Among various critical skills needed for scoring big successes, both in professional and personal life, strategic thinking is one of the most invaluable and, at the same time, one of the most sophisticated.
The ability to know what you desire, and how to gain it, is the essence of strategic thinking. It means that we are capable of coming up with effective a plan to achieve our goal. However, to get a clearer comprehension of this phenomenon, we have to understand what a strategy is.
In the military, a strategy is a general plan of attack or a plan of defense. Such plan needs arrangements made beforehand, engaging the enemy and aiming to put this enemy at a disadvantage.
Today, war strategies and tactics have become prototypes for various business techniques, aiming at winning small wars in the competitive environment.
One of the modern definitions of a strategy belongs to John Bryson, professor of planning and public policy at the University of Minnesota. He describes a strategy as “a pattern of purposes, policies, programs, actions, decisions, or resource allocations that define what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it.” In a nutshell, a strategy is a plan of action for reaching one’s goals.
Strategic thinkers always search for the unusual and look at things or situations from different perspectives. They have a broad view, sense points of opportunities and conflicts, anticipate change, and are able to find the relationship between key components of any problem.
Becoming a good strategic thinker requires a clear vision of what you want to get; analyzing your current resources to develop the further action plan; prioritizing your goals and tasks; being flexible in this volatile world; being a learner eager to continuously absorb internal and external information, and so on.
In the professional field, being a strategic thinker means possessing a skeleton key to a successful career. Of course, strategic thinking skills are critical for company management, but they are no less important for all workers, regardless of the positions they hold.
Employers are looking for candidates with strategic thinking skills, because possessing them means to be capable of performing long-term planning, setting goals, determining priorities, and identifying potential opportunities and risks, building external networks, reframing problems, challenging current beliefs and never taking any information at face value.
Thus, everyone – every worker – can understand the drivers, strengths, and weaknesses of any situation that happens, or may happen, in his or her area of responsibility, and how it may affect the whole company.
There are very many strategic tools that one can use while thinking strategically, such as PEST analysis, which includes political, economic, social and technological factors that should be considered; SWOT analysis, which evaluates strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a project; and many others.
There is also a unique study called game theory that is a genuinely strategic way to cope with various business and everyday situations. Game theory is the mathematical modeling of any interactive situation (“game”) in which two or more independent “players” have intertwining interests.
Game theory helps us understand how people reason in a particular situation, and then apply this knowledge to the best strategy in your own game. To do so, we have to gather all necessary information about our rival, such as his identity, his preferences, what he knows, and what resources are available for building his strategy. Then we’ll be able to draw a game matrix and find out how each possible decision can influence the outcome of the game.
With the help of this theory, we will have access to invisible opportunities which cannot be seen if we just accept an available, or habitual, course of action.
We will learn to find out the best strategy in any situation (dealing with finite and infinite repetition games); to find decisions that can maximize our profits but, in turn, harm our rival; or on the contrary, to cooperate with the rival or coordinate the behavior for mutual advantage, etc.
Indeed, game theory can be applied not only to business dilemmas, sports, political campaigns, elections, auctions, competitions among firms, etc., but also to daily, even trivial, situations. Game theory is a powerful tool for the understanding world around us.
Mastering the application of game theory, you will be able to model and solve such dilemmas as whether to say “I love you” or stay silent; whether to change lanes in heavy traffic or continue driving in one of them; whether to go to an automobile dealership or to bargain with a car salesman while trying to buy a cheaper car; whether to clean dishes right after having a meal or to let them spend some time in the sink; what course to attend; who to marry; what restaurant to chose, and so on.
Nowadays, strategic thinking skills are a must, as they open any door in front of you, letting you make right decisions and anticipate the reaction of those who are affected by them.
Y Skills Institute is ready to be your guide and mentor on this unbelievably fascinating way to becoming a strategic thinker. Michael Porter, an economist, author, and speaker, said, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” So decide not to stay passive, start improving yourself right now and you will get incredible results soon.