Strategic planning vs. strategic thinking

Developing strategy is a challenge for many business leaders. Not a shocking statement. My friend Lauren told me, and I quote, “I dread it.”

To one degree or another, everyone I spoke with about the post agreed with Lauren that developing strategy is tough. And why is that? Strategy defines so much about what our business is, shouldn’t we as the leaders of our businesses be more comfortable with it than we are?

I believe, a large portion of that negative feeling ties back to how we too often undertake strategy development, and could be resolved by a change in habit.

I want to differentiate between the concept of “Strategic Planning” and “Strategic Thinking.”

Strategic planning is that annual??? Process that you may or may not go through to craft how you are going to operate for the year that you stick in a binder and walk away from until next year. It’s about getting the plan DONE and moving on to your real work.

Strategic thinking, on the other hand, is a constant process that begins with the creation of some form of working document, and continues to play a role in your decision making every month, every week and every day. Your strategic thinking documents are living and breathing organisms that adapt and change as your business environment changes.

Strategic planning is hard, strategic thinking is about learning.

Strategic planning is about creating a document, strategic thinking is about creating room to make healthy decisions.

Strategic planning puts up walls around your business, strategic thinking gives you room to evolve within your identity.

I’m not crazy. I understand that to some degree this is semantics, but the intent behind which we undertake strategy development, and the attitude we bring into the process play a huge role in how successful the development of effective strategy can be.

So, do you undertake strategic planning or are you a strategic thinker?

Next week we dive into the challenges of thinking strategically and we will finish this series out addressing how FusionForge can help you be more effective at strategic thinking. 

Josh PerrystrategyComment