What Is Strategic Thinking and How to Develop It

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What Is Strategic Thinking and How to Develop It

What is strategic thinking?

In the same situation, different people can behave differently. Some people cope with difficult problems successfully, but others constantly step on the same rake. Some people build a successful business with almost nothing, while others pass by such an idea, believing it to be unworthy of their attention.

So why are some people able to see, understand and assess trends and prospects, while others are not? That is because some are able to think strategically, while others are not.

A person with strategic thinking has the ability to think systematically, taking into account all the factors and calculating probabilities, for it is not without a reason that the word “strategy” means the art of management in translation from Greek.

Ordinary thinking is quite enough for everyday routine actions. But those who want more from life, the ability to calculate the consequences of their own and others’ actions in advance is simply necessary.

Without strategic thinking, it is impossible to build a successful business, because only strategic thinking helps to make long-term plans, to decide what business to invest in, how to allocate resources and predict the final result.

Calling some people around us sagacious, far-sighted, intuitive, at times prudent, we do not understand that, in general, they have a natural ability to think strategically.

In personal life, inability to see the consequences of your actions and to think ahead leads to the lack of motivation or desire to do something and to the inner slackness.

In teamwork, the lack of strategic thinking leads to the absence of a common goal, inconsistencies, and disagreements.

Without thinking strategically the company’s top managers can miss opportunities, waste resources or money and the company’s overall competitiveness can decrease.

Nevertheless, strategic thinking is not an inborn quality, which means that it can be learned. And the most important teacher is the experience, both personal and professional.

employeeHow to develop the ability to think strategically

  1. Learn to Predict

Before taking any action, we should imagine the further development of events and the final result, which we can get. For example, ask yourself: “What do I want to achieve and what will my actions or words lead to?”.

Preparing for a public presentation, we can not only think through the text carefully but also imagine the questions that the audience can ask. Firstly, this way we can remember what we’re talking about better. Secondly, our answers will be more confident, because we will already have them prepared in advance. In addition, it will be interesting to see later how many of the questions we have “guessed”.

You can develop strategic thinking in your everyday life. For example, you go on a trip and pack our things, thinking ahead and assuming what you need to take in case of bad weather, an illness, losing documents or money.

Of course, you won’t be able to take all the nuances into account, because to some extent you depend on the case. And your attempts to predict should not resemble fortune-telling. You must rely on your life or professional experience, even if it is not very rich yet. It will be quite interesting to compare the results “before” and “after”.

  1. Use Visualisation

Creating mental images and describing them in your mind will help you to learn to see objects, events, projects, etc in details. For example, you say “a tree” and start to imagine it in details: how old it is, how tall, how low its branches are above the ground, what birds are sitting on them, how deep its roots are in the ground, etc. However, a person who can think strategically must see not only the details but the whole picture – the tree – in general.

  1. Think through the backup plans

Trying to predict the course of events, we imagine a plan, according to which we will act. Sometimes it seems that we thought through all the details but the real situation proves all our speculations wrong. There can be unforeseen circumstances which will puzzle us because we have planned another course of actions.

That is why as a training while trying to plan your actions you can suppose several variants of the situation and “rehearse” your behaviour in each case. Let’s call it “the plan B”.

You can recall a difficult conflict which has happened to you before when you have been unsatisfied with your own behaviour and imagine at least 3 ways out of it which would have been less painful for you. In future, if you get into similar circumstances, you will be able to predict the result and choose the best course of actions easily.

  1. Consider past experience – both your own and of other people

Humanity has accumulated the great experience in all spheres of life over the centuries. That is why solving a certain task or a problem, think first if someone has faced the same task or problem before. Basing on the other’s experience, we can predict the course of events and advance significantly without reinventing the wheel when others have been using for ages.

They say successful people are distinguished by the fact that while others think, the successful make and analyze mistakes. For them, mistakes are not mistakes but experience. After they act, they ask themselves: why it didn’t go as I anticipated; what the result will be if I take another course? In such a way, their strategic thinking develops.

  1. Develop logical thinking outside the box

We don’t usually overstrain ourselves in the everyday life making automatic decisions and thinking with stereotypes and that is what differs us from uncommon people with the advanced strategic thinking.  

For example, one well-known TV-series character, looking at sesame buns, thinks like this: “Sesame is brought to America from countries where cicadas will destroy its crop next year. So, if I buy sesame on the current price, I can sell it at a higher price afterward and make good money.” We can say, that this person has strategic thinking because for other people they are just sesame buns.

Certainly, to think in such a way, intuition is not enough. You need to have experience and knowledge.

 

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