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Strategic Thinking and how do I get it? 1st edition © 2016 Ruth B Mott & 3 .com ISBN 978-87-403-1470-0 Download free eBooks at bookboon.

Discover the truth at www. 360° thinking . STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Contents CONTENTS Author Biography 5 Introduction 7 1 Chapter 1 8 2 Agility 17 3 Strategic Alliances 23 4 Conclusion 28 References 29 360° thinking . 360° thinking . Deloitte & Touche LLP and affiliated Dis © Deloitte & Touche LLP and affiliated Discover the truth at Click on the ad to read more 4 . Discoverfree Download theeBooks truth © Deloitte & Touche LLP and affiliated entities.

As an Executive coach Ruth works with individuals and professionals dealing with the complex issues in the workplace. make better hiring decisions. she spent several years as an executive in the healthcare industry. Download free eBooks at bookboon. increase individual productivity. and teaching others how to do the same. Typical corporate projects included working with companies to align their teams to support their business objectives. Prior to becoming an executive coach. producer and director in public television. concise. Ruth has a multifaceted background. and an administrator. Ruth led a statewide committee through the development and passage of new healthcare legislation that ultimately affected every resident of the State.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Author Biography AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY Ruth Mott has been a successful consultant and Executive Coach for 16 years. In public television Ruth became an expert at designing and delivering 5 . and inspire and implement action and change. compelling messages.

On Facebook. Ruth can be contacted at 6 . It is available on Amazon. supporter of the arts. and her life has been enhanced greatly by her two grandchildren!! In 2012. Ruth is an avid non-profit organizations and an animal lover. a theater lover. and Twitter Download free eBooks at bookboon. Each chapter is one issue and contains a case study and a workbook. She has two children. Ruth authored a book entitled “I Love You – Now Get Over Yourself ” addressing the 7 most common issues her clients bought to her.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Author Biography In addition to enjoying her work.MottCoaching. LinkedIn.

if one can learn to be a Strategic Thinker. However. We know the story of Steve Jobs and Mac/Apple. When he was there. When they brought him back. Mac was on its way down. the i series was born. Apple would again be an industry leader. it is a skill that in many aspects can be learned. Mac was successful but stagnant. the professional. the level and depth of their decisions and actions will be far more creative and effective. but served and enhanced their lives. using tools and new techniques for approaching issues in the workplace can be a key element for success. and the generally interested. and while that may be true. But what they all have in common is one important thing: a way to think about the world of business and management. Thinking in a systematic way. Download free eBooks at bookboon. When he was fired. Jobs was the epitome of strategic thinkers in that he was focused on the future and believed that if he gave people something they didn’t even know they wanted. and some tools to help develop their ability to think strategically to accomplish their goals.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Introduction INTRODUCTION There are hundreds of “business” books for the student. Many believe that Strategic Thinking is something one is born with. and others are 7 . The content of this book is designed to help the reader explore the elements of Strategic Thinking. Many of them are excellent.

For example. Ability to change direction quickly. 2. companies. Download free eBooks at bookboon. Ability to outline the steps necessary to achieve the goal. In other words. Some people are just naturally so. Do we have the right people in house to develop and implement the strategic plan Strategic thinkers are focused on the future and have a vision for a desired outcome. That is. It requires clarity about What you want to change and Why you want to change it. will we need other people. Can we build a business plan. to have a vision for a better future. do we have flexibility to change direction quickly? 5. Some of the skills necessary to be an effective Strategic thinker are: 1. That is.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 1 CHAPTER 1 Strategic thinking is a process of thought for achieving a desired 8 . and effects of your approaches. Strategic thinking requires you to consider the elements. For example: Will we need to raise funds? Will we need additional human resources? 3. and to examine each with a critical. or departments to participate in this effort? 4. if something we thought was going to move us forward. but everyone has the potential to think strategically. Ability to ask the right questions in order to clarify the scope of the project. This is true whether the goal is to change a process. a particular way to think and act to successfully get what you want. The How to and Who is needed to achieve the goal. Ability to see the big picture. potential. or tell a compelling story illuminating the advantages the change? 6. honest eye. others need to learn those skills. instead is creating difficulty. Ability to develop strategic alliances. Ability to bring together the right people. becomes the Strategic Plan – a detailed blueprint for achieving the goal. There are skills one needs to develop to become a strategic thinker. or to change direction.

Operational effectiveness is a measure of how well and how efficiently a process is working. There are those who believe only certain professionals can be charged with the task of thinking strategically. modifications can be more easily made than if caught by surprise. by knowing what needs to happen. it allows more control over the process. Operational effectiveness is not a strategic 9 . A Strategic Plan is about what has to be done. and by whom.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 Figure 1 The truth is. And it must include continual feedback and evaluation as it moves along its time line. by when. Frankly. A Strategic Plan not only works specifically toward an outcome. That is. it is my contention that mothers are the best strategic thinkers. the strategic thinker says: “let’s count the pieces to be sure there are 500.” Let’s compare an outcome thought about by two families. The strategic thinker looks at a 500 piece puzzle. academic degrees notwithstanding! When a vision of the future is developed. and while others want to put the Puzzle together. we can all have some semblance of competence with some or all of these skills. Download free eBooks at bookboon. I don’t want to get to the end and find there are pieces missing. the process for achieving it is called a Strategic Plan.

g. then you start by writing down in the 12th month what the outcome is. but there is no way to predict it. Family B is also happy to be visiting such a magical place but they approached it differently. 1. they would be much shorter at the end of the day because most people. Merlin could see the future. They drive. The Merlin exercise starts in the future. they purchase their tickets – expensive tickets I might add – and they enter the park. Family B approached the event with a strategic plan. Before they started out. Family A is happy to be visiting such a magical place and decides to take in as much as they can in one day. he was able to advise the King of future events and the King could then develop his strategies for dealing with them before they happened. Then work backwards from there. and what was to have been a wonderful day turns into something of a nightmare. We can have a desired outcome. There are many 10 . They decided that after they parked and got their tickets. the children are cranky. By the end of the day. everyone is exhausted. Family A starts at the beginning of the park for each ride and each exhibit. Drive/park/ buy tickets/see as much as possible. We cannot see the future. the specific tasks associated with each month’s contribution are specified. This is the Strategic Plan. The premise is based on the legend of Merlin the Magician. something we want to see in the future. The lines are very long and the walking is difficult. If 12 months.. E. Strategic Planning Methods I’m going to stop here for the moment to talk about methods for using Strategic Thinking to develop a Strategic Plan. including Family A would start at the beginning of the park and work their way back. they park. Likewise. While the lines would be long. Based on his visions. they sat down with the children and asked them what specific rides and exhibits they wanted to see. The plan here was linear. they would start at the end of the park and work their way forward. It happens to be 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The next part of the process works from the beginning rather than the end.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 Example 1 Both families have 2 children and both have decided to go to a world famous amusement park. you produce a calendar with the extent of time you want the process to take. what has to happen in the 11th month to be assured that the 12th month’s outcome will be accomplished. If the outcome is to be realized within 12 months or even 12 days. Download free eBooks at bookboon. The Merlin Exercise is one of the most popular. what happens in the 10th and so on. and the appropriate people for completing the month’s work are assigned. After you have filled in the monthly outcomes necessary to achieve the final goal.

STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 As each month’s tasks are detailed. what do we do to either make it up or change direction? What am I prepared to do and what am I prepared to lose? Thus giving you more control over HOW the strategic plan is implemented. We cannot predict the 11 . but we can plan for it as consciously as possible. the questions become – What happens if we haven’t been able to reach the month’s goals. Figure 2 Download free eBooks at bookboon.

we are better prepared. By addressing the question What If. while a bit tired. The Black Swan Another approach is called The Black Swan. Research is conducted and papers are written based on the premise that all swans are white. and. The end of the day for Family B was decidedly more enjoyable than Family A. and all of them are white. One needs to be prepared for failure as well as success. The concept is to be aware. Then one day. they didn’t have to wait in lines that were hours long. They had seen most of what they intended. Figure 3 Now back to our 2 families. better able to cope and better able to re-direct our resources. for the improbable to happen. a black swan appears! By not preparing for the improbable – a swan of a different color – all efforts must now be modified. Then…! Download free eBooks at bookboon. while continuing to study white swans. as well as we can before the activity is undertaken and constantly asking it throughout the 12 .STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 2. It is highly improbable that there are swans of other colors. all over the world. were feeling quite content. as much as possible. Example: you have seen millions of swans.

STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 The Improbable Happened The power source for all the rides and exhibits had failed. Time to accomplish each task was included so progress could be measured. they worked backwards writing in each month’s desired outcome. in the 8th month. The sky started to darken and opened up with torrential rain. dates for feedback and meetings to determine if they were on the right paths or whether they would need to change direction. to secure the funds necessary to purchase some new pieces of machinery needed for increasing production. the month of the production launch. A Black Swan had entered. The group agreed to use the Merlin Exercise to develop the strategic plan. He examined all his options. Because they based everything going forward on attaining the needed funding. he called together those people who would develop the strategic plan. Starting at the 12th month. Then. they had to rethink it all. Would everything they had accomplished to that point now be irrelevant? Download free eBooks at bookboon. they outlined the steps necessary to achieve defined goals. Nothing was working. One crucial element of the plan was. believed he needed to expand the company’s production by 30% within a year. But others believed that the partners in this endeavor were solid and it was highly unlikely to be a problem. He wanted the plan in 30 days. safe place to replenish (the restaurants were still functioning) to wait out the power glitch as well as the storm! Example 2 Let’s bring these concepts into the business world. a widget-making company. Feeling certain then. Well Family B’s 13 . She led them to a dry. working forward. He looked at the rate of growth of his competitors as well as his company’s market share. The forecast had been sunny skies! So now Family A is distressed as well as soaked. did think that a Black Swan – the improbable – could happen and noted every restaurant within every area they visited. In the 7th month two of the funders went bankrupt. Someone raised the possibility of not being able to raise the funds and the wisdom of having an alternative outcome just in case. looked at the finances and talked with others in the organization. But Family B? Earlier I said mothers are the most natural strategic thinkers. He determined that 30% was the right figure. tasks assigned to particular individuals or groups. The CEO of Company X.

Define your goal and remember to think of the larger picture. By doing Click on the ad to read more 14 . can you? Can you build a plan showing the advantages of your desired outcome and how it benefits everyone or mostly everyone? 0845 606 9069 raf. What do you want and why? What questions do you have to ask yourself and others.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 It had a happy ending because the person who raised the possibility of a Black Swan – a strategic thinker – had a solution. you are more likely to get your desired outcome if you think strategically. a new home.mod. He suggested they look at changing the widget Download free eBooks at bookboon. or the like. they did not need to replace a very expensive piece of equipment. Please note: This approach was a very creative one to solve the problem and changed all the activity going forward (See figure 2). How Does It Relate to Me? If you want a promotion. if appropriate? Who else needs to be involved. friend or foe? If you have to change direction. a raise. 3. without harming its usefulness.

Download free eBooks at bookboon.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 Figure 4 Write down what outcome you would like to achieve for yourself in the next 6 months or any time frame you like. The following page is a worksheet for you to begin building and using your strategic thinking abilities to design a strategic 15 . Then go through the list of skills and write your strategic plan.

STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Chapter 1 Worksheet Download free eBooks at 16 .

For example. professional dancers must be physically agile to perform complicated choreography. Ability to think and draw conclusions quickly. mental agility is a significant factor in successful Strategic Thinking. The important message in this chapter is that there are several different scenarios in which being agile applies. An agile mind is an open mind. and mental agility. and stretch. Ability to solve new and unfamiliar problems quickly. Indeed. dexterity. Figure 5 Physical Agility Physical agility refers to having a flexible body. Namely: physical agility.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Agility 2 AGILITY Agility: Nimbleness. strength. I would add one more element to the definition. Mental agility is necessary for both physical and business agility as well as a skill in its own right. having control over muscles. Download free eBooks at bookboon. The above statement is the dictionary’s explanation of what agility means. business/organizational 17 .

reading the play. For example. and change direction in split seconds. Figure 6 Download free eBooks at bookboon. the greatest hockey players possess mental agility. remember the timing. Mentally. Skating madly. they have to remember the moves. Wayne Gretsky. That’s physical and mental agility! Mental agility is the ability to think quickly. changing direction (and scoring) all in spit seconds. getting the puck. like where the end of the stage is! Same in professional sports. He was able to read the opposing team’s next move and place himself where he believed the puck was going to be. and execute quickly. and how they make it all seem so effortless. is considered one of the greatest of all time. In addition. and be aware of their surroundings. stop instantly. hockey players have to skate at full speed. make a decision quickly. then you know what physical agility looks like. a retired professional hockey player (New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings). placing himself where the puck would be.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Agility If you have seen a dance performance and marvel at the ease and grace of the 18 .

and created an agile culture by instilling a shared sense of purpose. the company suffered greatly from 1) rapid and disastrous devalued share prices. In 1989. Mobil Oil (a Strategic Alliance. and he merged Exxon with a competitor.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Agility Business/Organizational Agility “Today when every industry faces turbulent change as a matter o course. Worley and Lawler III) A large corporation. a new CEO was hired. by its nature. and 3) their arrogance about its responsibility for the spill and its affect on the environment. the leadership has to believe that its workers have valuable ideas that contribute to the company’s success. can’t be as agile as a small company in changing direction 19 . agility has to be built into the culture.” (The Agility Factor. That is. So while it took a few years to turn things around. one of the major elements was the CEO’s strategic thinking and open mindedness. which led to the creation of an agile culture within the organization. he increased efficiency. the subject of Chapter 3). In such organizations. He also put himself out in front of the public and took responsibility for the awful results of that spill. Williams. after a catastrophic oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound . He turned the company around within 2 years. When it became clear that the company was in danger of failing. He dropped the businesses and markets that weren’t doing well. 2) losing market share significantly. Exxon is now number 2 on the list of Fortune 100 companies. agility becomes the difference between sustaining performance and falling behind. Download free eBooks at bookboon. An example of how agility turned a large corporation around is the story of Exxon.

STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Agility Figure 7 “Agility is strategically relevant. Download free eBooks at bookboon.” (The Agility 20 . Williams. Worley. our widget company needed to act quickly once the decision was made to change the widget design in the 8th month. and Lawler III) In Chapter 1.

new designs had to be drawn and produced. and a new roll-out date had to be met within a one month’s extension – more easily accomplished than Exxon’s turnaround. math problems. and the like. balancing. lifting. our brains need to be exercised as well. Fundamental to agility and strategic thinking is to question the underlying assumption. Download free eBooks at bookboon. That is. agile. because of its smaller size. riddles. In our widget-making firm. help train our brains to think creatively. all help us to be more limber. the engineer who suggested redesigning the widget instead of finding new funders. or we simply overcome an obstacle that has been put in our path unexpectedly. is an example of questioning the assumption. How agile we are decides the outcome. agile thinking is required every time a plan is changed at the last minute. He questioned Exxon’s underlying assumption that more is better. Stretching. And stronger. or we jump in to save an accident from happening. Improving Agility We all know that improving our physical agility requires physical exercising. Figure 8 In life. In the Exxon’s story. Deliberately attempting to solve puzzles. the CEO jettisoned some of the businesses where they were not making an impact. dancing. Agility of mind requires the same thing. design 21 .STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Agility New permissions had to be obtained quickly.

some in one or 22 . physical and mental.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Agility In a lighter perspective. After all. write your thoughts about your experience and grade yourself on how well you did. and quick thinking. Some people are able to be agile in all areas. Figure 9 The following page is a work sheet with some suggested activities to help sharpen your own agility. Download free eBooks at bookboon. After you have finished an activity. wouldn’t we like to have the agility. Maybe that’s why we like them so much. But we can all be better in any of them. every super-hero is a master at agile thinking. of James Bond! (Not to mention the fabulous automobile!) Agility of mind is the ability to be creative. open minded.

It’s important to understand that a strategic alliance is not a merger. A merger is when two companies become one. That is. In most 23 .STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Strategic Alliances 3 STRATEGIC ALLIANCES Strategic Alliances allow businesses and individuals to achieve an objective that otherwise could not be realized alone. small business alliances. There are big business alliances. but each company remains independent. There are many configurations of Strategic alliances such as full partnerships where the investment is equal and the profits are shared. Figure 10 Download free eBooks at bookboon. one company “acquires” the other. Or the creation of a new company forged by two or more organizations coming together for a specific purpose. and even personal alliances. Usually. one company buys the other. Strategic alliances come in all sizes and shapes. a strategic alliance is when one or more companies come together to create a new product or technology.

STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Strategic Alliances It is also important to know not all alliances are friendly! In Some cases the alliance is achieved grudgingly. Each one wanted to influence the other’s market. October Click on the ad to read more 24 . After a decade of insults and lack of success. more corporate rival. For example Apple and IBM. they decided to join Download free eBooks at bookboon. 2014) Apple had its own and proprietary operating system which it kept for use only on Apple products. “Apple’s relationship with IBM in the early days of the 1980s was often that of a brash young upstart doing battle with the established. IBM had the heaviest market share of enterprise-wide computing. developed an IOS exclusively for IBM users. IBM worked with Apple to give the latter’s consumer’s access to enterprise systems and Apple in turn. Unlock your potential eLibrary solutions from bookboon is the key eLibrary Interested in how we can help you? email ban@bookboon. Apple attempted to break into IBMs market with negative advertising calling IBM “Big Brother” and other more personal unflattering comments.“ (The New Economy.

and back to the heyday of Walt Disney himself. the company’s first successful product was an audio oscillator purchased by Disney to certify the Fantasound system installed in theaters for its 1940 film Fantasia. Formed in a garage by the eponymous co-founders. Two well-known examples of 25 . friendly alliances are Starbucks with Barnes and Noble and Hewlett Packard with Disney. but it allowed Microsoft to move in and fill the space. Later. Microsoft. The best Strategic Thinkers are willing to look at alliances with both friendly and sometimes not so friendly partners and see their mutual benefit for expanding markets. but the knowledge that together they can create something that will benefit them and therefore the organization is greater than their adversarial relationship. and B&N customers are staying in the stores longer with a cup of coffee and a good book that they then buy! Win/win! Hewlett-Packard and Disney “This partnership goes all the way back to the beginning of Hewlett-Packard (HP) itself. developing new technologies and products. BLOG.” (3rd Eagle Consulting. and Apple formed yet another alliance. Feb 17.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Strategic Alliances The contentiousness not only didn’t work for either one.2013) And then we have what I call in-house alliances. HP helped to develop the Disney World ride Mission: Space. Various departments joining together to accomplish something none of them could achieve alone. Starbucks and Barnes & Noble By putting Starbucks in B&N stores. They could be friendly or competitive. the coffee chain accessed a consumer group it hadn’t been able to coral. IBM. Download free eBooks at bookboon.

com 26 .STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Strategic Alliances Figure 11 Download free eBooks at bookboon.

professional or personal. is in your best interest. Worksheet Download free eBooks at 27 .STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Strategic Alliances The following worksheet is designed to help you determine if a strategic alliance. Answer the three questions as completely and honestly as possible.

then you can become a better Strategic Thinker. can be 28 . and likely future changes that will impact the organization – and your role in particular. in many respects. or in some cases. helps assure the success of the plan. Strategic thinking looks at the world in the future first. or as straightforward as asking for a raise. and who is best to explain that benefit to the “ally”. not only enlarges your own perspective. The linear thinker. Thinking strategically in this case. asking for that raise may be best done by thinking about the elements of importance to the supervisor who grants raises. If the techniques and exercises in the former chapters are practiced. changes in your responsibilities. the strategic plan is the blueprint for achieving that vision. In business for example. The plan must have a built in ability to change direction if necessary – Agility (Chapter 2). Strategic Thinking is the foundation of a strategic plan. knowing who might benefit from the change you are contemplating. the plan will fall apart. By thinking in terms of the future – what we want and what is necessary to achieve it – we are able to put in motion the actions that will deliver the desired outcome. unlikely allies. While many believe that strategic thinking is an intellectual gift. Without it. While strategic thinking is the “vision”. It requires that we think ahead and ask “what if…” before the action is taken. as the plan is being developed is a very important ingredient for a successful outcome – (Chapter 3). In our personal lives. or a “Black Swan”. when the process hits a bump. The vision can be as complicated and complex as changing a core product or process. Identifying likely allies. Making a good business case for why you deserve a raise might include a document listing your contributions. looks first at the present and then defines the goal. it is also a skill and. Download free eBooks at bookboon. and then assesses the present. whether the bump is a small one with minimal consequences. A blueprint forward in either scenario assures (as much as possible) that the vision is realized. but allows others to see your talents and contributions in a more holistic way rather than as a worker in a department.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? Conclusion 4 CONCLUSION Strategic Thinking is a necessary component of successful business activity. which describes most of us.

com.theneweconomy. 12. Thomas. 6. Retrieved from 2. October 27. Retrieved from http://www. Sharma. Second Edition) The Black Swan 4. Nassim Nicholas. No.strategybusiness. Fulmer. Retrieved from http://www. The Merlin Exercise: Future by Forecast or Future by Invention? Journal of Management Development Download free eBooks at bookboon. Agility in the Workplace. and Lawler. 2013. Christopher G.wordpress. (Random House 2010. 2014 5.STRATEGIC THINKING AND HOW DO I GET IT? References REFERENCES 1. The Agility April 15. Taleb. 1993 Edward G III.6. Nitin D. Robert M. (September 29 . 2014) The New Economy. Worley. In bed with Big Brother: Apple and IBM Form Strategic Alliance. Williams.