Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions.
How do you determine if you are strategically thinking or just doing good planning? That is an excellent question, Leader. Follow my hard lesson. I was completing my assignment during a graduate course on strategic thinking and felt pretty confident about the assignment. I sent my draft report to my professor and got his response. My professor informed me to start over. I had read the books and looked at several examples. However, I had missed the intent of strategic thinking. I thought, how could I make this mistake?
Lets explore the errors of my ways. I had failed to distinguish between strategic thinking and planning. My draft report contained plenty of planning but was anemic on strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is more than carefully planning the organizations work. Strategic thinking consists of two components, which are knowledge about the present and foresight about the future. Wacker, Taylor, and Means, leadership gurus, advocate the importance of duality for exemplary organizations.
The following are characteristics of strategic thinking: (a) focusing on important issues, (b) selecting relevant information, (c) recognizing systematic properties (linkages, patterns, etc.), (d) understanding through distinguishing causes from effect; clarifying assumptions; considering the issue in a big picture; maintaining a long-term view, (d) appreciating consequences, (e) generating alternatives, (f) integrating logical with creative, divergent thinking, (g) remaining flexible, and (h) acting during crises. This was a painful lesson I learned. Likewise, leaders must be flexible to sudden market changes. Therefore, effective organizations go beyond detailed planning to strategic thinking.
Irene, T. (1998). Strategic Thinking and the New Science. New York: The Free Press.
Mitchell, R. (2005). Strategic Thinking. Received on June 6, 2006 from http://www.csun.edu/~hfmgt001/st-thinking.htm.
Wacker, W., Taylor, J., & Means, H. (2000). The Visionarys Handbook. New York: HarperBusiness.
© 2006 by Daryl D. Green