Thinking Strategically

When I was young, my parents used to get me to various museums, theaters, archeological grounds in Greece, exploring the real places the history have been written. Since then, my love for history and strategy has grown, let me consumed vast volumes of historical, autobiographical, philosophical and strategical oriented texts of the past, trying to find more reasons and causes for the how’s and the what’s that have become self-evidence in our days.

Thinking Strategically

One of my favorite places to go was the National Archaeological Museum of Athens where you could see all the exhibits from the older eras and more importantly to me, information and maps on the great battles of the past. It was as if I was there and I could see the “big picture” of a battle or of a conflict along to the mechanics, the ploys and the schemes lead to this or that result.

It was fascinating, that you could enter in such a “time machine” and review what’s went wrong (or how the things ended up so great)!

In  my eyes, the power to overseen and handle effectively (i.e. in a pre-defined mode) such events (or any event in your life) seemed as something of a magic. I think, that this was the time when my interest in strategy grew and became a constant parameter in my thinking patterns.

What Strategy Is?

There is not an easy answer to the question of: “what strategy is?”. Let alone to the analogous question: “how to think strategically?”.

Both questions are open to each one interpretations (according to  his/her knowledge and experience) and are used differently from different people.

via GIPHY

A generic definition for strategy states that strategy is:

a (1) : the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war (2) : the science and art of military command exercised to meet the enemy in combat under advantageous conditions
b : a variety of or instance of the use of strategy
2 a : a careful plan or method : a clever stratagem
b : the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal
3: an adaptation or complex of adaptations (as of behavior, metabolism, or structure) that serves or appears to serve an important function in achieving evolutionary success <foraging strategies of insects> (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

All these definitions, though, are quite generic to provide a solid base of reference to someone would like to exploit strategy for reaching his/her goals or implement the necessary activities for fulfilling his/her mission either at a personal level or at a business level or, usually, at both.

Usually, on the daily level, you need more flexible tools to help you do your job better. To say it more simple you don’t just need the benefits of thinking strategically in a personal,  easily manageable, level, but the process that would help you to decide and produce the required results in a certain situation.

Why Strategy?

When you are involving in deep thinking or higher order activities as the strategy is (or should be) there are no easy answers. Let alone there are not easy definitions, of the ones we can usually use as we like it and be happy about it.

Usually the notion of strategy:

is a concept that most people find it an essential component (or tool) in the arsenal of every modern person (either for business, professional or for personal use) but rarely get into the trouble of define it or use it correctly.(Takis Athanassiou: What Exactly Strategy Is? (And What It Is Not!))

Strategy is an essential component of today’s activities (either at the personal level, or in the business or at the social one) providing a framework of thought which can permit you to plan better certain things, to prescribe more accurate the final outcome of an activity and to direct more effectively your resources towards the achievement of your objectives.

Usually, a strategy is misinterpreted for tactics but, here, it is essential to have a clear distinction between the two of them. The strategy is something more generic while tactics are the activities which will lead you to achieve the goals the strategy prescribes.

But the strategy is not an academic principle. Not at all! It is a discipline and a way of thought able to provide you multiple beneficial results, only if you:

  • commit to its implementation every day,
  • cultivate its habitual usage in every situation and not only to the difficult ones,
  • calculate the pros and cons of each way of action, in every event you may encounter and define which way is the best for your goals,
  • own it as thinking practice and a daily practice, and
  • expand its applicability, pushing further its boundaries and its limitations and magnifying its scope

There are no shortcuts and, as everything worth in life, the strategy needs a lot of work before the thinking strategically can yield its many results in your life and business.

Thinking Strategically

Thinking strategically is not easy as well. It is a discipline, everyone wanted to execute, act on it, claim it, but only few can master it in a way can be beneficial to themselves and to the people around them.

The strategy is based (or should be based) on solid theoretical foundations and should be rooted firmly in your experience, knowledge, skills as well as to your vision, your core principles, your mindset, your belief and your limitations.

The theory is excellent, experience valuable but thinking strategically it usually means a healthy distance from the specific, usually, pressing problem at hand and a cool thinking, along to an intentional and conscious activity for solving the specific problem.

There shouldn’t be just thinking without action, not action without clear thinking. Part of the magic of thinking strategically is to be able to pro-act rather than react to the situations you have to handle.

That’s why thinking strategically, usually, means to:

  • be the owner of your actions and of their results and remain strong in order to look after their completion
  • focus on what’s important and leave behind, omit or delegate what is not
  • be fully aware of your “why” (why you do what you do and to what end) and your mission (what exactly you are here for) despite the problems may arise in your course of life.
  • aim at the achievement of a specific goal or outcome
  • calculate all the involved parameters in a situation and select the ones are most suitable to your objectives
  • act in a “whole” way, employ all the available resources or develop new ones to bring about the necessary results you want to furnish
  • combine theory, experience, skills and action to a unique, consistent workflow
  • dedicated all your available resources to the achievement of the result you want to produce in the world
  • provide the right to yourself to make errors and to experiment a lot
  • give yourself the time, the place and the distance to help you see the things with clarity
  • have the time to explore all the necessary parameters and find the best way to employ your action plans
  • be intentional and willing to make a difference
  • have the ability (or luxury) to say no more times than yes
  • think all the necessary parameters in a way you become a proactive rather than a reactive person
  • check the “whole picture” of a situation or event
  • prepare for various contingency scenarios may impact your course of life or influence your visions and goals
  • think not just for yourself but for larger audience and recipients of the effects of your actions.
  • aim at bringing significant changes that will benefit and influence a lot of people

To master, all the different situations, though, you may encounter in your life needs more of all a clear goal and a way of achieving it. And that it is what thinking strategically offers!

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    Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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