Growth doesn’t happen by accident. To achieve sustainable, profitable growth, organizations must become disciplined at working “on” the business, not just “in” it. The secret to business performance is developing the right habit of strategic thinking. This is one of the key principles in the Rhythm of Work that has helped thousands of companies over the last two decades.
That’s the core message of Chapter 1 of the bestselling book Rhythm: How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth by Patrick Thean. This chapter introduces the power of implementing a regular “Think Rhythm” as the engine behind strategic growth.
Why Growth Requires a Think Rhythm
It’s easy for leadership teams to get trapped solely operating in the day-to-day of their business. While they strive to satisfy customers and hit quarterly goals, they fail to carve out time for strategic thinking. There’s always a crisis demanding attention or a fire to put out.
Paradoxically, you can’t grow without stepping back periodically to think about the bigger picture. As author Patrick Thean puts it:
“We would like to think that success happens overnight, that winning moves appear overnight, but they don’t. The lesson we can learn from AvidXchange is that it takes the habit of spending time—on a regular and consistent basis—working on and refining your strategy to create success.”
What is a Think Rhythm?
A Think Rhythm consists of building in dedicated time for strategic thinking at multiple intervals:
- Annual and Quarterly 2-Day Strategic Planning Sessions: Leadership teams must “leave the building” and dedicate two full days to step back from day-to-day operations every year and quarter. Here, they can reflect on their vision and growth strategies.
- Annual Planning Best Practices and Agenda
- Quarterly Planning Best Practices and Agenda
- Weekly Think Time: Leaders also need to build habits of strategic discussion into weekly management meetings or standing alignment sessions. This ensures growth initiatives don’t stagnate between quarterly sessions.
- Companies need to establish this consistent Think Rhythm to maintain focus. They may pursue disjointed, reactive initiatives that need to add up to a coherent growth strategy. Distractions proliferate across different departments. Leaders find themselves constantly firefighting instead of advancing well-defined strategic priorities.
What Does Your Think Rhythm Focus On?
According to Thean, your Think Rhythm should focus on two areas:
1. Business Foundational Strategy
Every year, take time to review and sharpen the core elements of your strategy, including:
- Core Purpose – Why do you exist? What problem do you solve?
- Core Values – What principles guide your decisions and culture?
- BHAG – Your Big Hairy Audacious Goal for the Next Ten Years.
- Core Customer – Who is the ideal buyer persona for your offering?
Getting clarity on these elements ensures strategic alignment across the organization. With that foundation, growth initiatives can be more cohesive.
2. Winning Moves: 3-5 Year Growth Strategies
The second focus area is developing your “winning moves” – the 1-3 big bets that will drive the bulk of your growth over the next 3-5 years.
Winning moves have two characteristics:
- High revenue impact – The potential to double your revenue in 3-5 years.
- Leverage existing assets – They rely on capabilities, infrastructure, and resources you already have.
Your Think Rhythm provides dedicated time to brainstorm, assess, and pressure-test winning moves. This ensures you maintain a pipeline of innovative growth strategies versus trying to create them overnight when growth stalls magically.
Questions to Uncover Your Next Winning Moves
Thean suggests asking yourself these questions to uncover potential winning moves:
- What customer needs could we address that competitors won’t due to difficulty?
- What imperfect solutions are customers tolerating that we could fix?
- What existing assets or advantages could we leverage into new offerings?
Analyzing through these lenses may reveal opportunities sitting hidden in plain sight.
Prioritizing Your Winning Moves
Once you’ve brainstormed candidate-winning moves, you need a process to rank them objectively. Thean recommends assessing each potential activity on two dimensions:
- Revenue Impact – How much could this move increase revenue over the next 3-5 years? Rate 1-10.
- Ease of Implementation – How easily could we deploy this with current assets and capabilities? Rate 1-10.
Plotting the moves on a matrix of Revenue Impact vs. Ease of Implementation makes it easy to visualize which actions have the optimal blend of high impact with low complexity. Focus resources on those first.
Key Takeaways on Winning Moves
The key lesson from this chapter is that growth stems from regularly scheduled strategic thinking, not one-off annual retreats or offsites. Building the Think Rhythm habit is crucial to staying focused on the future and having a continuous pipeline of innovative growth moves.
Organizations need it to become reactive and evolve their offerings, business models, and sources of competitive advantage over time. Establishing Think Rhythms insulates leaders from the tyranny of the urgent and provides the space needed to craft and refine deliberate, high-impact growth strategies.
That’s just a high-level summary of Chapter 1 of Rhythm by Patrick Thean. You can download the book summary by clicking the button below. Or you can drop us a line; we’d be happy to discuss how we can work together.
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