Strategic thinking and strategic planning are concepts with military roots. The words strategía or strategiké, meaning the art or skills of the general, are found in Greek antiquities dating from at least the second century. Modern business literature separates strategy into two concepts: the first, strategic thinking – thinking in an innovative, creative, and right-brained process that encourages an open exchange of ideas and solutions to meet the dynamic, often unpredictable challenges faced in today’s economy; the second, strategic planning, is the systematic and logical application of strategies. It covers a broad range of management approaches including development and implementation of an organizational strategic plan.
Evident in both approaches is a clear link between leadership and strategic management. Positional leaders are responsible for creating the environment and culture where open-ended creative ideas can flourish. Becoming a learning organization that builds strategic thinking and the discipline of learning into the fabric of an organization makes it more agile, more responsive to external pressure, and helps achieve extraordinary results with ordinary people.
Strategic Thinking is a planning process
Strategic thinking is a planning process that forms a blend of strategic planning, innovation, and operational planning in the development of business stratagems that have a greater scope for success. Organizations are increasingly coming of age to learning that past understanding is not always the best foundation for developing future strategies.
Executives need to be cognitive when considering value creation for customers. The exercise of strategic thinking and strategic planning, while vital, leans on the “how” and “when” of the process of business planning and infrequently capture the essence of what it means to think strategically as well, and it is at this point where strategic thinking comes into picture.
Strategic thinking involves making a series of decisions about what actions the company intends to take to become more successful. A company often goes through a strategic planning process once a year, creating a document that is, in essence, a guidebook for the management team to use in the upcoming year. Companies should strive to make strategic thinking an ongoing, year-round process.
Strategic planning concerns analysis – establishing and formalizing systems and procedures. Since the 1960s, theorists have emphasized successful development and implementation of a strategic plan – a deliberate, formal guide of the organization’s goals and objectives, as the critical means by which an organization achieved advantage. The traditional planning methodology assumes that the challenge of setting strategic direction is primarily analytic.
Strategic thinking and strategic planning are two sides of the same coin; while planning is an embedded function of overall decision-making in the organization, strategic thinking requires greater synthesis of creative and innovative plays when forming a vision that is different than the one currently being lived. Activities that spark strategic thinking are open-ended, free-formed with focus on emerging propositions, different perspectives and suspended convergence.
Strategic thinking positions strategy formulation and implementation as interactive processes rather than as sequential and systematic activities evident in traditional organizational planning processes. While strategic thinking is focused to a generalized vision of the future, the strategic plan sees a future that is predictable and measurable in prescribed detail. Strategic thinking is a distinct thinking activity that benefits organizations. Its resolve is to discover competitive strategies to better position the entity suggestively differently from a present-day standpoint.
Thinking strategically and strategic planning are different in that the latter delves into exercises to be taken into account in order to achieve goals and objectives. It is that which contributes to the overall, general, and all-encompassing concept, focusing on the the forthcoming direction of an organization founded on projected environmental conditions.