The topic of improving one’s craft came up during a conversation I had with Albuquerque guitar great Lewis Winn. Lewis described an inward-looking process of continually evaluating musical tendencies while continually seeking inspiration from others. The process Lewis described of self-evaluation and constant improvement is surprisingly similar to the internal and external evaluation processes that are key components of strategic management.
Most strategy courses and texts are built upon two broad principles: (1) Strategic organizations proactively seek to identify and improve upon their weaknesses through constant self-evaluation and reflection. (2) They additionally stay in touch with the world around them to establish important linkages, as well as to identify potential opportunities. While intended to be applied at the group or organizational level these two principles can be extremely valuable at the individual level.
We all have weaknesses. For some it is quantitative ability, for others it may be public speaking. Harnessing one’s inner strategist involves active and honest self-assessment to identify weaknesses and develop strategies to turn these weaknesses into strengths. While working to identify and improve upon individual weaknesses is seemingly a daunting task, Anderson students have the ideal opportunity to do just that. Finance courses are exceptional at developing quantitative skills; marketing courses and strategy courses are effective at developing analytic thinking; accounting courses help instill discipline and organization. In addition, dozens of courses at Anderson have components focusing on writing, public speaking, creativity, as well as numerous other important skills.
Simply attending the great courses offered at Anderson is not enough. Proactivity is a key element of strategic organizations. Students can harness their inner strategists by engaging proactively in their courses and focusing on how the material and assignments covered in their courses can help improve weaknesses and/or enhance their strengths. Going beyond course materials with additional reading and research or even taking advantage of the various writing and math tutoring resources at UNM and Anderson are certainly ways to instill a proactive strategic approach address one’s weaknesses.
Harnessing one’s inner strategist additionally involves staying in tune with and engaging the outside world. Recognizing the key events and trends that occur at the local, national and global level is certainly a start; however engagement is a must. Seeking out opportunities to establish ties with community and academic organizations, as well as professional associations, is extremely important. The value of active engagement is immeasurable. The information and relationships achieved through external engagement can be catalysts to opportunities that would otherwise not be available.
Individual improvement and external engagement are lifetime endeavors. Sadly, many professionals neglect the activities needed to sustain such endeavors. Begin harnessing your inner strategist at Anderson to build the foundation for lifetime personal development and external engagement.
David Cavazos (PhD, Texas Tech University) is Assistant Professor of Management at the Anderson School of Management. David’s research interests include firm self-regulation, firm reputation, industry regulation, and new venture growth. His research has recently appeared in the Academy of Management Learning and Education, Journal of Business Research and Technology Analysis and Strategic Management. David teaches Strategic Management and Public Relations at Anderson.