Having a well-rounded team is important in any workplace. While many hard skills are touted as the key to success, often workplaces fail to focus on other so-called “soft skills,” such as strategic thinking. This skill is crucial during the strategic planning phase of any organization but is also one of the most valuable soft skills in management and leadership as well as in daily life.
Unfortunately, strategic thinking is a skill that often gets overlooked in employee-development training. Workplaces need employees who can participate during strategic planning, including to present interesting ideas, plot a course of action, think strategically and logically, develop solutions, be involved in the conversation, and communicate their ideas effectively.
Strategic thinking is one of the most highly sought-after skills in management and leadership positions, but can be difficult to train. This article will walk you through four activities that not only develop your team’s strategic thinking skills, but are also a lot of fun.
What is Strategic Thinking?
Before we dive into how to develop our team’s strategic thinking skills, let’s discuss what strategic thinking actually is. Many academic and business journals have slightly varying definitions of the term. In the business context, strategic thinking is generally thought of as skills that enable a person to use critical thinking to solve complex problems and plan for the future.
It involves a rational thought process that focuses on analyzing different variables and outcomes while considering threats and vulnerabilities concurrently. Strategic thinkers are able to envision the future for an organization, identify its impacts, and find a way to reach a future goal. Skills involved in strategic thinking include analytical thinking, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and planning and management skills.
Employees who have strategic thinking skills or want to improve them will prove invaluable to their organization due to their forward-thinking nature, decisiveness, logical thinking, efficiency, and ability to plan strategically to reach a goal. Yet, training to develop strategic thinking skills is often lacking.
With strategic thinking skills considered paramount for any organization, how can employees develop these skills? So often, employee-development training is boring, outdated, and ineffective. Here are some suggestions for fun activities that will boost your team’s strategic thinking skills.
4 Fun Activities to Boost Strategic Thinking Skills
After participating in fun activities to boost strategic-thinking skills, your team will gain new strengths and experience team building.
1. Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are a fantastic game for your team to develop strategic thinking skills for business and everyday life. They create an interactive environment where team members have to think on their feet, use strategic thinking to solve puzzles, and practice what-if techniques in situations. Players get to reflect on which strategies worked and which didn’t, as well as weigh all risks, pros, and cons of these techniques.
Players get to use all their senses to observe their environment in addition to paying attention to small details and connecting the dots to solve problems. Importantly, escape rooms are a lot of fun and can keep you engaged and focused for long periods of time!
2. Chess Tournament
Chess is an old-school method for developing strategic thinking skills. While it may not seem like a strategic thinking exercise, chess teaches you to think ahead, examine a position on a chessboard, and to plan for your next move and anticipate your opponent’s. Players have to employ tactics to advance their position and consider their adversary’s next move.
Chess teaches structured thinking, planning ahead, and deliberation. You can have chess tournaments with your team members as individual players or create teams so team members can help each other succeed.
3. Scavenger Hunt Bingo
Bingo and scavenger hunts are both much-beloved activities enjoyed by almost everyone. Fortunately, the game of scavenger hunt bingo combines the thrill of chance and smarts into a fun activity for developing strategic thinking. Game designers create a list filled with different tasks and then team members are asked to complete the bingo list.
The game’s purpose is to get team members to work together and engage with each other cooperatively. The game can be adapted to specific outcomes, such as having team members engage with the public, solve a puzzle together, or answer a social media question via real-time video.
4. Classic Egg Drop
While some strategic-thinking games require equipment and different locations, one simple and fun activity is the classic egg drop challenge. All you need is a raw egg, a container such as cardboard, external production materials like a balloon, internal padding, a pen or pencil, paper, and tape. Most of these items are already in the home or office! The egg drop challenge requires participants to build a cage for the uncooked egg, which will hopefully protect it when the egg is dropped from a certain height.
Team members engage in team-building and strategic thinking to protect their eggs. They have to work together to plan, coordinate, and utilize the materials to build the best protection for their egg.
Now that you’ve discovered some fun activities to boost your team’s strategic thinking skills, don’t wait to start developing your employees’ abilities. Your team will be better off for it, plus these activities will bring some fun to the workplace.