Saturday, July 27, 2019
What is Strategic Thinking?
Strategic thinking is defined as a mental or thinking process applied by an individual in the context of achieving a goal or set of goals in a game or other endeavor. As a cognitive activity, it produces thought.
When applied in an organizational strategic management process, strategic thinking involves the generation and application of unique business insights and opportunities intended to create competitive advantage for a firm or organization. It can be done individually, as well as collaboratively among key people who can positively alter an organization's future. Group strategic thinking may create more value by enabling a proactive and creative dialogue, where individuals gain other people's perspectives on critical and complex issues. This is regarded as a benefit in highly competitive and fast-changing business landscapes.
Strategic thinking includes finding and developing a strategic foresight capacity for an organization, by exploring all possible organizational futures, and challenging conventional thinking to foster decision making today. Recent strategic thought points ever more clearly towards the conclusion that the critical strategic question is not the conventional "What?", but "Why?" or "How?". The work of Henry Mintzberg and other authors, further support the conclusion; and also draw a clear distinction between strategic thinking and strategic planning, another important strategic management thought process.
General Andre Beaufre wrote in 1963 that strategic thinking "is a mental process, at once abstract and rational, which must be capable of synthesizing both psychological and material data. The strategist must have a great capacity for both analysis and synthesis; analysis is necessary to assemble the data on which he makes his diagnosis, synthesis in order to produce from these data the diagnosis itself—and the diagnosis in fact amounts to a choice between alternative courses of action."
There is no generally accepted definition for strategic thinking, no common agreement as to its role or importance, and no standardised list of key competencies of strategic thinkers. There is also no consensus on whether strategic thinking is an uncommon ideal or a common and observable property of strategy. Most agree that traditional models of strategy making, which are primarily based on strategic planning, are not working. Strategy in today's competitive business landscape is moving away from the basic ‘strategic planning’ to more of ‘strategic thinking’ in order to remain competitive.
However, both thought processes must work hand-in-hand in order to reap maximum benefit. It has been argued that the real heart of strategy is the 'strategist'; and for a better strategy execution requires a strategic thinker who can discover novel, imaginative strategies which can re-write the rules of the competitive game; and set in motion the chain of events that will shape and "define the future".
There are many tools and techniques to promote and discipline strategic thinking. The flowchart to the right provides a process for classifying a phenomenon as a scenario in the intuitive logics tradition, and how it differs from a number of other planning approaches.