Strategic Thinking: what it is and how to do it


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  • Hello everyone and greetings from Australia. I’m Maree Conway, owner of Thinking Futures, and welcome to this webinar on Strategic Thinking: what it is and how to do it.Today’s presentation aims to help you understand what strategic thinking is, in the context of strategy development and strategic planning, and how to go about doing it for yourself in your work. Before we start, some housekeeping. The slides and a recording of the webinar will be available in a couple of days and I’ll email you when they’re ready to download.Keep an eye on the chat box in your control panel – I may send you a message there if I need to.You can ask questions by raising your hand by clicking on the hand icon, or writing the question in the question box in your control panel. If I can do it, I’ll answer questions as we go, otherwise, there will be time at the end.The presentation goes for about 40-45 minutes, depending on how fast I talk!The webinar is an overview, and doesn’t go into all that much detail. Feel free to get in touch with me after the webinar if you have any questions, or need some more information. 
  • This is me presenting in real life – just so you know what I look like. Note that I do talk with my hands, so imagine me sitting in front of my computer waving my hands around as we go through the session – or not as you prefer!
  • There’s a variety of industries represented here, which is fine because the content is generic and not industry specific. It’s a sign that strategic thinking is a capacity needed for people working in all industries.
  • Today we will talk about:Strategic thinking and why we need to do itand where it fits in the strategy development and implementation cycleSome tools for strategic thinking – this will be an overview only, and happy to take questions to provide more detail about the particular things you are interested in either during the webinar or afterwardsAnd going back to work after the webinar – how you can start to use what we’ve talked about in your workplace.
  • UNMUTE if less than 25 people online…Okay, what’s your definition of strategic thinking?Just write some words in your questions panel, and I’ll let the group know what they are.I’ll try something new today and copy and paste your responses into the next slide – not sure if that will work, but we’ll give it a go.
  • Now this might not work, but we’ll see how we go….
  • Here are a couple of definitions from the literature.Both focus on two things: the individual thinking about the future. Because as you’ll see later – strategy is about the future.Two other important points. One, thinking about the future does not discount the past and present, but it does require you to move beyond the status quo.And two is the need to remember that the future now always mean change, and that includes changing ourselves and how we approach that future.
  • My definition has four parts
  • That’s better informed decisions to deal with the uncertainty of the future.So the ultimate outcome of strategic thinking is better decisions today.
  • Strategic thinking informs the development of strategy.Strategy is about the future.Strategic Thinking is thinking about the future.
  • So for me, building a strategic thinking capacity means that you are building a strategic foresight capacity.
  • I’ll mostly use strategic thinking in this webinar but for me, that term is inextricably connected with strategic foresight.
  • Knowing how to do strategic thinking is the difference between a sadly overwhelmed brain, unable to cope with the issues and decisions that need to be made for an organisation, and
  • …a futures ready strategy that will take the organisation into a successful future.
  • There’s a spectrum for organisations and how they approach strategic thinking today.Many are traditional and use traditional approaches to strategy – you know, the boss makes all the decisions and everyone else has to like it or lump it, or leave. This approach is introspective, focusing on the organisation and its history and where one or two people think they know all the answers.Some recognise that the world is changing rapidly around them, and are making an effort to change how strategy is developed – they tend to just make tweaks around the edges, and nothing really changes. These places are starting to look outwards but don’t really know how to combine the external with the internal, to integrate both into a more holistic strategy development process.And some understand the need for their strategy to be futures ready, and start externally to understand – in a very deep and considered way – how the environment into which they need to ‘fit’ or position themselves is changing. They take their lead for strategy from the outside, and then work to adapt the internal parts of the organisation to match.Of course, the real situation is much more nuanced than this, but I’m sure you get the point.Usually, the difference among the three types is the time and resources they commit to strategic thinking.
  • Strategic thinking is a discrete step in the strategy development process. Strategic Thinking is NOT strategic planning.
  • Strategic thinking and planning have different assumptions underpinning them. There are some fundamental differences.
  • And there are different purposes and thought processes. The two are very different in this respect.
  • Strategic thinking is about synthesis; it is generally intuitive and attempts to go beyond what logical thinking can inform. Because information about potential futures is always incomplete, the thinking required for success in this activity needs to be “synthetical”, not analytical and deductive. Strategic thinking is concerned with exploration (usually based on limited and patchy information) and options, not the steps needed for implementation of actions, which is the realm of strategic planning.So strategic thinking needs a particular mindset and capacity to move beyond the linear – it needs open minds, and you have to be comfortable working with ambiguity. You have to be willing to have what you believe to be true about the world and how your organisation operates to be challenged, and you have to be open to listening to diverse and conflicting perspectives to your own.Even though there is much written to the contrary, many of our organisations still have a command and control mentality, which mitigates against effective strategic thinking. Command and control is about certainty, whereas the future is all about uncertainty. If you manage in a command and control organisation, uncertainty is usually frowned upon.
  • On the other hand, strategic planning is about analysis—the breaking down of a goal into steps, designing how the steps may be implemented, estimating the anticipated consequences of each step, and measuring the manner by which progress is being made – which are documented in a plan. So this is a planned, programmed activity requiring thinking which is strongly analytical, logical and deductive, in order to ensure that things stay “on track.” It fits command and control organisations very well.Strategic planning on the other hand, requires a very different mindset compared to strategic thinking. Yet this is the space in which we spend a great deal of time today when we talk about strategy.In brief, as a process, strategic thinking is about exploring options; strategy development is about making decisions and setting directions, and strategic planning is about implementing actions. All three are needed and vitally necessary for successfully confronting the strategic environment.
  • Right now we talk about strategy, but we are usually referring to planning.We focus on producing a plan as the end product, rather than on the process that creates the preferred future – the strategic destination.We need an equal or stronger focus on building the strategic thinking capability of our people.
  • These sorts of diagrams abound when we look at strategic planning.Current strategy processes tend to focus on the plan as the major outcome, rather than a shared understanding of your organisation’s preferred future to inform action today.Right now we talk about strategy, but we are usually referring to planning.We focus on producing a plan as the end product, rather than on the thinking process that creates the preferred future – the strategic destination.We need an equal or stronger focus on building the strategic thinking capability of our people.
  • Often lack the flexibility to deal with unexpected changes in the external environment – because the focus was on implementation not watching for changes that might affect the strategy.
  • Usually don’t include any processes for systematically exploring the long term future of the organisation – they usually only go out 3-5 years.
  • Tend to rely heavily on quantitative data, suggesting a single outcome, and often dismiss validity of qualitative data, particularly what’s in people’s heads.
  • Miss potential innovation and strategic options, and don’t see risks coming, because they don’t challenge organisational assumptions and ideologies about doing business now and into the future.Ignore the opportunity to spend some time in the future to test whether what they do today will be relevant in that future.
  • And, they usually don’t include any systematic processes for listening to the views of staff, before a plan is written.
  • Strategic planning as single-loop learning (when plans and outcomes match, or when mismatches are corrected by changing action, rather than examining the underpinning variables and assumptions of that action) and strategic thinking to double-loop learning (where variables and assumptions are challenged before action is changed).
  • My earlier point – we assume that only senior managers can think strategically – which means you have to be ‘senior’ to be smart enough to set strategy.I’m doing work with a university here in Australia at the moment, and my experience there – as it is at every university I work with – is that the staff are more in tune with the strategy than those smart senior managers.They know the core of the strategy, they know what makes a difference and what makes the university unique, and their biggest fear is that changes in strategy will mean those really fundamental strategic advantages will be lost. The views of staff matter – and need to be heeded from the beginning of the process.
  • And what we have done by this focus on the plan AS strategy is to create an orphan out of strategic thinking. We plan without thinking, and we end up here:
  • We are trying to avoid this situation.Current planning processes often seem like busy work and the conventional view of planning tends to result in more of the same rather than an innovative plan focused on dealing with the challenges future.We have to remember that:No plan survives contact with the future...unless the future drives the plan. And the way to ensure that the future drives the plan is to do strategic thinking first.
  • Richard Slaughter talks about three levels of foresight work – pragmatic, progressive and civilisational.What we call strategic planning now is in the pragmatic realm – where we try to improve how we do things, but we don’t challenge what we do. We are planning for more of the same.
  • So, I’m interested in seeing how we can move beyond strategic planning to strategy development and implementation that is in the progressive realm where, we:Seek to find new ways of doing businessExplore new optionsAnd aim to take account of the global environment and how we contribute to global sustainability as well as the sustainability of our organisation.
  • To make this shift, we have to focus on the quality of our strategic thinking – otherwise, how will we generate new ideas and ways of working that will be robust into the future?
  • Remember our friend Einstein who pointed out very succinctly that:We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.And yet we try and try and try to do this every day.
  • If you don’t think strategically, you are reacting to the future. In this slide you can see both a reactive and proactive approach to the future – they both end up with the same question: what will we do, but one is asking the question after the event, while the other asks the question in anticipation of the event.
  • So, easy enough for me to say you need to think strategically – how do we get started?
  • Traditional approaches tend to focus on the processes above the line – scanning and planning.This external realm of strategy is important, but it’s only part of the process. We can’t ignore the internal realm that is an essential part – what is in the heads, minds and hearts of the participants in a strategy process, and what sorts of alternative futures they can imagine and envision. We all hold our own views of the future in our heads, and strategic thinking processes are designed to take them out of your brain to share with other people in your group. If you go straight from looking at drivers to planning, you are creating strategy that has a context based on what we know about the present, rather than a future context, where possible outcomes of those drivers over time have been explored.And if you create strategy without taking notice of the internal parts, you will create strategy that is unlikely to withstand contact with the future.
  • Strategic thinking is about integrating the future into your decision making processes by thinking big, deep and long.
  • Big – do we understand how we connect and interact with other organisations and the external environment? Do we think beyond our jobs, our organisations and our countries, or do we think in silos?Thinking Big Forces your attention on:the external environment to understand the impact of change,on connections and interdependencies,on aligning internal capacity with reality of a constantly changing external environment,on identifying strategy that will ensure viability of your organisations into the future, andIt’s about the big picture.
  • The big picture view is critical if you are going to improve the quality of your strategic thinking.Escape the confines and constraints of day-to-day thinking to take a much more holistic view of what is going on.
  • Thinking deep takes two forms – one, thinking deep in terms of understanding your worldview, your way of seeing the world, your assumptions about how business happens and how you operate today,and two, digging beneath the surface of an issue facing your organisation and challenging assumptions underpinning that issue.
  • In both cases, challenging assumptions is critical.Our minds are habitual, pattern recognition machines, and we make decisions based on our assumptions about how the world operates. But what our assumptions often do is encase us in the past, and prevent us from seeing the need to change, and from seeing new options available to us. We must always ask - are our assumptions today valid into the future?
  • Assumptions underpin your worldview.Your worldview constrains how you make meaning of the world, and it shapes what you believe to be true.Sometimes caused a mental model – a simplification of reality, intended to help us deal with complexity. But mental models are in fact straight jackets – shaping our perceptions and limiting what you believe to be possible and true. They place invisible and impenetrable boundaries on our thinking which you can only change if you challenge those mental models in very overt ways.The Power to Lead, Gregg Thompson and BrunaMartinuzzi, Select Books, 2009
  • What being aware of your worldview and how you make meaning from the world allows you to do is to recognise your blindspots.Blindspots cause you to both miss information that might be important in working out what’s coming, and to reject information that doesn’t fit your worldview.
  • What then happens is that you smack up against assumption walls – brick walls in your thinking that you won’t or can’t climb – until you change the way you think.You usually know when you’ve hit an assumption wall when you hear yourself saying ‘that’s rubbish’ or words to that effect. Or you want to push back against what is being said and who is saying it.When that happens, ask yourself why?What would have to happen for you to accept this as real? Test your reaction with someone you trust – is my way of thinking valid?And just ask, is what I believe to be true the only way of seeing this issue?
  • So it’s not about thinking outside the box, but thinking outside your beliefs.Otherwise your mind is essentially closed to the future – and this is what causes people to lock in on a strategy and not look more broadly for what is really happening.
  • And recognise the blinders that create and maintain those blindspots.EXPLAINThese are dangerous elements for a strategic thinker to have.It’s more than thinking outside the box, you need to be thinking outside your beliefs
  • Long – how far into the future are we looking? Do we understand the shape of alternative futures for our organisation?Are you just assuming that the future will be more of the present?Have you engaged with the complexity and uncertainty that surrounds the future, or are you trying to ignore it?
  • This and the next couple of slides demonstrate the importance of thinking ‘long’.Our usual planning timeframe is 3-5 years. We look at trends and then plan for what is called a linear future – the one we assume to be true, based on how we view the world today.
  • Thinking long lets us recognise the range of possible futures to explore – when we think beyond three to five years, (CHANGE SLIDE) we recognise that trends have may possible outcomes and assuming a linear trajectory is a flawed approach.
  • And, we must always remember wildcards.Low probability, high impact events that have the potential to change the world overnight.They can totally dis-rail trend trajectories because they change the world rapidly, and it takes time to react to them.It’s worth building in wildcards to your scanning system so that you have explored potential discontinuities to your organisation and its work.I've been following this discussion at a distance, and am surprised that no-one's mentioned ElinaHitunen's hypothesis that a wild card is actually about the speed of change that it provokes. This is a section from her JFS article, ("Was It a Wild Card or Just Our Blindness to Gradual Change?"), which reviewed the wild card literature::"The key issue, when considering wild cards and other changes, is the rapidity ofthe changes and, according to that, the time to react to them. In order to take thesedynamics into account, changes can be divided into two categories: wild card type ofchanges and gradual changes. Both of these types are similar to S-curve type ofchanges that for example Molitor (2003) and Dator (1996, 2005) have discussed earlierin connection with emerging issues. The difference of these two types of changes isthe speed of the change (i.e. the slope of the S-curve).In the case of wild cards there is only little time to react to the change before ittakes place. In contrast to gradual changes, it is possible to anticipate them well inadvance. It is understood that this division much resembles the division of discontinuitiesinto categories of abrupt and gradual discontinuities described by van Notten etal. (2005). Although these authors do not use the term wild card in this sense, Iassume that their "abrupt discontinuity" is very similar to wild cards while "gradualdiscontinuity" (or transition as they also refer to it) has some elements of the termgradual change that I use."Whole article here:
  • The world out there that we are trying to understand looks like this….
  • You are probably stuck in your habitual mode of thinking – we all are. Thinking styles become automatic over the years, and because for the most part they work well for us, we have no incentive to change them. But when your thinking patterns limit your ability to respond proactively to the future, it is time to challenge old habits.
  • And this means thinking beyond the status quo, beyond business as usual, because if you don’t this is how you will look
  • This is the ‘where did that come from?’ or the ‘no one saw that coming’ look.If you look and feel like this, you need to start thinking strategically.
  • So, an overview now of some tools you can use for strategic thinking.
  • Provides the raw information to inform your thinking about what’s happening in the external environment today AND how it will evolve into the future.Never kid yourself that your thinking is strong enough to not need informing. Every organisation needs to scan systematically and on a continuing basis to understand what’s coming and to recognise the early warning signals of change.
  • What you want to try to avoid by having a broad scanning arena is having to duck when a trend hits you without notice. It will take longer to recover if you have to duck than if you had seen the shift in the trend happening because you were scanning the environment on an ongoing basis and using that information to inform your strategy development.
  • I use Shaping Tomorrow to manage my environmental scanning hits, and I always start any foresight project there to see what others think is important. I enter my hits there and share them with other members. I’ve tried many other ways of managing my scanning, and ST works best for me. It’s a bit like a one stop shop – it allows me to enter scanning hits, create reports and then begin to develop action plans.
  • Analysis is about working out what’s relevant and important for your organisation. What really matters?Trend analysis and emerging issues analysis explore the strength and relevance of trends for your organisation.
  • This level is about system dynamics – and about meaning.Assumption walls pop up here – what a trend means to one person will be different to another. Aim to build a shared view of the shape of the future for your organisation.
  • Scenario planning is a way to challenge our thinking about linear futuresVisioning helps us to create an image of a future destination and to start to operationalise that in our strategic planning.Backcasting is a process where we start in our preferred future destination and work backwards
  • At this level it is useful to understand the different types of futures that we can explore.Traditional strategy processes focus on the probable future.But it needs to be about about plausible futures – because you have to be able to implement them, BUT you need to look at all possible futures first.
  • Remember that scanning informs thinking which is followed by some decision making and planning.You have to spend time in the thinking space to make wise decisions and develop robust plans.
  • The mantra of our age is “I’m so busy”. Being busy is the enemy of strategic thinking usually because thinking on its own has no tangible outcome. And when you take time out to think, you are probably thinking about the emails and work piling up on your desk.Yet, to be proactive we have to have developed an understanding of what’s coming so we can prepare to respond – that’s what proactive means. If we don’t take the time out to think, we will always be reactive.So we have to move beyond busy.
  • We get caught up in our jobs, and as Mintzberg says here, the pressures of our job move us to superficial behaviour.
  • We are losing the capacity to think about the future because we are wrapped up in the present. If we don’t spend the time to dream ideas into existence, we will remain trapped in our habituated work, and the future will hit us in the face.
  • It’s not a leader’s job to be busy. It’s a leader’s job to be strategic. And that means spending time thinking. Thinking is work too.
  • One of your challenges is to find the time to think strategically – we are all so busy that we get caught up in the here and now and dismiss any time out of the office as unproductive.But…thinking is work too.So just as we schedule planning workshops, we have to schedule time for strategic thinking.
  • Your strategic thinking has to be informed by high quality environmental scanning – so scan often, and scan well.
  • Hold a thinking workshop before you hold a planning workshop, and explore the issues you have identified in your scanning, and what they mean for your organisation. How would you respond?Invite participation in a range of ways from staff and stakeholders. Seek the widest possible diversity to help you strengthen the decisions you make about your preferred future.
  • Think long term before we act today.Think strategically before we do strategic planning.
  • What we are trying to do is to shift the thinking about the future we all do on an individual basis to a shared basis.The aim is to move that thinking from unconscious, implicit and solitary – that is, done by an individual – to conscious, explicit and collective – an organisational capability.
  • Building a strategic foresight capacity takes time and it starts with the individual.It’s about shifting the beliefs that hold you back from recognising the nature of future; then demonstrating your strategic thinking in practice until there is a critical mass of staff who can create new models. At this stage you are building an organisational foresight capacity, and there will be new processes in place for strategy development.
  • Remember, you can try to ignore the future by being really busy today, and you can stick within your comfort zones, but when the future bites in the proverbial, you only have yourself to blame.
  • For me, this would be a preferred look – rather than ignoring the future and reacting to whatever hits us in the face. Here, we are ready for the future. Yes, probably utopia, but I can always dream!
  • Okay, let’s work through the questions.
  • Here are my contact details.I am very happy for you to get in touch after today if you have any questions – email is probably the best way.
  • Finally, a favour please: I’d be very grateful if you can complete the satisfaction survey that will appear when you exit.Thank you very much for attending – that’s the end of the webinar. So, when you are ready, you can close the webinar at your end.Till next time.Bye for now.STOP RECORDING
  • Strategic Thinking: what it is and how to do it

    1. 1. Welcome to the webinar!Strategic Thinking: what it is andhow to do itDon’t go away, we will be starting soon…
    2. 2. Strategic Thinking:what it isand how to do itMaree ConwayThinking FuturesWebinar 29 June 2012
    3. 3. ….using futures approaches tointegrate strategic thinking intostrategy development and planning
    4. 4. Where you workIndustry NumberConsulting 18Education 11Other 3Advertising/Marketing/PR 2Telecommunications 2Energy/Chemical/Utilities 1Medical/Pharma/Biotech 1Retail 1Not Stated 1
    5. 5. 1. What Strategic Thinking is and whydo it2. Strategic Thinking and Strategy3. Some Tools for Strategic Thinking4. Back to work
    6. 6. • What’s your definition of strategicthinking?
    7. 7. Your answers
    8. 8. From the literature• “The way in which people in anorganization think about,assess, view and create thefuture for themselves and theirassociates. It is more thanresponding to both day-to-dayas well as long-term problems,opportunities and new realities;it is creating tomorrow. It isnot reactive, but proactive…Strategic thinking alwaysinvolves change, and often,profound personal change.”Kaufman et al (2003: 40-41)• A “cognitive process … thatprecedes strategic planning oraction, whereby an individualcontemplates the futuredevelopment of theorganisation whilst consideringits attributes, its past andpresent and the externalrealities within which itoperates.”Tavakoli and Lawton (2005: 6)
    9. 9. Strategic thinking is identifying, imagining andunderstanding possible future operatingenvironments for your organisation…
    10. 10. …so you can use that knowledge to expand yourthinking about your potential strategic options,
    11. 11. …to position your organisation effectively inthe external environment,
    12. 12. …in order to make better informed decisionsabout action to take today.
    13. 13. • Thinking about the future is usingyour innate foresight capacity.• In a strategy context, for anorganisation, it’s about building astrategic foresight capacity.
    14. 14. Foresight?• The ability to take a forward view and usethe insights gained in organisationallyuseful ways.• Richard Slaughter, Foresight International–
    15. 15. Current approaches tostrategic thinkingTraditional TryingFuturesReady
    16. 16. Strategic Thinking Strategic PlanningOnly the shape of the future can bepredictedFuture is predictable and specifiable in detailRelies on self-reference – a sense ofstrategic intent and purpose embedded inthe minds of managers that guides theirchoicesAsserts control through measurementRequires that managers have anunderstanding of the larger systemAssumes that the manager below need onlyto know his or her own role wellSees strategy and change as inescapablylinked and assumes that finding newstrategic options and implementing themsuccessfully is harder and more importantthan evaluating themAssumes that the challenge of settingstrategic direction is primarily analyticSees the planning process itself as a criticalvalue-adding elementFocus on the creation of the plan as theultimate object
    17. 17. Purpose Thought ProcessStrategic Thinking Discover novel,imaginative strategies thatcan re-write the rules ofthe competitive game; andto envision potentialfutures; significantlydifferent from the present.SyntheticDivergentCreativeStrategic Planning Operationalise strategiesdeveloped throughstrategic thinking, and tosupport the strategicthinking process.AnalyticalConvergentConventional
    18. 18. Long termUncertainDivergentIncompleteBeyond linearDisrupting alignment
    19. 19. Short termLogicalConvergentPragmaticDeductiveCreating Alignment
    20. 20. • Current strategy processes tend tofocus on the plan as the majoroutcome, rather than a sharedunderstanding of your organisation‟spreferred future to inform action today.
    21. 21. Think tomorrowis going to bemore of today
    22. 22. Can’t copewith theunexpected
    23. 23. Usually don’t explore thelong term future
    24. 24. Prefer quantitativeover qualitativeinformation
    25. 25. Don’tchallengeassumptions
    26. 26. Downplay or dismiss staff beliefs,hopes and fears about the future
    27. 27. Mintzberg (1994)• “Strategic planning often spoils strategicthinking, causing managers to confusereal vision with the manipulation ofnumbers…”, and that “…the mostsuccessful strategies are visions, notplans”. Strategic planning then is bettercharacterised as “strategic programming,the articulation and elaboration ofstrategies, or visions, that already exist”.
    28. 28. Heracleous (1998)
    29. 29. Liedtka (1998)• Traditional strategic planning processes ashaving “choked initiative and favouredincremental over substantive change.They have emphasized analytics andextrapolation rather than creativity andinvention….They have lulled us intocomplacency with their comforting illusionof certainty in what is in reality ahopelessly uncertain world.”
    30. 30. But…Lietdka (1998)• “there is little in the notion of planning itself thatundermines strategic thinking; rather, it is theprocesses through which we haveoperationalized planning, and theassumptions that we have made about howand who ought to plan, that have gotten usinto trouble. We have designed planningsystems where participation in formulation islimited to senior management, while the rest ofthe organization waits to implement.”
    31. 31. • Current strategy processes live in thepragmatic futures realm.• Working within the existing paradigm,making it better, but not challenging it.• We call it „strategic planning‟.
    32. 32. • Beyond strategic planning – to strategydevelopment and implementation.• Moving into the progressive futuresrealm, where we challenge the currentparadigm and re-interpret how we dobusiness to meet the challenges of thefuture.
    33. 33. Moving from pragmatic to progressive approachesrequires a strong focus on building a high qualitystrategic thinking capacity in your organisation.
    34. 34. We cant solveproblems byusing the samekind of thinkingwe used whenwe createdthem.
    35. 35. After the event Anticipating the eventReactive Future Approach Proactive Future ApproachWhat has happened? What is happening?What caused it to happen? What is driving the trends thatwill influence our future?What are our alternative futures?How do we respond? What ought we do today?What would be the long termconsequences of our actionstoday be?What will we do? What will we do?
    36. 36. The gap betweenreactive andproactiveapproaches isbridged by makingtime for strategicthinking.
    37. 37. Poll Time:Do you take along term perspective?
    38. 38. So how do we getstarted withstrategicthinking?
    39. 39. InputsStrategyOutputsAnalysisInterpretation“what might we need to do?”“what will we do?”“how will we do it?”“what‟s really happening?”“what seems to be happening?”“what is happening out there?”Foresight“what might happen?”ProspectionCopyright © 2000 Joseph Voros
    40. 40. IdentifyDrivers ofChangeCritiqueDriversforRelevanceImaginewhat’spossibleEnvision apreferredfuturePlan andDoInternalQualitativeIntangibleUnseenExternalQuantitativeTangibleSeenPlanningThinking
    41. 41. BIGDEEPLONG
    42. 42. BIG
    43. 43. Take a big picture, systems perspective…our micro-decisions coalesce to create global futures
    44. 44. DEEP
    45. 45. Ourassumptionsencase us inthe past.
    46. 46. Your Worldview• The network of ideas, beliefs, biases, prejudices,social and cultural embedded-ness, and taken-for-granted assumptions through which youinterpret and interact with the world, otherpeople and yourself.– Constrains what you see in the world, and the waythe world is organised and operates.– Shapes the way in which you see the world and whatyou notice, and the way the world is organised andoperates.Erhard and Jenson, Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership,Harvard Business School, Research Paper 09-022, April 2010.
    47. 47. We all haveblind spotsthat causeus to missor simplyrejectimportantinformation.
    48. 48. Beliefs• Beliefs are sticky.Once you have abelief, you‟ll interpretthe world to match thebelief. You‟ll throwaway or discountevidence against thebelief.• Beliefs about thefuture will have animpact on yourstrategy.Stever Robbins, Thinking Outside Your Beliefs, Harvard Business School WorkingKnowledge, 2006
    49. 49. • Mental filters (patterned responses)• Overconfidence (far too certain)• Penchant for confirming rather thandisconfirming evidence (not locked in)• Dislike for ambiguity (want certainty)• Group think (Abilene effect)Recognise the blindersPJH Schoemaker and GS DayDriving through the Fog, Long Range Planning 37 (2003): 127-142
    50. 50. LONG
    51. 51. Today FutureTIMEUNCERTAINTYLinear FutureLowHighThe linear future is the one webelieve to be true, usually based onuntested assumptionsUsual Planning Timeframe(3-5 years)Trend
    52. 52. Today FutureTIMEUNCERTAINTYLinear FutureLowHighPossible FuturesUsual Planning Timeframe(3-5 years)Trend
    53. 53. Today FutureTIMEUNCERTAINTYLinear FutureLowHighPossible FuturesUsual Planning Timeframe(3-5 years)Trend
    54. 54. • Moving beyond pattern response and habitualthinking that no longer works well whenuncertainty is dominant.• Re-training our brains to see new things andmake new connections (ie be creative).• Moving our brains from automatic pilot tomanual steering.It’s about changingthe way you think…
    55. 55.
    56. 56. • The aim of strategic thinking is tounderstand - as best we can - the longterm context of our decisions today, sothat we make those decisions as wise andas robust as is possible.
    57. 57. Some Strategic Thinking Tools
    58. 58. InputsStrategyOutputsAnalysisInterpretation“what might we need to do?”“what will we do?”“how will we do it?”“what‟s really happening?”“what seems to be happening?”“what is happening out there?”Foresight“what might happen?”ProspectionCopyright © 2000 Joseph Voros
    59. 59. Inputs• EnvironmentalScanning• Provides the rawinformation to informyour strategicthinking.• Both internal andexternal to yourorganisation.
    60. 60. Emerging IssuesTrendsMainstreamTimeNumber ofcases;degree ofpublicawarenessScientists, artists,radicals, mysticsNewspapers,magazines, websites,journals,blogsGovernmentInstitutionsFew cases,local focusGlobal,multipledispersedcases, trendsandmegatrendsAdapted from the work of Graham Molitor and Wendy Schultz,and Everett RogersInnovatorsEarly adoptersLate AdoptersLate MajorityLaggardsTodayTime from emerging issue to mainstream varies between 18-36 yearsWhere to scan
    61. 61. Some Scanning Resources• My site:–• Shaping Tomorrow– Home for your scanning insights– Extensive functionality to support managing yourscanning and the next steps in the strategic thinkingprocess–
    62. 62. Analysis• Looking for patternsand themes relevantfor your organisation.• Trend analysis• Emerging IssuesAnalysis• Forecasting• Delphi
    63. 63. Interpretation• System structure anddynamics – whosebeliefs are dominant?• What‟s driving thetrends? And what doesit mean for us?• How will they develop?• Futures Wheel• Cross Impact Analysis• Causal Layered Analysis
    64. 64. Prospection• How will the trendsevolve over the next10-20 years?• How might werespond? What are ouroptions?• Scenario planning• Visioning• Backcasting
    65. 65. Poll TimeWhich tools do you use?
    66. 66. The Biggest Challenge toStrategic Thinking
    67. 67. The Busyness Syndrome
    68. 68. • The pressures of his job drive themanager to be superficial in his actions -to overload himself with work, encourageinterruption, respond quickly to everystimulus, seek the tangible and avoid theabstract, makes decisions in smallincrements, and do everything abruptly.Henry MintzbergThe Manager‟s Job: Folklore or Fact, HBR, 1975
    69. 69. • “Managers who get caught in the trap ofoverwhelming demands become prisoners ofroutine. They do not have time to noticeopportunities. Their habituated work preventsthem from taking the first necessary step towardharnessing willpower: developing the capacity todream an idea into existence and transforming itinto a concrete existence.”Heike Bruch & Sumantra Ghoshal, A Bias for Action: How Effective ManagersHarness Their Willpower, Achieve Results, and Stop Wasting Time, HBSP, 2004
    70. 70. To think strategically, you haveto move beyond busy.
    71. 71. Back to Work
    72. 72. • Scanoften, scanwell
    73. 73. • Invest moretime in doingthis…
    74. 74. • …as wellas this.
    75. 75. Think long term, act today
    76. 76. UnconsciousImplicitSolitaryOrganisationalConsciousExplicitCollectiveIndividual
    77. 77. What this meansIndividualConsciousnessIndividuals inActionCritical Massof StaffStrategicForesightCapacityValues/Beliefs New models New processes
    78. 78. We think strategically to avoid having thisperspective on the future…
    79. 79. • Download Building Strategic FuturesGuides:– Getting Started with Futures– Environmental Scanning– Strategic Thinking (almost there!)
    80. 80. Contact DetailsMaree Conwayhttp://thinkingfutures.net +61 (3) 8060 7418Mobile: +61 (0) 425 770 181Skype: mkconway1All photos from unless otherwise stated.
    81. 81. Please complete the satisfactionsurvey for me andthank you for attending!