Strategic thinking is the term used for the proliferation and implementation of important business concepts to gain competitive advantage. It is a process which is applied on an ongoing basis and hence; it involves the generation of shrewd business ideas that can fulfill growth objectives of an organization.
Many a times, strategic thinking is confused with strategic planning. Although, the terms are relatable but there is subtle difference between the two. Strategic thinking is more of a continuous process, whereas the strategic planning is a process that is carried out after fixed time intervals. Apart from that, strategic planning also involves a wide array of tasks, whereas strategic thinking is only about viewing your business with an analytical mindset to enhance productivity.
All of us have encountered strategic thinking in our daily lives. It is a process that comes under different degrees and dimensions. In simple words, it is the ability of a person to think strategically. Intrinsically, an individual’s ability to generate strategic insights is based on two different categories: Impact of Insights, and Frequency of Insights.
To elaborate types of strategic thinking, let’s consider the example of underwater diving.
In this case, there are four different types of strategic thinkers. The first category is termed as the Beach Bum. This category doesn’t contribute anything to the project or the business. But he or she will roam around like a beach bum. The second category is termed as the Snorkeler. This category is the one who creates a panic-like situation but does not come up with any solution to the impending problems. The third category is the Scuba Diver. This category has all the right tools and training to generate probable solutions or strategic insights, and they do so. The last category is the free diver. This category has the potential to take risks and go out of the box to find solutions to the problems. Their ideas are novel and unique.
Interestingly, an average human being can’t hold its breath for more than a minute. However, free divers have been successful for holding their breaths up to 11 minutes. Though, the difference is bizarre but it can be attributed to the efficient resourcefulness and practice done by the free divers. They have learned the art of efficiently using limited oxygen for prolonged period of times. This is a classic example of strategic thinking in which you learn the effective use of available resources to achieve maximum output.
However, in the first look it only seems as if the things required for a manager to become an efficient strategic thinker are the adequate knowledge and a mindset to think strategically on a continuing basis.
Although, these two elements are essential for strategic thinking, another important aspect of strategic thinking is risk taking. Many a times, the difference between a successful and unsuccessful business is the appetite to take risks and innovate new things.
This scenario is well explained in a quote by Roberto Goizueta, the former CEO of Coca-Cola company:
“If you take risks, you may still fail. If you do not take risks, you will surely fail. The greatest risk of all is to do nothing.”