Recently I wrote about the qualities that make a great creative strategist (empathy, curiosity and perseverance if you didn’t see that post). I thought it would also be helpful to talk about how to nurture those qualities, which is what this post is all about.
There are many ways to improve your strategic skillset. There are plenty of books available, courses to take and data tools to master, and all of these are undoubtedly helpful. However, given that being a great strategist is primarily about how you think, I’ve found the most useful weapons in my strategic arsenal lie beyond the obvious.
I studied literature at university and I’ve had a book on the go at all times since I was about 6 years old, and I firmly believe that constantly reading fiction makes me a better strategist.
Reading fiction increases our empathy and helps us to do the most important thing a strategist can do: understand other people by putting us in their shoes. Reading fiction can be a brilliant way to delve into other cultures, learn about history and get a better feel for other places.
Literature is also vital to strategists as we are, along with our creative partners, storytellers. Whilst we don’t have a full novel to tell our story, we can learn so much from all the brilliant authors in the world. Finally, literature improves our ability to express ourselves and our ideas and helps us continually expand our voice.
2. Learn another language (or two)
Ok, so this one is admittedly less accessible than reading fiction, but languages have been a huge part of my life and my development as a strategist so it would be dishonest not to include them.
I’ll start by saying this: you don’t need to become fluent to benefit from starting to learn another language. Whilst I undoubtedly benefited from studying French and Spanish to an advanced level, I gained a great deal learning basic German and Japanese.
Learning other languages helps me as a strategist in various ways. It reminds me of the power of the spoken and written word to shape how we think and perceive the world, and that people who speak different languages can perceive the world in very different ways because of this. It opens my mind to different forms of expression and storytelling, as it frees you from the syntax and grammar of your ‘mother’ tongue. It is often the best way to truly understand cultural differences and national mindsets, and of course it means that when you travel you can actually get to know people.
If you’ve never learnt a language before, start by watching some foreign films to get a feel for the different sounds and if you’re feeling bold, download an app like DuoLingo and go for it!
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to strategy, but if we constantly strive to learn, read and explore, we can at least create a great strategic mindset. If you’re interested in discussing strategy further, please get in touch. We’re nerds and we’re always happy to talk.