How To Become A Strategic Thinker
What is Strategic Thinking?
Strategic thinking simply refers to a deliberate and rational thought process that examines the critical factors and variables that will affect the long-term success or failure of a company, team, or individual.
Strategic thinking is the careful and deliberate anticipation and exploitation of vulnerabilities and threats to protect against, and opportunities to pursue. Strategic thinking and analysis ultimately lead to a set of goals, plans and new ideas that will allow you to thrive in a changing, competitive environment. This type of thinking must take into account economic realities, market forces, as well as available resources.
How do you develop the Critical Thinker?
What can companies do to combat the tunnel vision and overconfidence that so many decision makers have? First, identify basic trends and uncertainties. Then use them to create a range of future scenarios.
Exposure to many “cases” can speed up the development of strategic thinking. Then, reflect on these experiences to learn from the lessons. Practice scenario-based decision-making provides a safe environment in which people can experiment and gain insight into cause and effect relationships through the analysis of what-if scenarios. Individuals can also “wind it back” to try different scenarios, if they fail. This is in contrast to the real world, where decisions are more uncertain and have a higher probability of failure. They might learn the following skills:
Critical Skill #1 – Strategic thinkers are able to use both the right (logical) side of their brains. This skill is not easy to master and requires confidence. However, it can prove extremely valuable.
Critical Skill #2: They are able to create a clear and focused personal or business vision. They can think with a strategic purpose and create a visioning process. Both skills are complementary and they can combine them.
Critical Skills #4: They are able to incorporate flexibility into their plans, by setting benchmarks that allow them to measure progress. They use these benchmarks as a guide to help them recognise opportunities to modify their plans. They are able to anticipate and be proactive, as opposed to reacting to changes that occur.
Critical Skill #5: They are extremely aware and perceptive. They can recognise subtle clues from both the outside and inside to guide their future direction and help them realise potential opportunities for themselves and their organisations. Strategic thinkers who are great listeners and comprehend what is being said will also read and analyse everything they can to gain valuable and strategic information. Because they are so perceptive and aware, strategic thinkers often experience those “Ah Ha” moments while on vacation, walking or sitting, or other activities.
Critical Skill #6: They are lifelong learners who learn from every experience. They draw on their experience to help them think more strategically.
Strategic thinking is about generating new, imaginative strategies that can change the rules of competition. This allows you to envision futures that are different from the present. Strategic thinking involves innovative and creative ideas to create business strategies that are more likely to succeed and have greater competitive advantage.
Because thinking is different to planning, it requires a special skill set to think strategically. This includes things like opening up, seeing other options, problem-solving, leading and creating. Activities such as brainstorming, mediating and scenario planning, feasibility studies, root cause analysis, and other tools are all necessary to be a strategic thinker. All of these seem to be right-brain activities.
Benefits of Strategic Thinking:
Strategic thinking is a key element in the management philosophy of business owners. They often become more strategic thinkers over time. They are able to spot subtle changes in their business environment that could have an impact on their revenue, which they may not have noticed before. Furthermore, they are able to predict how their competitors will react to the strategies that they have implemented. Furthermore, they learn to see the business from their customers’ perspective and develop strategies that enable them to reach new customers more effectively. A business owner can make better decisions by using strategic thinking.
Although strategic thinking can be time-consuming, it is beneficial for all involved. You will have a clearer idea of your goals and objectives and a plan to achieve them. This can help your employees to be more productive, which will lead to greater business success.