Monday, April 7, 2014
BIG’s Blog: Strategic Thinking vs. Strategic Planning
You cannot train someone to be a strategic thinker, as Tom Rath and Barry Conchie demonstrate in their best selling book, Strengths Based Leadership, published by Gallup Press.
Each of us have different strengths – different talents – that make us unique from one another. When a team comes together, whether in sports or the workplace, it would be terrible if everyone had the same set of strengths. Just imagine a baseball team with all pitchers!
Through the years I have not been a big advocate of the annual or even the five-year cycle of strategic planning. I believe that developing a new strategy should only be undertaken when your current business model (way of doing business) is failing.
Successful strategies, once put in place, can be effective for years, decades, or longer. The Cold War between the West and the old Soviet Union lasted from the late 1940s to 1993 when the Soviet Union dissolved into independent countries. The basic containment strategy put in place by the West was developed early, and though tactics changed through the years, the core of the strategy remained in place until the fall of the Soviet Union.
Organizations only need to undertake the real effort and work of developing a new strategy (codified in a strategic plan) when their current strategy begins to fail.
However, thinking strategically, for those with the talent, is very important in monitoring change within your organization or sector.
Today, in the nonprofit fundraising sector, all fundraising organizations operate essentially in the same way, with the same tools, tactics, and organization . . . but new ideas and tactics are always being introduced and tested.
Strategic thinking is about constantly asking the question, “Why wouldn’t this work?” It is about being open to new ideas and tactics. Strategic thinkers in any organization should be identified and encouraged. Accepting strategic thinkers is a competitive advantage for any organization.
New ideas never come from the core of an industry (meaning the large established organizations and associations), but rather from the edge; those organizations that encourage strategic thinkers. And if an idea that germinated at the edge gains traction, it will migrate to the core of your industry, and that is when most will see change happening.
But be careful; in today’s world, change is happening at a much faster pace. Therefore, organizations that encourage strategic thinkers are the organizations that adopt change faster and, ultimately, survive.
-MikeWelcome to BIG's Blog! Please feel free to forward this post to your friends and coworkers...and email me a comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org