Strategic thinking process can be used in any organization seeking to gain a competitive edge. With a focus on improvement, often through creativity and innovation, strategic thinking builds a vision for an organization’s future prior to the linear process of developing a strategic plan. In the face of the competition and change that exists in today’s market, organizations and their leadership can take advantage of strategic thinking in order to move it forward toward a new and more successful future.
Strategic Thinking is a planning process that applies innovation, strategic planning and operational planning to develop business strategies that have a greater chance for success. Organizations are increasingly learning that past experiences are not the only foundation for developing future strategies.
Executives require to be mindful in considering how to create value for customers. Strategic planning, while vital, tends to answer the “hows” and “whens” of business planning and seldom capture the essence of strategic thinking. A Strategic Thinking process urges the mandate for creativity and innovation and encompasses a research phase to study the voice of the customer, the employee and industry best practices. It is an exercise in examining everything we do in our various roles, addressing the needs of our customers and ensuring that all of this is directly or indirectly linked to clearly defined strategic imperatives.
Employee involvement at every level of the strategic thinking process paves the way to warranting that they remain engaged in the implementation of the operational plans. Operational Planning is the process of welcoming the strategies and thereon developing them into action plans that are achievable and involve staff across the organization in ensuring that the needs of the customer and the organization are actualized.
In the absence of a comprehensive Strategic Thinking process,
the organization risks making quick decisions that lack the creativity and insights derived through a Strategic Thinking process itself. Strategic Thinking can be undertaken for the organization as a whole and as a sum of its parts or divisions within the organization. The aim is to think ahead – out-plan, out-think and out-maneuver other variables.
A clear, well-articulated strategy defines the corporate mission for those charged with carrying it out. Ironically, in most companies the strategy remains an idea in the mind of a few people. As management seeks to implement any strategy, the organization goes into a spiral from event to event, lacking clear mandate or direction. This results in the company losing momentum; with resources wasted. Strategic thinking is not strategic planning; traditional approaches to strategic planning produce time consuming and complex reports, something often poorly comprehended and difficult to implement.
In other words, the process of Strategic thinking is one that is very much alive, one that enables the senior management to envisage and formulate a strategy together, debate vital issues, gauge the internal and external environment the organization is likely to face, forge a meaningful strategic construct for the future endeavours of the company that upon unanimous consent is built into an action plan to be deployed effectively.