If you believe that strategic thinking is only for senior executives, think again. It can, and must, happen at every level of the organization; it’s one of those unwritten parts of all job descriptions. Ignore this fact and you risk getting passed over for a promotion, or having your budget cut because your department’s strategic contribution is unclear.

Strategic thinking is the process of developing and evaluating every decision and action in light of current and future circumstances, the direction you want to go in and the results you want to achieve. It involves being able to apply possibility thinking to every situation. It is not about doing “business as usual” but rather pushing the envelope to see what can be done smarter and what else can be done “instead of”, or as an “add on”, that would maximize opportunities.

Strategic thinking is used to address issues, make decisions and drive innovation. Successful strategic thinking can help maximize resources, add value to businesses and evoke positive change.

Strategic thinkers ground themselves in the values, principles, mission, and vision of the organization.  They have the ability to:

  • see the big picture
  • initiate innovative ideas
  • conceptualize complexity
  • know the right questions to ask
  • think horizontally and simultaneously
  • know when to ask searching questions
  • integrate concepts, however disparate
  • apply lateral thinking to different situations
  • challenge current processes, practices and strategy
  • unearth alternative approaches, solutions or methods

Strategic thinkers also know how to speak the language. They prioritize and sequence their thoughts. They structure their verbal and written communication in a way that helps their audience focus on their core message. They challenge the status quo and get people talking about underlying assumptions. Those that are really skilled walk people through the process of identifying issues, shaping common understanding, and framing strategic choices.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to “Harnessing a Strategic Mindset.”