We can take a lesson from Christopher Columbus’ practice of recording notes, observations, and ideas in a personal journal. Biographer Eugene Lyons closely studied Columbus’ journals, concluding that,
“The notes reveal his struggle to measure, comprehend, and master the secrets of the earth.”
In 2014, I started the practice a daily strategic thinking lab book (I prefer the term lab book over journal simply because I was trained in the sciences and it seems a little more evidence based). Although I have not been diligent on making daily part, it has been a great tool in my struggle to measure, comprehend, and master the secrets of strategic thinking. I make notes of observations stemming from conversations or patterns. I include reflections on my emerging theories and frameworks. I add to it notes from research.
Here are a few of the things I’ve noted in my lab book:
- Interesting conversations and personal anecdotes that help me recall specific strategic issues and context.
- People that I want to contact, or stay in contact with, that will help me in my strategic thinking journey.
- Books that I would like to read. That’s served as a good reminder when I’m in a bookstore or online.
- I can see that I’ve been struggling a long time to characterize operational thinking, which is the opposite of strategic thinking. I can tell you that the struggle is less now than when I started. Similarly, I can see that I’ve had an evolution of my thinking about the nature of conceptual mapping.
- Definitions of some new words that I’ve learned. (Consilience or corruscating anyone?)
- For me, a breakthrough idea was that strategic thinking is a “macro capability” composed of microskills. I found my first attempt to list those microskills.
- I have insights on strategic thinking scattered throughout, and I need to delve deeper into the significance of those insights.
Overall the book reminds me of the importance of perspective as a quality of strategic thinking. Perspective is defined as personality plus point of view. Because of the lab book, I have a much better understanding of my own strategic thinking perspective.
I’m positive that the lab book will become a powerful tool for your learning journey. What additional suggestions and questions might you have?