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Two Rungs Above: How strategic planning is a key to get ahead and impress the boss

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I once heard some advice from a lieutenant colonel: Think two rungs above.


This is what that means. What are the people thinking about two management levels higher up ?


If you’re a young lieutenant, you take orders from a Captain. They take orders from a Major.


So, if you are a lieutenant, what is the Major worried about?


If you can make that your preoccupation, you understand how to do your own job better. You can also work in closer partnership with your Captain (so to speak) and help the two of you.


I guess it’s a form of constructive empathy.


Two Rungs in the Business World


The same ‘two rungs up’ applies in the business world.


As a result, you might find the strategic planning process beneficial. Even if you’re not in a senior managerial position.

Strategic Thinking Rewards the Person Doing it


It earns respect

For a junior person, having a good understanding of the strategic situation and options is a good way to earn the respect of the head honcho.


It gives you a good understanding of the big picture

With some strategic research, you can speak intelligently about broader factors affecting your organisation. That can also enable you to find gaps in the assumptions of a business.


You can find new potential directions.

There are few things sweeter as an employee than finding a sweet unexplored place where your company could make a lot of money.


It helps you pinpoint exploitable flaws in your competition.

All competition has flaws. Using a methodical approach, you can find the weaknesses, which shows you the opportunity.

For example, a weakness can be used as an angle of attack.

Bunnings hardware is large with aisles and aisles of confusing items. Most people are not very handy and need help.

When you need it, there’s no one to be seen.

Mitre Ten Hardware exploited this and positioned the smaller size on getting real help.

McDonald’s was fast and standardised. But they never (until recently) offered any customisations.

You want a junior burger, you get it with the pickle.

Countless competitors made it a key differentiator to provide ‘made to order’.

These are big, obvious examples hut the same is true for all businesses.

Competitor research always reveals a weakness.


It demonstrates you are serious about the longevity and health of the company.

Bosses like to trust their people. Looking beyond your small work function can indicate you are in it for the long-haul. It demonstrates loyalty.


You can share the vision and passion of the CEO.

Looking at the big picture, and ways of moving on the chessboard, indicates a strong work ethic and sense of commitment.

When you see the frustrating blocks and find pockets of opportunity, you get to feel the boss’s spark of energy. This gives you meaningful things to talk about at the kitchen sink.

Your passion can energise others.


In summary

Few people step into the heady world of strategy formation, but it’s a thrilling place to be.

In a safe sandpit, you get a feel of the broader market from the perspective of the Chief Operator (the big kahuna).

That helps you make the smaller decisions you need to make each day.

And it shows you are a thinker, committed, and have a knowledgeable opinion that counts.

You might even save or help make a ton of money.



For help, Big Picture Strategy is now available on Amazon ebook

Big Picture Strategy is still available as a PDF Manual with downloadable templates for $16

  • Image by <a href=”;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=5661842″>Gerhard G.</a> from <a href=”;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=5661842″>Pixabay</a>
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