Eddie Rickenbacker, the American World War I fighter ace and Medal of Honor recipient said, “I can give you a six-word formula for success: ‘Think things through – then follow through.’ Research finds Captain Rickenbacker was right. A leader’s strategic thinking is a foundational key to organizational success (Salamzadeh, Bidaki, & Vahidi, 2018). So significant were the findings the researchers concluded that “strategic thinking can be considered as an essential core towards the development and the sustaining of competitive advantage among organizations” (p. 16). They found strategic thinking not only helped organizations reliably forecast the future business environment but also reduced uncertainty in organizational decisions. Further, strategic thinking positively impacts organizational planning as well as company changes, improvements and outcomes.
What is strategic thinking and how do leaders use it to successfully navigate their organizations through a continually changing business landscape? It begins with composing an effective plan for achieving clear objectives. Next, strategic actions are taken to meet the intended organizational objectives. But beyond simple planning and action taking, strategic thinking requires leaders to think beyond routine procedures in order to concentrate on intended long-term strategic purposes and objectives.
To think strategically requires you to synthesis current information and then combine analytic thinking, intuition and creativity and, finally, initiate innovative, calculated changes in activities and procedures to meet new objectives in an evolving organizational climate. In other words, strategic thinking is a continual process of thinking about an organization and how to develop a strategy which includes vision, creativity, flexibility, and entrepreneurial approach (Nuntamanop, Kauranen, & Igel,2013). This effort most often results in a new and very different future for an organization, which may lead to a redefinition of the principal strategies or even environment in which the company operates. Think Apple Computer–now Apple, Inc.
In fiercely competitive business environments, organizations require leaders who are skillful strategists. Strategic thinking leaders fully embrace Einstein’s conviction that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Future success in rigorously challenging competitive environments demands doing things differently tomorrow than you do them today—and that requires you to think strategically.
Nuntamanop, P., Kauranen, I., & Igel, B. (2013). A new model of strategic thinking competency. Journal of Strategy and Management, 6(3), 242-246.
Salamzadeh, Y., Bidaki, V. Z., & Vahidi, T. (2018). Strategic Thinking and Organizational Success: Perceptions from Management Graduates and Students. Global Business & Management Research, 10(4), 1–19.