Are you a strategic thinker?

by Thomson Dawson on March 22, 2014

in Personal / Professional Development

Strategic thinking is a skill that can’t be taught– it’s a natural inclination you’re born with. Are you a strategic thinker?

I spend most of my time consulting with clients on strategy–helping them to see useful patterns where everyone else  sees complexity. In my experience, most creative entrepreneurs just want to know HOW to get to their goal. That’s tactics not strategy.  Strategic thinking requires you know WHY you are intent on pursuing any particular course of action.

When you are clear about your why, the how to get there seemingly takes care of itself. Like gravity, I don’t know how this principle works, I just know it does.

Being a strategic thinker is a gift. You have it or you don’t.  One can learn principles of strategic thinking, however if you don’t possess the natural talent for strategic thinking, the learning will be difficult. It’s like trying to learn to play the piano when you have no talent for music.

Interestingly enough, those with the gift of strategic thinking hardly see at such. Like all natural systems –like breathing– your gifts operate effortlessly mostly under your awareness. You may be a brilliant strategic thinker but have yet to acknowledge it and self apply it to your conscious behavior.

To help you connect with your gift for strategic thinking and the power it has to strengthen your resolve to achieve any desire, here are several attributes and themes that may seem familiar to you and are shared by all strategic thinkers.

Strategic thinkers see through the clutter and the bullshit.
They have an extraordinary perspective on how the world works. They “see” pathways hidden inside complexity. These pathways or insights often result in uncanny solutions rich in their obvious simplicity.

Strategic thinkers are naturally curious always asking “what-if” questions.
They link “what if “scenarios together like pearls in a necklace. They are always few moves ahead of where the world happens to be on the chessboard of life. They’re relentless in their questions, which usually enables them to spot trends that have lucrative opportunities embedded within them.

Strategic thinkers think about the important and not so much on the urgent.
While others focus on navel gazing their immediate circumstances, strategic thinkers find it incredibly obvious that if you look down the road and decide what you want to have happen when you get there, you won’t be a victim of your current circumstances anymore.

Strategic thinkers evaluate risks and obstacles.
They see repercussions more clearly than others. They don’t pursue any course of action without careful consideration of the downside. Then they systematically assess “if this or that happens, can we live with that outcome?”  They are usually more prepared and ready for where events may lead them.

Strategic thinkers are not attached to their own preconceived ideas.
They use their insight and intuition to cull through and discard the potential pathways leading to resistance and confusion.

Strategic thinkers take determined action.
They don’t procrastinate and wring their hands in worry and fret. They strike forward confidently armed with their strategy.  Through their action they keep their vivid vision from becoming a pipe dream.

There’s an old saying “it takes one to know one” Hopefully that’s the case for you! Our natural inclinations always reveal our strengths. If you have the awareness and application of your inner strengths, you’ll spend less time thinking about your shortcomings.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Don Borreson March 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm

TD: I’ve followed your perspectives for quite some time — and as always, this ‘White Hot Center’ entry is provocative and (in the main) insightful.

However, while Strategic Thinking may be a more ‘innate’ gift for some than others, it most certainly CAN be taught. This is not to defend the hundreds of millions of wasted MBA tuition every year, but the workplace and marketplace provides a Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ incentive and learning lab for strategic thinking.

As an example, as a purely conceptual thinker, I eventually developed and honed my strategic instincts and ‘connection synapses’ — initially at JWT and in greater depth at Coca-Cola.
What environments and cultures like these do first is build you a cognitive framework to ‘cut through the clutter’; from there, they demand ‘so what’ filters that drive an implications-for-action mindset.

With regular exercise of that process — and living with those judgments (and their consequences) — I believe Strategic Thinking can become like muscle memory, allowing faster processing and better results.

Keep stirring the pot, Thom!

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