Strategic thinking helps you plan, become more efficient, maximize my strengths, and find the most direct path toward achieving any objective. The benefits of strategic thinking are numerous. Here are a few of the reasons you should adopt it as one of your thinking tools:
1. Strategic Thinking Simplifies the Difficult. Strategic thinking is really nothing more than planning on steroids. Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes said, “The man who is prepared has his battle half fought.” Strategic thinking takes complex issues and long-term objectives, which can be very difficult to address, and breaks them down into manageable sizes. Anything becomes simpler when it has a plan!
Strategic thinking can also help you simplify the management of everyday life. You do that by using systems, which are nothing more than good strategies repeated. Just about any difficult task can be made simpler with strategic thinking.
2. Strategic Thinking Prompts You to Ask the Right Questions. Do you want to break down complex or difficult issues? Then ask questions. Strategic thinking forces you through this process. Take a look at the following questions developed by Bobb Biehl, the author of Masterplanning.
- Direction: What should we do next? Why?
- Organization: Who is responsible for what? Who is responsible for whom? Do we have the right people in the right places?
- Cash: What is our projected income, expense, net? Can we afford it? How can we afford it?
- Tracking: Are we on target?
- Overall Evaluation: Are we achieving the quality we expect and demand of ourselves?
- Refinement: How can we be more effective and more efficient (move toward the ideal)?
These may not be the only questions you need to ask to begin formulating a strategic plan, but they are certainly a good start.
3. Strategic Thinking Prompts Customization. General George S. Patton observed, “Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans.”
All good strategic thinkers are precise in their thinking. They try to match the strategy to the problem, because strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Sloppy or generalized thinking is an enemy of achievement. The intention to customize in strategic thinking forces a person to go beyond vague ideas and engage in specific ways to go after a task or problem. It sharpens the mind.
4. Strategic Thinking Prepares You Today for an Uncertain Tomorrow. Strategic thinking is the bridge that links where you are to where you want to be. It gives direction and credibility today and increases your potential for success tomorrow. It is, as Mary Webb suggests, like saddling your dreams before you ride them.
5. Strategic Thinking Reduces the Margin of Error. Any time you shoot from the hip or go into a totally reactive mode, you increase your margin for error. It’s like a golfer stepping up to a golf ball and hitting it before lining up the shot. Misaligning a shot by just a few degrees can send the ball a hundred yards off target. Strategic thinking, however, greatly reduces that margin for error. It lines up your actions with your objectives, just as lining up a shot in golf helps you to put the ball closer to the pin. The better aligned you are with your target, the better the odds that you will be going in the right direction.
6. Strategic Thinking Gives You Influence with Others. One executive confided in another: “Our company has a short range plan and a long range plan. Our short range plan is to stay afloat long enough to make it to our long range plan.” That’s hardly a strategy, yet that’s the position where some business leaders put themselves. There’s more than one problem with neglecting strategic thinking in that way. Not only does it fail to build the business, but it also loses the respect of everyone involved with the business.
The one with the plan is the one with the power. It doesn’t matter in what kind of activity you’re involved. Employees want to follow the business leader with a good business plan. Volunteers want to join the pastor with a good ministry plan. Children want to be with the adult who has the well-thought-out vacation plan. If you practice strategic thinking, others will listen to you and they will want to follow you. If you possess a position of leadership in an organization, strategic thinking is essential.”