Being More Strategic: The Importance Of Thinking


In recent weeks and blogs we’ve been considering how to ‘Be Strategic’ and making distinctions between Strategic Thinking vs. Strategic Planning.


I am not a strategy specialist. I am coming at this topic ultimately from the perspective of my role as a psychologist and coach, helping people, teams and organisations to step back a bit and consider; ‘Is there another way I (we) can do life and work?’.




Strategic Thinking vs. Strategic Planning:


Strategic thinking is about looking at the big picture and considering new ways of doing things and requires ideating, being open-minded, imagining, seeing alternatives, blue sky thinking, root cause analyses and lots more.


Strategic planning is about translating vision into defined goals, objectives, and a sequence of steps describing how to achieve them and requires organising, prioritising, focusing, detailing, implementing, charts, timetables, task lists and lots more.


In his book The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning (1994), Henry Mintzberg stated that the label ‘strategic planning’ should be dropped because strategic planning has impeded strategic thinking. Over 15 years later many individuals, teams and organisations fail to consider the difference between ‘strategic thinking’ and ‘strategic planning’;  the importance of both independently and interdependently; and the need to help all people at all levels of an organisation become more strategic.

In my experience, the mistake is thinking that ‘strategic planning’ is enough.  However, for the volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA) world we live in, it is not enough. As we have seen so clearly during 2020, the future does not resemble the past. Our future success as people, teams,  organisations and as a planet depends on considering new ways of doing things, ideating, being open-minded, imagining, seeing alternatives!


Mintzberg says “It is this disassociation of thinking from acting that lies close to the root of (strategic planning’s) problem.”


Your ‘be more strategic’ challenge: Part 3

  • If you rewound time back to early 2019 and you knew that Covid-19 would sweep the world one year from now, what benefits might there have been to allotting time to ‘strategic thinking’ and ‘strategic planning’ for your own life, the life and work of your team/s and the success of your organisation?
  • See below a few questions to get you ‘thinking’. Part 1 might guide your thinking if you are going through a strategic thinking process for yourself personally and in your role and career. Part 2 might then be a natural next set of questions to guide your thinking if you are thinking strategically in considering yourself as a leader of others.


Part 1:


What do I like to do that I want to do more of?

What do I not like to do, that I want to do less of?

What do I get from what I do?

What do I not get from what I do?





Part 2 

Most of the below questions are taken from a webinar delivered by @Peter Hawkins in July 2020 through @Coaches Rising. I thought the questions were really useful, especially because of the impact of all decisions we make today as leaders for the future survival of our species.


What is my reason to exist as a leader/ businessperson/ manager/ etc (you add as you wish) ?



What do I most care about re. my legacy / the impact I can have?



Who and what does my work-life serve?



What would the people/ organisations/ other stakeholders/ the world/ the environment say is the work I need to do to grow?



What might I regret in 1 year time not having worked on all of this?



What might I regret in 5 years time not having worked on this?



If all my stakeholders (these can be real or imaginary) were in the room 1 year from now what would they appreciate about the actions I take in the coming months?



What would these stakeholders main challenge/s to me be right now? e.g. (what can I do more of / less of / differently?)



If you have managed to  complete  these questions, please share your takeaways. Let’s  learn  from each other.



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