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Strategic Thinking
Prepared by Dr Akram
What is Strategic thinking
Reviewing the literature related to strategic
management, points out that there is no agreement
on definition of strategic thinking. A number of
authors have used strategic thinking
interchangeably with other concepts such as
strategic planning or strategic management.
(Monnavarian et al, 2011) examples have been
provided by the authors
What is Strategic thinking
Strategic thinking has been investigated in
both the management and psychological
literature with the management literature
concentrating on the process of strategic
thinking and making strategic decisions
(Mintzberg, 1994; Drejer et al., 2005)
whereas the psychological literature has
concentrated on factors affecting strategic
thinking and decision making (Hambrick and
Mason, 2001; Pant, 1998).
What is Strategic thinking
According to the management approach strategic
thinking involves two distinct thought processes:
planning and thinking. Planning concerns analysis,
this involves establishing and formalizing systems
and procedures whereas thinking involves
synthesis encouraging intuitive, innovative and
creative thinking at all levels of the organization
(Mintzberg, 1994).
What is Strategic thinking
Drejer et al., (2005, p. 50) define it as
“thinking about possible scenarios and
strategy in a creative manner that is relatively
free from existing boundaries”. While Bonn,
(2005 p. 337) defines strategic thinking as “a
way of solving strategic problems that
combine a rational and convergent approach
with creative and divergent thought
What is Strategic thinking
Garratt (1995) defined strategic thinking
as a process by which senior executives
‘‘can rise above the daily managerial
processes and crises’’ (p. 2) to gain a
different perspective of the organization
and its changing environments.
What is Strategic thinking
Porter(1987) states that strategic
thinking is “ the glue that holds
together the many systems and
initiatives within the company” he also
views good strategic planning as a
contributor to strategic thinking
What is Strategic thinking
Heracleous (1998) suggests that
strategic thinking and strategic planning
are interconnected and equally
significant for effective strategic
management. Thompson and Strickland
(1999) stress that a well-designed
strategic management system facilitates
strategic thinking within the
From all the previous definitions it can be
concluded that strategic thinking differs from
strategic management and strategic planning,
from the researcher point of view strategic
thinking can be defined as: Engaging of the
mind in the concepts and theories of strategic
management and landing them on the reality of
the organization to achieve its long run goals
Strategic Management, Strategic Planning
and Strategic thinking
Nowadays Strategic Management is the
father of all branches of knowledge
related to strategy including strategic
planning and strategic thinking.
Strategic Management, Strategic Planning
and Strategic thinking
Strategic Management can be defined as: a
set of managerial decisions and actions which
determines the performance of the
organization in the long run, it includes the
following phases : environmental scanning,
strategy formulation, strategy
implementation, and strategy monitoring,
controlling and evaluation (Wheelen and
Hunger, 2012)
Strategic Management, Strategic Planning
and Strategic thinking
Strategic planning can be considered
as strategic planning and can be defined as: the
development of long-range plans for the
effective management of environmental
opportunities and threats in light of
organizational strengths and weaknesses
(SWOT) (David, 2011; and Wheelen and
Strategic Management, Strategic Planning
and Strategic thinking
Mintzberg (1994) stated that ‘‘strategic
planning is not strategic thinking’’ (p.
107) and suggested a clear distinction
between strategic thinking and strategic
planning. In his view, strategic planning
focuses on analysis and deals with the
articulation, elaboration and
formalization of existing strategies.
Strategic Management, Strategic Planning
and Strategic thinking
Strategic thinking, on the other hand,
emphasizes synthesis, using intuition and
creativity to create ‘‘an integrated perspective
of the enterprise’’ (p. 108). He argued that
each term focuses on a different stage in the
strategy development process. In his view,
strategic planning is a process that should
occur after strategic thinking. (Cited from
Monnavarian et al, 2011)
Strategic Management, Strategic Planning
and Strategic thinking
From the researcher’s point of view
strategic thinking is a process that
should occur in all strategic
management phases
Attributes of strategic thinking
Liedtka (1998) posits five major attributes
of strategic thinking:
 1. Strategic thinking reflects a systems
or holistic view that appreciates how the
different parts of the organization
influence and affect each other as well
as their different environments.
Attributes of strategic thinking
2. Strategic thinking embodies a focus on
intent. In contrast with the traditional strategic
planning approach that focuses on creating a
‘‘fit’’ between existing resources and
emerging opportunities, strategic intent
intentionally creates a substantial
‘‘misfit’’between these.
Attributes of strategic thinking
3. Strategic thinking involves thinking in
time. Strategic thinkers understand the
interconnectivity of past, present and
Attributes of strategic thinking
4. Fourth, it is hypothesis driven. Hypothesis
generating and testing is central to strategic
thinking activities. By asking the creative
question ‘‘What if?’’ followed by the critical
question ‘‘If . . . then . . .?’’ strategic thinking
spans the analytic-intuitive dichotomy that
Mintzberg refers to in his definition of thinking
as synthesis and planning as analysis.
Attributes of strategic thinking
5. Strategic thinking invokes the
capacity to be intelligently opportunistic,
to recognize and take advantage of
newly emerging opportunities
Attributes of strategic thinking
Napier and Albert (1990) referring to system
thinking, thinking about long-term profits
rather than short-term benefits, identifying
repetitive patterns in the events, choosing a
person responsible for strategic thinking,
making use of past events to predict future,
using past knowledge to prepare appropriate
model for decision making.
Figure 1 Processes of strategic thinking
and planning
Attributes of strategic thinking
. Bonn (2005) emphasizing on process approach,
using cognitive concepts, ability in finding different
solutions for specific problems, interaction among
strategies at different levels and between different
units of organizations, understanding the dynamics of
internal and external environment, understanding the
situation of organizations within bigger systems,
visualizing future goals and most advantageous
future, knowing new competitive areas, capability of
integrating different ideas into a new and fresh idea.
Strategic thinking Factors
Creativity and attention to the past, the
present and the future.
Organic structure organization.
Environment analysis.
Conflict management.
Awareness of the situation.
Futuristic approach
Strategic thinking Factors
Diversified mind pattern.
Organizational climate and coordination.
Systematic thinking.
Process approach.
Peter Drucker’s strategic
Drucker tended to start by asking some basic
questions, which, despite their simplicity, are
often overlooked. Every senior manager, he
said, should be constantly asking ‘Do we
want to be in this business? Would we
choose to enter this sector now? Who are our
customers? Where are they? What do they
want?’ In fact, all three of his key strategies
start with questioning.
Peter Drucker’s strategic
Zand phrases them like this:
1. Ask penetrating questions of people
who understand current and future
realities so they can generate and
evaluate a creative set of strategic
Peter Drucker’s strategic
2. Reframe the prevailing few in simple
understandable terms that enable a review of
priorities and an adjustment of actions to
better adapt to the competitive environment.
3. Question the assumptions underlying
current views. Consider alternative
assumptions and diligently probe their context
and strategic implications.
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