Many people confuse strategic planning with strategic thinking. Planning is something that happens after strategic thinking has taken place.
So what is strategic thinking?
Some might define it as rational, logical thought, or the ability to analyse and synthesise data and information in order to determine the optimum choice for future action. This implies that a person’s rational-cognitive abilities make up strategic thinking.
Others might take an opposing point of view and describe strategic thinking as the ability to imagine, create or innovate. Being able to recognise that ‘gut-feeling’ you get when you hit on a significant or important strategy to move your organisation forward. This suggests that a person’s intuitive-affective (emotional) mental abilities are the most important facet of strategic thinking.
I think it is both. To be a great strategic thinker, you need to be able to access the rational-cognitive functions of your brain, as well as those all important intuitive-affective functions. Adopting both perspectives means applying logical analysis, as well as creative, imaginative tools, help to generate strategies that work in business terms, but are not merely extensions of today’s strategies and plans. These could result in dramatic successes for your organisations such as profit, vision or mission accomplishment or other outcomes you are pursuing.