis, for example, you want to have strong analytical skills. You need to be able to divide the whole into parts. See what works and what doesn’t. Understand which ones are the most critical factors to make a change, and so on.

To develop an inspiring and effective guiding policy, you need creativity. You must be able to come up with many ideas, to exploit concepts from different fields. You need to take charge of the situation, to start on a different path (remember Einstein’s idea of insanity: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”). 

Finally, to create a set of coherent actions, you must be able to translate a vision into concrete steps to follow. You need to create procedures, and a control system to track results.

See where we are going?

Variety is key, to create a strategic team.

Now, the trick is to find and understand one specific trait of your cognitive profile and of your team members. Luckily, it’s an easy one to identify: the Functions of Government from Sternberg’s Theory.

First off, if you have no idea of what the Cognitive Profile and Sternberg’s Theory are, have a look at the article we published on the topic

If you then want to learn more about the different elements that shape your Cognitive Profile, you can read about Global and Analytical learners and about Intuitive and Systematic learners.

Functions of Government

In the video, Giulia Remondino, author of Genius by Choice and MD of Genius in  21 Days UK, will guide you through the different Functions of Government and through how they relate to cognitive profiles. 

How they can help you make your team more strategic is pretty straightforward: it’s a matter of assigning the right tasks to the right people.

If you read our articles, though, you will understand that there are many aspects that define your cognitive profile as well as your learning profile. Understanding your – and your team’s – function of government will help a lot, but getting a clear picture of your whole cognitive profile will carry you much further.

How? Global and Analytical learners have different ways to see and approach concepts. Intuitive and Systematic learners need different processes to assimilate information. Your Mental Self-Government plays an essential role in how you structure your learning and working method.

Actually, each combination of characteristics needs a personalised and tailored approach.

At Genius in 21 Dayswe work with you to 

  • understand your cognitive profile 
  • implement strategies to exploit it best
  • help you to integrate the best of your, and other, cognitive styles into your approach

Watch the video to find out more about legislative, executive and judicial people, and to get some tips that can help you deal with them in your team.
Enjoy, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive more tips on how to excel at work, exams, and languages!

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Nathan Gonsalves-Williams
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I started the course with a great deal of doubt, and this is probably one of the greatest things I learned from the course. That doubt was one of the main things holding me back. The course is an amazing eye-opener to the sheer volume of information you can learn and is also a demonstration to how easy it is for you and everyone else, by what you learn to do over the first weekend. After the course my reading speed increased by 4 times, I am now able to communicate in Spanish and I am using mind maps to prepare a quite difficult exam. I now know that I can learn a language quickly, increase my reading speed and have valuable techniques for exams and memory, all it takes now is consistency and practice which is really the true challenge.