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​Strategic Thinking Course for Managers

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Posted 10 September 2013 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

Personal Development Courses

We offer both:
• Bespoke in-house training.
These can be tailored to your specific needs.
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You may find the following will help with your Decision Making and Problem Solving skills training.

How does strategic thinking contrast to tactical thinking?

We all want our actions to be successful.
"Success" may be defined as "the attainment of a long range, valuable and worthwhile goal."
"Successful action" therefore, is the action that is necessary to achieve our long range, valuable and worthwhile goals.

How can you engage in successful action?

Answer: follow the "The success formula".

The success formula is a description of all successful action.

All successful action follows the same five part process.

  1. Purpose
  2. Plan
  3. Action
  4. Feedback
  5. Change

1. The purpose

The Purpose is the goal for which everything else is subordinated, and for which every action is intended to secure.

2. The plan

The plan is a written statement that sets out the exact means by which the purpose-goal will be achieved.

3. The action

The action is the implementation of the plan.

4. The feedback

The feedback is the results of the actions; feedback comes in two categories.

  1. On target feedback- The current actions are creating the results we want and expect.
  2. Off target feedback- The current actions are not creating the results that we want or; the current actions are creating the results we did not expect.

5. The Change

The change is the evolutionary or revolutionary alterations that we need to make to the plan, and actions, in order to "get the process back on track".
What is strategic thinking and how does it contrast to tactical thinking?

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1. Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is thinking that is long range, preemptive, imaginative thinking, that is for the purpose of setting out a description of an improved future condition or state.
Strategic thinking is purposeful thinking: visionary and goal setting.

2. Tactical thinking

Tactical thinking is thinking that is shorter range, responsive and takes into account the current situation. Tactical thinking is intended to give the method by which the strategic goal may be achieved.

Tactical thinking is "planning" and "feedback-change" thinking.
The success formula is to be applied to everyone who wants to be successful.

Please note the following:
The success formula is contextual.
Your organisation has layers of authority.
For example your organisation may have the following hierarchical structure:

At the top of the hierarchy:

  1. The board of directors. Then comes:
  2. Senior management team.
  3. Middle management team.
  4. Operational management teams.
  5. Individual workers in each operational team.

The success formula is to be applied contextually to all levels of the organisation:

  1. The success formula is to be applied to The Board of directors who should be 90 % strategic thinking. Only 10% tactical thinking. They leave the tactical details to the lower levels of the hierarchy to figure out, in detail, how it will be done.
  2. The success formula is to be applied to the senior management team who should be 70% strategic and 30% tactical. They are thinking how to achieve the goals set out by the board. But they are thinking fairly abstractly, in broad brush strokes.
  3. The success formula is to be applied to the Middle management team who should be 50% strategy and 50% tactics combined.
  4. The success formula is to be applied to the Operational management teams who should be 70 % tactics with 30% strategy.
  5. The success formula is to be applied to each Individual worker who should be 90% tactical but should be aware of the corporate strategy.

Please, note the hierarchical nature of the system.

  1. The board of director's "Plan" becomes the "Purpose" for the senior management team.
  2. The SMT "plan" becomes the "purpose" for the middle management team.
  3. The middle managements plan becomes the purpose for the operational management team.
  4. The operational manager's plan becomes the purpose for the individual worker.

Please, also note that Feedback must flow back up the system.

  1. The individual worker must give feedback to the operations manager, so that important improvements and modifications to his-her plan may be made to the operational plan.
  2. The operational manager must give feedback to the middle manager so that important improvements and modifications can be made to the tactical plan.
  3. The middle managers must give feedback to the senior managers so that important improvements modifications may be made to the strategic and tactical plans.
  4. The senior management team must give feedback to the board of directors so that they know whether or not success is being achieved.

What is the difference between strategic and tactical thinking?

Strategic thinking tends to be more:

  1. Long range
  2. Progressive
  3. Preemptive: taking the initiative
  4. Future orientated
  5. Think BIG. Broad brush
  6. Optimistic
  7. Based on imagination
  8. What "could be"
  9. Idealised

Tactical thinking.

By contrast tactical thinking tends to be.

  1. Shorter range.
  2. Restorative.
  3. Responsive to negative feedback (things going wrong).
  4. Present moment thinking.
  5. Thinking about the small details.
  6. Cautious and maybe even pessimistic.
  7. Realistic- based upon the observation of all the current problems and things that are going wrong.
  8. About "what actually is happening now".
  9. Pragmatic.

How to make the change.

Temporarily lift yourself, mentally, from the current tide of troubles, and let your mind and imaginations soar like an eagle!

Strategic thinking:

Think long range: think progressively; think about the future; think big; think optimistically; think in pictures; based on a vivid imagination: think about what "could be":

Let yourself imagine an idealised situation:

  • Be like Walt Disney dreaming about setting up the first Disney Park in a Florida swamp.
  • Be like JFK thinking about putting an American on the moon and bringing him back safely.
  • Think like Henry Ford who dreamt about everyone owning their own car!

Once you have the vision, then:

Switch modes and become the tactician.

Think about the means by which the strategic vision may be achieved.

Blend the two systems of thought.

  • Soar like an eagle.
  • Analyse like a detective.
  • And then: Act like a hero

Follow the link for information about our strategic thinking training courses.

Thank you.

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