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When leaders are able to think strategically and communicate the importance of strategic planning across the organization, this helps to: 

  • Establish a solid direction for your organization
  • Differentiate your products or services  
  • Make better business decisions 
  • Communicate a clear business vision  
  • Help others participate in decision-making 
  • Generate ideas for long-term stability and profitability
  • Give managers and team members a greater sense of purpose  

Thinking and planning strategically only works to facilitate agile decision-making when you have a clear understanding of how to consistently implement each concept. 

Strategic Planning Versus Strategic Thinking 

Strategic planning is about a linear process and set of steps where there is a defined start and end and multiple short term goals. Usually, this is undertaken by management. 

It also encompasses both traditional and logical ways of thinking and typically involves analyzing data and defining a goal. 

But does this process always end in favourable results? Not so much in today’s increasingly uncertain business climate. 

Strategic thinking is a more fluid concept that is not so linear and instead encourages creativity, investigation, and intuition in the decision-making process. It allows us to be more adaptable where planning is not practical. 

The idea here is to establish a holistic vision for an organization, rather than concrete goals. 

Unique and innovative strategic thinking which aligns with a company’s goals and vision will help them stay competitive. 

Read more: 3 Basic Principles of Strategic Thinking

Effective Leadership Requires Strategic Thinking

Great leaders do more than just managing people. 

They also:  

  • Practice forward-thinking 
  • Act as business strategists 
  • Are expectation managers 
  • Embrace connectivity

But the most important component of this means that they can create an environment which facilitates strategic thinking across the organization 

Dynamic organization — may need to be able to move resources in the name of mission and strategy

Effective leaders think about achievements and challenges strategically and in light of healthy competition. 

This might involve establishing and clarifying unique selling points, communicating these factors consistently, and understanding the strengths of the organization itself, including people. 

Strategic Thinking: 5 Ways to Get Everyone on Board 

1. Share Ideas  

In order to bring your organization to a place where everyone participates in strategic thinking, leaders need to communicate their vision consistently and clearly. 

You can see this vision as the target and the strategic planning as the steps to reach the target 

But remember the target is might be moving as a business is affected by various factors.   

2. Ask Questions 

Learn to ask the right questions in the face of conflicting data or opinions and let others examine the problem to gain new insights  

3. Stay Flexible 

Remain focussed on a clear vision but still flexible enough to employ strategic planning when needed, staying to a relatively linear set of steps. 

At the same time, remember that strategic thinking will help you keep your vision in mind, rather than focusing on a concrete set of “steps” to a singular goal. 

4. Think Outside of the “Data” Box 

Strategic thinking is about gathering information beyond hard data — this means beyond the management office and even beyond the organization itself. 

Get a clear understanding of how others in your industry are working and get outside insights when possible. 

5. Coach and Mentor Strategic Thinking 

Leaders will benefit from bringing their team on board with decision-making. 

This doesn’t mean you “hand over the reins” to them entirely. But allowing them to participate in a context that fits their role and responsibilities will allow them to feel a greater sense of purpose and loyalty in their day-to-day tasks, as well as building problem-solving skills. 

Read more: Why Employee Coaching Should Be Part of Your Management Strategy

Mastering Strategic Agility 

Strategic thinking leads to strategic agility—that is, the ability to plan strategically while still staying flexible enough to adapt when necessary. 

In order to master strategic agility, leaders need to learn everything they can to help guide the organization on a path of sustainable growth. 

They must remain flexible and curious while keeping one eye on a clear target, and be willing to make hard decisions in the interest of the long-term vision. 

Leaders and organizations must be willing to learn and grow in the wake of uncertainty, rather than being thrown off-course by unexpected events.  

Get Help With Strategic Planning 

Do you want to learn more about how to build sound strategy into your business, how to plan and how to stay agile through business twists and turns? 

If so, feel free to book an appointment with me so that we can get to know each other and see if we’re a good fit for working together. 

I look forward to learning more about you and your business! 

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

What Is Successful Management All About?
Change Leadership: How to Improve Your Adaptability
5 Faulty Management Ideas That Many Leaders Have

This article was originally published on January 4th, 2017, and has since been updated. 


  • Erika Brady says:

    Thanks for explaining that strategic planning is a step by step process with many different short term goals. My cousin was thinking about starting a private club this year and was wondering about how she can get everything planned out. I’ll let her know about strategic planning so that maybe she can find a service that is experienced with strategic planning when it comes to private clubs so she can make the right goals and steps.

    • Hi Erika. I can certainly assist if she wishes as I have assisted several startups and established businesses to survive and thrive in the marketplace. I use a specific system that has proven highly successful for my clients. She might want to pick the best book out there that very succinctly explains the process. The book is called, “Scaling Up,” here is the Canadian amazon link:

      Thank you for reaching out Erika.

      I am glad you are finding my blogs useful!

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734