Thinking Strategically for Strategic Planning

Dec 08, 2008

We have compiled a few interesting strategy articles to guide your thoughts throughout the strategic planning process.

James L. Morrison, 2000. “From strategic planning to strategic thinking”.

An article written by James L. Morrison titled, “From Strategic Planning to Strategic Thinking.” Mr. Morrison is reviewing another article written by Mintzberg, H. titled, The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning. Mr. Morrison does not give his opinion on Mintzberg articles, but he picked the main points and talked about them. One question that people usually ask is, are strategic planning and strategic thinking the same thing? According to Mintzber, strategic planning is about analysis (breaking down a goal into steps, designing how the steps may be implemented, and estimating the anticipated consequences of each step). On the other hand strategic thinking is about synthesis, about using intuition and creativity to formulate an integrated perspective, a vision of where the organization should be heading. Mintzberg stated that most people have the assumption that strategic planning, strategic thinking, and strategy making are synonymous.

Instant Strategist, 2002. ” Strategic Thinking.”

An article written by Instant strategist titled, “Strategic Thinking”. In the article they explained what is a strategy and who needs it. One very interesting point in this article is when it talks about e-strategy. Strategic planning has been in existence for many years. In fact, from a military standpoint, strategic planning has been around since biblical times. However, things have changed.

E-strategy is best described in the following sentences taken from this report.

“In the pre-Internet, or old economy, businesses moved only as fast as they could to interact with their clients and suppliers to transfer goods and services. For the most part, such activities were relatively slow compared to the level of speed, connectivity, and interactivity that we experience in today’s connected economy.

These three new elements, connectivity, interactivity, and speed, make business cycles much shorter, and force companies to plan faster and smarter strategies in order not to miss the train. Business cycles will become even shorter over time, as technology, innovation, and consumer behavior ascend the connected economy escalator.”

According to this article, start-up companies use different strategies than large companies. These are called Core (start-up) and Branch strategies (large companies). The best example of the interaction between the core and branch strategies is to look at the way a tree grows. In the early stages, the small trunk begins to grow branches. Similarly, a start-up initially has just a core strategy, but as it grows, it develops branches-some of which grow their own branch strategies.

Bottom Line Innovation Associates, Inc. 2003. ” Improving the Bottom Line…Innovatively.”

A video training course offered by Bottom line Innovation Associates, Inc. These are a three-part video set by Charles Prather. Each video provides good information and teach management to gain knowledge in the following:

  • Video 1– Innovation 101 – the basics of creativity
  • Video 2– Solving impossible problems by thinking out-of-the-box
  • Video 3– Your creativity style and its implication for your work and life.

This is a good and very inexpensive way to train employees and gain more knowledge in strategies. This set of videos s also comes with a book.

Transition Learning, 2003. “Strategic Thinking in the 21st Century.”

An online module titled, “Strategic Thinking in the 21st century.” This online module feature interactive activities, simulations, expert videos, original articles, classic pieces from the literature, and references to further resources. The program can be delivered solely online or via a blended online/on-ground model.

Some of the features that learners can benefit from are:

  • Develop an ability to see the challenges facing their industry
  • Apply new concepts and skills to their own work
  • Increase their own and their organization’s competence
  • Find value in the learning experience
  • Stay interested and engaged with the material
  • Tailor the program to their workforce.

Beinhocker, E.D. & Kaplan, S. (2003). The Real Value of Strategic Planning. Sloan Management Review.

The Real Value of Strategic Thinking, (2003) published in Sloan Management Review proposes the idea that few strategic decisions are made in the context of a formal process because a company’s most important strategic decisions are made as developments unfold. The authors contend that companies that achieve success use strategic planning not to generate strategic plans but as a learning tool to create a preparedness within an organization to make strategic decisions as the need arises. According to authors Kaplan and Beinhocker, the goal of the strategic planning process should be to make sure that the key decision makers ” have a solid understanding of the business, share a common fact base, and agree on the important assumptions” (p.8). When managers have this foundation, good strategic decisions can be made throughout the year.

The authors argue that the utility of strategic planning is really whether the participants are better prepared for the real-time job of strategic decision making. A number of real-world examples are presented in which companies were presented with opportunities for growth through acquisitions that were not anticipated. Understanding their business, armed with a common fact base and agreement on important assumptions prepared the executives to make sound strategic decisions that in retrospect, were the correct ones.

The conclusion drawn in the article is that strategic planning for the sake of preparing plans is unjustified and leaves managers unprepared to make sound decisions as the need occurs. By repositioning strategic planning as a learning process, formal strategic planning will prepare managers to make better strategic decisions.

“Thinking Strategically”, by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff.

The book is intended to act as a competitive edge resource for business and strategy. The main purpose of the book is about how to outmaneuver your competitors in strategic planning. The book, “Thinking Strategically” explains good strategy planning by providing case studies from business, sports, the movies, politics, and gambling. Examples of how to apply strategic thinking in business and everyday real life were also presented. Several useful models in the book were given as examples on how one can anticipate the competitor’s response in your industry. For example, decision trees and game trees can be used to look ahead and reason back what the opponent will do. The trees can also be utilized to predict the choices made in a game of strategy. In addition, they can act as a tool to look ahead at the decision makers’ future choices as well as the competitors in the industry by putting yourself in their shoes.

PSC-RD: Strategic Thinking

This article by Eton Lawrence (1999) suggests that strategic thinking is not just a new version of strategic planning. Instead, strategic thinking is a complimentary and critical addition to the process of strategic planning, implementation, and management. Strategic thinking requires taking a critical look at the underlying factors that lead to successful strategic planning. Laurence (1999) suggests that strategic thinking is essential for both strategy formulation and execution. This article would be a good primer for anyone embarking on a strategic planning mission.



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