When looking at building a clear understanding of the current state of a business, product and organization it is important to gain the fullest picture possible. Three to five year strategic plans, development plans, marketing and sales plans do not form out of thin air. The effort to gather, review and discuss what is known, learned and discovered is a building block to new thinking, alignment of resources and results.
Within organizations the leaders can push the team to make strategic thinking either in a vacuum or with little pre-thinking. Push back due to pressures from above or the market can create an environment where people agree just to get moving (in any direction) or with limited data. The act of research and gathering can be quickly done. Allowing the leaders the space and time to interact is very important. This allows a fuller picture, vision of the mission, goals and desired out comes to take shape.
When I think of this “development time” I remember learning at the Disney Institute about how Walt Disney took the time and effort to bring all his key animators together one evening. He set the stage by giving each money to go grab a good dinner and come back to the studio. He set up stools in a circle, turned off all the surrounding lights and turned up the lights on the circle in the middle. As the animator teams came back he had them sit quitely until every one was there. Disney then when into telling the story of Snow White, with him acting out all the roles and voices. The team was riveted. By the end they could almost see what Disney was describing and acting out. He then shared his vision of the first full length animated movie.
Strategic thinking comes in many forms and ways. Give it the time it deserves and needs to take shape.