As a manager, you work in an organization that has many different parts and units. Everyday you have to make decisions and choices that can help grow your organization. To make decision that will drive the best possible results for your company, you need to consider the wider implications of each course of action. To make the wisest possible choices you have to think strategically. But what does that really mean? Thinking strategically is a process that will help manage a team, lead a project and grow your company. In the very first article of this Strategic Thinking series, I’ll help you understand the process and what goes into strategic thinking. 

Articles In This Series (all articles in this series will be added here):

  1. #1: How To Introduce Strategic Thinking In Project Management
  2. #2: Using Strategic Thinking To Analyze The Bigger Picture
  3. #3: How To Set Long And Short-Term Goals?
  4. #4: Tools And Frameworks To Help You Implement Your Strategy

What Is Strategic Thinking?

Strategic thinking is strictly based on analyzing opportunities and threats from a wider perspective and understanding the potential impact of your decision and actions. Strategic thinkers understand what might or could be, and take a holistic approach to everyday issues. As a manager your job is to work with difficult problems and situations as best as you can by using the knowledge you have. However, you usually have little information to work with. Strategic thinking will help you to overcome these restrictions and face many different project management challenges. When you think strategically, you lift your head above your day-to-day work and imagine the larger environment in which you’re operating. You use the insights gained to make smarter choices and select best possible courses of action. Sounds good? Let’s dive in and discover first steps of implementing strategic thinking in your management process.

Why Is Strategic Thinking Important?

When you and your team members think strategically, you can easily turn out important benefits for your company:

  • You make smart long term decision that follow-up and align with decision that other managers and executives in your organization are making.
  • You boost your team’s creativity and maximize their performance through your management.
  • You gain your employees’ support of your decisions and commitment in completing daily tasks.

Who Needs To Think Strategically?

In today’s fast changing business environment, everyone who’s a part of an organization must know how to think strategically. Strategic thinking can be effective when it’s done as a team as well as individually. In groups, you can explore other people’s perspective on different types of issues – an important and crucial benefit in today’s challenging business landscape. For example, every member of your organization has a unique, individual and specific view of how the company works. By asking  and evaluating questions about how they interact with people from different parts of the company, you get a better understanding of how your actions might affect them and their work. By collaborating with other team members, you gain greater insight into the complex consequences of seemingly minor decisions. It’s these insights that help you make more strategic and thoughtful choices.

Who Is A Strategic Thinker?

People who think strategically have specific personal behaviors and thinking skills. You’re on your way to becoming a strategic thinker if you have the following characteristics:

  • Curiosity – You’re interested in what’s going on with your team, organization, industry and business overall.
  • Flexibility – You’re able to adapt approaches and generate ideas.
  • Future-Focused – You constantly consider how the conditions may change in the coming days, months and years.
  • Growth-Oriented  – You continuously work to broaden your knowledge and experience, so you can see connections and patterns across unrelated fields of knowledge. 
  • Positive Outlook – You view challenges as opportunities and you believe that success is possible. 
  • Openness – You welcome new ideas and also take criticism well by not reacting in a defensive way.

You have the marks of a strategic thinker if you are aware that your actions impact on many of individuals. To do this, you need to demonstrate the following behaviors: seek other people’s opinions, ask questions and challenge your expectations. Focus on the future, identify the forces driving your team’s and company’s performance and constantly think about how to improve them. Learn who your customers are and what they value. Commit to ongoing improvement by reading books, magazines, industry reports and also listening the podcast’s and watch the webinars. By practicing these behaviors, you will be better at spotting new opportunities and know how to utilize them.

What Are The Phases Of Strategic Thinking?

Strategic thinking can be divided into two phases, each of which consists of specific steps. 

Phase 1: Preparations:

  1. Analyze The Big Picture – understanding the broader business conditions in which you work. 
  2. Define Strategic Objectives – specify what you hope to achieve by thinking strategically.

Phase 2: Implementation:

  1. Identify Relationship and Trends – categorize information to manage to better manage your tasks. 
  2. Get Creative – generate alternatives, visualize new ideas and possibilities, challenge your assumptions, and open yourself up to learning more. 
  3. Analyze Information – sort out and prioritize the most important information while making a decision or managing a project.
  4. Prioritize Your Actions – stay focused on your objectives while handling multiple tasks.
  5. Strive For Balance – recognize the potential benefits and threat of an idea, and make choices that will balance between short and long-term goals.

If you’re looking for an experienced business partner that understands strategic thinking and uses it in their daily work – contact us and we will come up with solutions that will help you improve your business and provide great value to your customers.