Sunday, August 6, 2017

Five Strategic Thinking Principles

Strategic thinking is the wisdom because the strategy is often the guide and roadmap to navigate us toward the right direction.

Strategic thinking is about starting the end in mind. Being able to think strategically is a digital thinking skill that perhaps not everyone has, but it is critical to be future oriented and make a progressive movement. There are definitely people who are more operational than strategic. Statistically, only 5% of the population is nature strategic thinker. Here are five strategic thinking principles.

Start focusing on why the tasks are necessary: Strategic thinking encourages to think about the future via exploring the why factor. When you begin looking at WHYs, benchmarks can be set for the improvement activities of the future. It is the thought process for diagnosing the issues, making choices, and then solving it. You will also drive greater innovation and change since you will find that you have more options available to solve your problems. Strategic thinking involves multiple thinking processes such as spatial thinking and visionary recognition, matrix thinking and interactive connectivity, information analysis and interpretation, and creativity to generate novel ideas. Creative thinking is the way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions. Thus, creativity is the key ingredient in strategic thinking. Strategic Thinking isn’t just about making decisions. It is about getting the best information you can and continuously update. It’s about uncovering all the options, thinking long term, not just the immediate goals.

Strategic thinking is specified as being conceptual, systems-oriented, directional, linking the future with the past and opportunistic: Strategic thinking deals with "discovering novel, rewriting the rules of the competitive game." Strategic Thinkers are the rare ones. They are the evangelists for change and opportunity. It's consciousness or subconsciousness about who you are and what you are doing. From the business management perspective, strategic thinking means change,  you need to explicitly carve out quality time from everyone's busy schedule to take a hard look at external forces, have the meaningful dialog about how these forces are going to impact your business in the future. Strategic thinking is also a part of the critical thinking process referring specifically to the processes of analyzing and making judgments about what has happened and doing predictive analysis on what will happen, and build consensus about what you are going to do about it. Strategic thinkers have reflected on the past, seen/identified patterns and effects and underlying causes of those effects, understand linkages and are able to get to the bottom line - what's most important in terms of where to focus.

Strategic thinking is more about making decisions directly towards achieving defined outcomes as a purposive activity: Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind. Strategic thinking is about why and what you want to achieve in a particular context and the whole configuration of interconnected and continuous interacting components and systems. Strategic thinking is about change, and outcomes are positive changes to a business. Thus, the biggest mind-shift in moving from operational to strategic thinking is switching from focusing on activities and solutions to thinking about outcomes. If you start all of your conversations with the outcome (is our revenue growth, are our customers happy, is our market share increasing, etc.) you will start thinking more strategically.

Strategic thinking is about where you are, where you want to be, identify the gap and create the alternate approaches to anticipate and provide solutions: Strategic Thinking is the ability to think on a temporal plane: where you are, where you want to be, identify gaps, and take alternate approaches to anticipate and provide solutions. It is integrating both reflective thinking and predictive thinking to gain the awareness of surroundings and identify issues, as well as making the choice for zooming into the future. The strategic thinkers keep pondering: How does the action help to compete to win today? And how will this action help to compete and win going forward? If both sides can be filled, and then the choice is a GO. if only one of the two sides can be filled, this action requires a broader discussion because either the action is not aligned with the strategy of the company but worth doing because it is a tactical activity to drive short-term results or just not to be done because it dilutes the equity of the brand the company wants to build. So, strategic thinking it to bridge where you are and where you want to be.

Strategic thinking is the system thinking in the new boxes: Systems Thinking is about understanding the interconnectivity between parts and the whole. Strategic thinking is the system thinking in the new boxes. Systems Thinking is a representation of how we see patterns in life, it is also an emergent property of the basic aspects of nature, layer on layer of systems, each with their own emergent behavior, coming together to create super systems we interact with daily. Strategic thinking is simply openness to finding connections between experiences, people, things, ideas, etc., and making literally or figuratively something new from those insights. A strategic mind is contextual, that awareness of a larger organizational context is valuable, the power of context is in the ways you can change the factors that create a context. The majority of people are comfortable 'thinking' in today versus 'outside the box.'  Still, Strategic thinking is a skill that most can learn; but these things cannot be taught, which explains why so many strategic plans are poorly designed and carried out.

Strategic thinking is the wisdom because the strategy is often the guide and roadmap to navigate us toward the right direction, making decisions directly towards achieving defined outcomes as a purposive activity. Just like all skills, some people have a greater aptitude for it than others.The key is to understand who the strategic thinkers are and provide them the ability to utilize these skills to help in discussing the direction and various options a company can go, create alternative solutions, and think long term and become digital ready.


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