What Is Strategic Thinking and How to Develop It (2023)

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.

(Video) What is Strategic Thinking? The Deep Dive Strategic Thinking Framework

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.

All kind of thinking need time. You can spare your free time using different tools in case you're a director, SEO or a manager of the company. And variety of software can become a real help to achieve your goal whether in monitoring or in finding free time to develop your strategic thinking. The Best Employee Monitoring can help you with this choice.

  1. (Video) Simon Sinek on How to Improve Strategic Thinking

    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.

    Another helpful tip is to gather as much as possible information and try to analyze it before planning. For example, if you go on a trip, check the weather forecast and see if you need to take that coat and sweater. However, if you think outside daily situations, things become more complicated. For instance, being a business owner, how can you predict and plan its growth? The thing is that you must know all ins and outs of your business, how the work is getting done and how much time and resources it takes to complete. Luckily, today's market offers a variety of tools that will gather and interpret this information for you. One of the best solutions is CleverControl that will help you track your team's daily work routine and find out possible slackers, insider threats or overspend of resources.

    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".

    Read more about CleverControl Employee Monitoring

  2. 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.

    (Video) Rich Horwath Keynote Speech on Strategic Thinking
  3. 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.

    (Video) How to be a more strategic thinker

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    (Video) 5 tips to develop strategic thinking for managers

    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.


What is meant by strategic thinking? ›

Strategic thinking focuses on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value for your organisation. The term has been misused and abused in the past and too often strategic planning sessions fail to deliver any value.

What are the 5 key elements of strategic thinking? ›

Liedtka (1998) mentions five characteristics of strategic thinking: systems perspective, intent focused, thinking in time, hypothesis driven and intelligent opportunism.

What are the 4 key components in strategic thinking? ›

Components of strategic thought and action

Six common components include: 1) tools for analysis; 2) strategic purpose; 3) values; 4) vision; 5) key goals; and 6) action planning.

What are examples of strategic thinking? ›

6 examples of strategic thinking
  • Gather information. A critical aspect of strategic thinking can be gaining as much information and knowledge about the problem or situation as possible. ...
  • Consider future challenges. ...
  • Seek guidance. ...
  • Consider opposing methods. ...
  • Continue learning.
Oct 25, 2021

What makes a good strategic thinker? ›

Demonstrating decisiveness: Strategic thinkers understand the importance of being decisive in their decision-making. They efficiently gather information and then make a decision based on that information. They recognize that reaching conclusions and being decisive takes both knowledge and confidence.

What are the 6 P's of strategic thinking? ›

In strategic thinking, there are six P's, as follows: Plan, Ploy, Pattern, Position, Perspective, and Process.

How do I start thinking more strategically? ›

5 tips for thinking strategically at work
  1. Look forward. Strategic thinkers are accustomed to looking towards the future. ...
  2. Continue learning. ...
  3. Talk to others. ...
  4. Take risks. ...
  5. Consider the other side.
Nov 30, 2021

What are the 8 key qualities of strategic thinkers? ›

Read on to learn more.
  • Strategic Thinkers Embrace the Future and New Possibilities. ...
  • They Take Risks. ...
  • They're Creative. ...
  • They Don't Accept the Status Quo. ...
  • They're Voracious Learners. ...
  • Strategic Thinkers are Willing to Adapt. ...
  • They Understand Delayed Gratification. ...
  • They Work Effectively, Instead of Just Being Busy.

What are examples of strategic thinking in everyday life? ›

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.

How do you demonstrate strategic thinking at work? ›

Ask yourself, “Do people know where I stand?” Show that you can initiate innovation and bring strategic change. Use your knowledge to put ideas into action. Volunteer to execute an innovative project to show that your understanding extends beyond your current function.

What are strategic thinking skills as a leader? ›

What is Strategic Thinking in Leadership? Strategic thinking is a long term thought process to achieve a successful team or company. This means having the capacity to anticipate, the discipline to prepare now, and the ability to position yourself to compete and win in the future.

What are the seven pillars of strategic thinking? ›

Strategic thinking requires research, analytical thinking, innovation, problem-solving skills, communication and leadership skills, and decisiveness.

What skills do strategic thinkers have? ›

In its simplest form, strategic thinking is an ability to plan for the future. It's the capacity to prepare strategies and conjure ideas that will both cope with changing environments and consider the various challenges that lie ahead.

How do you talk strategically? ›

Ten characteristics of effective strategic conversations
  1. Provide clarity of purpose and vision. ...
  2. Develop shared goals at top. ...
  3. Encourage a focus on strengths and celebrate what the organisation does well. ...
  4. Build conversation skills and curiosity. ...
  5. Focus on the Future. ...
  6. Adopt an external perspective.
Dec 14, 2016

What are the five C's of strategic planning? ›

But there are five underlying themes, which we have named the 'Five Cs' – Carbon, (Natural) Capital, Community, Communication and Cooperation – that I believe all businesses should consider incorporating into their future plans.

What are the 3 strategic approaches? ›

These three different strategies are crucial for a business's success.
Within the domain of well-defined strategy, there are three uniquely different and crucial strategy types:
  • Business strategy.
  • Operational strategy.
  • Transformational strategy.

Why is it difficult to think strategically? ›

It's tough to think strategically when everything on your calendar--and in your brain--deals with the here and now. We are most emotionally connected to the present and the past, and least emotionally connected to the future--which partially explains why we are so bad at taking time to strategize and plan.

Can strategic thinking be taught? ›

Strategic thinking is more of a creative process. So, can strategic thinking be taught? Yes.

What is the 3 characteristic of good thinkers? ›

alertness to likely future events in order to anticipate their consequences. understanding of the opinions of other people. fair-mindedness in appraising reasoning. honesty in facing one's own biases, prejudices, stereotypes, or egocentric tendencies.

What makes a person strategic? ›

Strategic Thinkers Make Better Decisions By Being More Reflective. Strategic thinkers do it differently. They understand and dig deeper with regards to analyzing processes, developing and applying performance metrics, collecting data and producing analytics to make more informed decisions.

What is strategic thinking and why is it important? ›

It comprises the ability to review and optimize your plans to fit the changing realities of your environment. Usually, thinking strategically applies to long-term goals. Individuals who can think strategically have a vision and create actionable plans to help them achieve their goals.

How do you demonstrate strategic thinking? ›

They know how important it is to have an action plan to achieve their goals. They present critical and analyzing tinging, to help them to evaluate results and avoid future problems. Planning, showing decisiveness, setting goals and welcoming feedback proves that they have strategic thinking skills.

What are the behaviors of a strategic thinker? ›

Read on to learn more.
  • Strategic Thinkers Embrace the Future and New Possibilities. ...
  • They Take Risks. ...
  • They're Creative. ...
  • They Don't Accept the Status Quo. ...
  • They're Voracious Learners. ...
  • Strategic Thinkers are Willing to Adapt. ...
  • They Understand Delayed Gratification. ...
  • They Work Effectively, Instead of Just Being Busy.

How can I become a better strategist? ›

The 10 Mental Skills Necessary to Become a Strategic Visionary
  1. Whole brain thinking. Think strategically requires you to stretch beyond routine thoughts to contemplate ideas beyond the logic of the left brain. ...
  2. Create a vision. ...
  3. Define objectives. ...
  4. Be flexible. ...
  5. Intuitive. ...
  6. Students of life. ...
  7. Take mental breaks. ...
  8. Seek advice.
Oct 1, 2015

How do you get leaders to think strategically? ›

Develop strategic thinking skills
  1. Practice problem solving at all levels. Don't just leave it to management. ...
  2. Provide more feedback. ...
  3. Create team projects. ...
  4. Set aside time for strategic planning. ...
  5. Share information. ...
  6. Establish a mentoring program. ...
  7. Encourage “why” and “when” questions.
Dec 11, 2018

What are strong strategic skills? ›

Strategic skills are abilities you can develop to help you think strategically and innovatively. These skills can help you adapt depending on the situation you're facing.

Do strategic thinkers make good leaders? ›

Why is Strategic Thinking Important for Leaders? When a leader is able to consider strategic thinking, they gain an important skill. They are able to work through unknown situations, and gain abilities to reason, learn, and make decisions that enable employees to push forward in the face of setbacks.

How can I sharpen my strategic thinking? ›

How to Improve Your Strategic Thinking Skills
  1. Ask Strategic Questions. If you want to improve your strategic thinking skills, one of the simplest things you can do is ask more strategic questions. ...
  2. Observe and Reflect. ...
  3. Consider Opposing Ideas. ...
  4. Embrace Formal Training.
Sep 10, 2020

What are the principles of strategic thinking? ›

  • The Principles of Strategic. Thinking.

What are the three 3 components of strategic planning? ›

Effective strategic planning is a process that should be broken down into three separate, equally important components: strategic thinking, long-range planning, and operational planning.


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