Strategic Thinking and Strategic Planning: Leadership Requires Both
“Strategic planning is worthless unless there is first a strategic vision” -John Naisbitt
Focus + Synchronization + Execution = Success! Strategic thinking and strategic planning have significant impact on any organization and often, are viewed as one in the same when they are fundamentally different. Leadership requires both!
- Let’s start by defining both– Strategic thinking is a skill. You may have this natural talent, you can develop it, leverage it, and improve it. Strategic planning is a process. It requires establishing steps to take action that will be carried out.
So, while thinking in a specific manner can be a natural or developed skill, planning strategically is a process that drives results through tactical actions defined within framework. Partnered together, leaders and their teams succeed!
- Yes, you need both – The purpose of strategic thinking is to envision or develop a solution. Strategic thinking fosters the brainstorming of ideas, thoughts, and approaches to help an individual or a team meet their goals. The purpose of strategic planning is to conceptualize and then, create the actual steps or actions needed that will result in the goals to need to be met. Do you see how the two go hand-in-hand?
- Leaders have accountability to both– While both can be done by individuals or in teams, typically strategic thinking is more of a personal or individual competency. Strategic planning involves multiple people or a team that comes together. Leaders have accountability to both – to think and plan strategically. That said, from my experience strategic thinking has better results when done alone and strategic planning yields greater results when done in a group.
- Caution – While these two go hand-in-hand, many leaders who are able to think strategically are not always able to plan in the same manner, and vice versa. It’s important to have this awareness and ensure that as a leader, you are developing in both and/or surrounding yourself with others that will fill in the gap of where your talent is not.
Organizations need leaders with both. Both serve a purpose and accountability is key to the success. While, strategic thinking can provide the right direction, the actual goal achievement happens due to strategic planning. Likewise, strategic planning can help in implementing an approach to a solution, but without strategic thinking, yielding the results may not occur.
Focus + Synchronization + Execution = Success! Organizations that have both are aligned. Think about the impact of an aligned team. As we get ready to close out the year…challenge yourself and your team to think strategically and to establish a strategic plan that aligns everyone.