Strategic Coach: The Thinking Tool Culture

Dan Sullivan
Hero image

Why are tools important? Everything you build in life requires tools. Even language is a tool. And one of the reasons to become proficient at using language is that it gives you the tools for thinking and communication. If you don't have the tools, you can’t really operate in the world.

Expressing emotional responses.

More and more, people lack the language to express their emotional responses. When they try, it comes across in an unsatisfactory way. These people are trapped by their emotions because they don’t have the language to think about things or to communicate in such a way that someone else could suggest solutions to their problems. All anyone else is able to do is respond to their emotions.

But the more you understand how language works, the more you know how to communicate in a way that gets across the point of what you’re expressing, and the more your vocabulary supports you.

No clear idea.

What I came across when I became an entrepreneur is that a lot of the language that was used to describe entrepreneurial life—how you plan meetings, how you put projects together, and so on—is actually bureaucratic. It all came from business schools that were based on preparing people for corporate life or for large organizations. It didn't really relate to entrepreneurs’ motivations, what they do, or what keeps them going.

There are a lot of small businesses, and there's a reason why they're small. It's because they've never truly comprehended what entrepreneurship really is. They knew they had a dislike of working for someone else and wanted to escape from that, but they didn't actually have a clear idea about what they could achieve to make the whole exercise of being an entrepreneur worthwhile.

New entrepreneurial language.

In any situation, you can gain clarity using thinking tools. It can be as simple as structuring a series of thoughts on a piece of paper. At Strategic Coach, we’re coming up on our 35th anniversary as a company, and we have roughly 250 thinking tools. And every quarter, we create a few more.

New thinking tools address new things that are happening now to entrepreneurs where there isn't yet a structure for thinking about it.

Creating a pattern.

Every quarter, I'm communicating with about 400 entrepreneurs. They bring up questions and answers, and I listen. I recognize areas that are unclear for everybody and resolve to create a structure for it. I create a new tool, I test it out, and I improve it if need be.

Once it’s tried and tested, both by me and by our 16 associate coaches, we give it a good name, copyright and trademark it, and then create a pattern out of it. It can then be used by countless entrepreneurs to give them a strategic advantage and help them navigate all the dangers and opportunities that arise.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can create a thinking tool culture in your own organization, download my book Everyone And Everything Grows.