Strategic thinking is the way in which you think about, assess, view, and create the future for your business.
It is more than responding to both day-to-day as well as long term problems, opportunities and new realities. It is creating tomorrow. It is not reactive, but proactive.
Strategic thinking focuses on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value by having a provocative and creative discussion with your people and others who can affect your company’s direction. It is a way of understanding the fundamental drivers of a business and rigorously challenging conventional thinking about them.
It can encompass many things, but usually includes answering some or all of the following questions:
What are the company’s strengths?
How can these be used to create a unique competitive advantage?
What are the company’s weaknesses that might leave it vulnerable?
What is the portfolio of offerings that the company provides to the market? Like products, service, price and image.
What is the rationale or logic for these offerings?
What makes them unique?
What are the brands associated with these offerings?
How do these brands fit with the company’s image?
What is the overall economic context in which the company competes?
What is the regulatory or government environment, and how does it impact the company?
What is the structure of the industry?
Where is the industry headed and where do we want it to be?
What is our position in the industry, and what do we want it to be?
How does this industry connect with others, and what are the implications of that for our positioning?
Who are our target customers?
What are their needs?
How is our company uniquely suited to meet these particular needs?
What is the nature of the competition in our industry?
What other companies have offerings that could meet the same needs that we do?
What are their unique strengths and strategies?
How are they similar or different from us?
How might they respond to our strategies?
Are there companies not yet in the market who might choose to enter it?
What are their strengths and strategies?
What market conditions might lead to action on their part?
What other companies do we need to work with in order to make and sell our offerings?
What is their relative power compared with us?
What are their strategies and strengths, and are these aligned with ours?
What is in it for them?
No company can do everything or be all things to all people. Strategy setting involves making choices about what a company will do and, as important, what it will not do. Strategies provide clear guidance about how a company’s activities will be prioritized, and how its limited resources will be deployed.
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker, 1993
Actions you can take:
Set aside some time to think about your business. This should be away from the buzz and distractions of daily activity.
Decide if you are going to do this yourself, with your team, or others. It is strongly recommended that you involve your team.
Select the questions from the list above that are most pertinent to your business, answer them, and develop an action plan for change. Depending on the time you are willing to commit, cover as many questions as you can; for strategically thinking about your business is essential for continual success.