Hey Danny Boy, welcome back from your trip, Peter says as he smiles admiringly at his friend.
Thank you very much Peter, Daniel responds.
How did your training go? Peter asks excitedly.
Oh! It was revealing. We were taught how to think from a strategic point of view. Daniel responded.
Oh Daniel, don't kid me, Peter says with a slight tone of mockery. Isn't that all we do on this our job?
Yes, responded Daniel. However as a business, I think we are thinking about today and placing no emphasis on tomorrow. That's what the training revealed.
Strategic Thinking is about developing strategy; however the strategy should look at the past and present and learn lessons from them to plan a future that gives the organization a competitive advantage.
Strategic thinking enables you to integrate the future into your decision making processes today by thinking big, deep and long.
Hmmmm, I hear you, Peter says. But how does an organization think big, deep and long?
So in order to answer your question Peter, let's use a real life situation.
Let's say that we own a company that prints Cheque Books for all the Banks in Nigeria.
From 1990 till the year 2002, we were averaging revenues of over 10 billion Naira per annum, but from 2003 till 2017, our revenues dropped to 200 million Naira.
If you were the CEO of that company, what would you do?
Daniel, if that happens to my organization, I would begin a thorough investigation to know the cause of revenue loss. I would drill down to the department and to the person that is causing the revenue problem and I will fire the person or persons responsible for the loss of my company revenues.
Exactly my point, says Daniel. That decision on its own is strategic thinking. The only difference is that you are reacting to the situation created by the future working environment, instead of being proactive.
What if I told you that the loss of revenue wasn't caused by anyone in your organization; but it was caused by Online Banking and ATM Cards, which was created by digital Omni-channels.
Ah I see! Then maybe I should have started researching how our printing firm should diversify into printing ATM Cards or even making digital wallets to take advantage of the digital customer.
Daniel, I see your point clearly now. So I think the questions that I should keep asking my operational team and management team should be as follows:
- Do we understand how we connect and interact with other organizations and the external environment?
- How deeply are we questioning our ways of operating?
- Do we operate from our interpretation of the past, or our anticipation of the future?
- Are our assumptions today valid into the future?
- How far into the future are we looking?
- Do we understand the shape of alternative futures for our organization?
In a nutshell Daniel muttered; let me conclude by saying that:
Strategic thinking is identifying, imagining and understanding possible and plausible future operating environments for your organization and using that knowledge to expand your thinking about your potential future options.
Let me also add this Daniel, Peter says: Strategic Thinking is about how to position your organization effectively in the external environment, in order to make better informed decisions about actions to take today.