What Is Strategic Thinking?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2018
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Strategic thinking is a process that calls for looking closely at pending opportunities and considering the broader impact that making certain choices in regard to those opportunities would have on everyone concerned. The idea behind this type of thinking is to look beyond the immediate impact of choosing a particular option and consider the bigger picture in terms of what type of repercussions the choice would have both now and in the years to come. Strategic thinking seeks to take a more global approach to decision making, with the goal of making choices that produce the greatest degree of benefit over the long term.

The process of strategic thinking requires that decision makers consider possible courses of action and how those actions will impact others. For example, a manager who must make a decision about how a production process is carried out within his or her department will begin by considering how a certain decision will affect that department. Once that impact is understood and found satisfactory, the manager will move on to project what that course of action could mean to other departments within the company structure. When successful, the manager will settle on an option that helps both to enhance efficiency within the department and to set the stage for greater efficiency in the other departments further along in the production process.


A strategic thinking approach can translate into other situations that require making decisions with a wider perspective in mind. A sales manager who must approve a new sales campaign will want to assess the impact of that campaign in not only markets in which the company is well-established, but also consider the potential impact in the broader base of consumers who are part of other market sectors. This means that while the campaign must attract attention from potential clients in the urban areas that are already part of the company’s customer base, some elements of the campaign should also allow for a broader appeal, possibly by including elements that will attract consumers who live in rural areas.

The actual process of strategic thinking often involves addressing local concerns, then moving on to project what would happen outside the immediate sphere of influence if a given course of action were pursued to deal with those concerns. Ideally, the approach that is ultimately chosen will successfully resolve those concerns without creating any difficulties for others who may have some connection with the situation. When and as a decision can not only benefit the immediate concerns but also aid in resolving issues of a broader nature and improve conditions for others, the strategic thinking approach is truly successful, benefiting as many people and situations as possible.



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