How you can think strategically

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- There is old story about Sir Christopher Wren, the noted British architect. When touring the construction of his architectural masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, he came across three tradesmen. The first claimed he was merely cutting stone. The second stressed that he was making five shillings per day. And, the last, insightfully, said that he was helping build a great cathedral.

This historical anecdote is powerful: it reminds us that we all have the ability to think strategically. However, the reality is that many of us see things narrowly through the filter of our own experiences, priorities and perspectives. It is easy to challenge ourselves to be strategic thinkers, but much harder to make the transformation into one. So, how do we become strategic Airmen? Here, I offer some helpful guidelines for developing our strategic thinking skills:

Think Big - We are all part of something larger than ourselves. Even small decisions have the ability in a strategic sense to impact mission accomplishment. We all need to know the missions and visions of the Air Force, Air Force Space Command and the 45th Space Wing. It is always important to ask ourselves the hard question: Will my action benefit or further the mission? If not, you should re-vector.

The Core Values Barometer - Our Air Force Core Values are timeless and enduring. We should never take any action that is not wholly consistent with those values. Whenever you are contemplating taking action, ask yourself, does this honor our Air Force Core values? If not, you should not be taking that action.

The Airmen's Creed - Our Airmen's Creed beautifully describes all that Airmen should aspire to be. We should all embrace the Airmen's Creed and it should serve as a bulwark against which our actions are judged. If we make decisions that honor the Airmen's Creed, we are being strategic by definition.

Being Bold - Strategic thinkers are bold by nature. Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO21) empowers all of us to maximize value, minimize waste, and to ask the probing strategic question, why are we doing this? AFSO21 reminds us that strategic thinkers are needed at every level of the Air Force.

Our Air Force was created of strategic genius. To be effective in tomorrow's Air Force, everyone needs to be a strategic Airman. By doing that, we will consistently see how important we all are to our Air Force.