Strategic thinking (vs. the ordinary kind :-) is often about articulating a ‘big picture’ that won’t age in 6 months or a year.
It often starts with a vision, a statement around the big view, an aspiration that will take years to achieve if at all. It should be short, in simple language and something to which anyone – from top to bottom or side to side – can point to and understand how they contributed that day. Often inspirational, bigger than one product, person or process, citing a future state.
“To boldly go where no man has gone before…”
“To make sure my child feels secure and able to cope in the world…”
“To be the partner of choice…”
Below that is often the mission (though some combine mission and vision). It answers the question “What is our main purpose in support of the vision? What will we focus on today and tomorrow in pursuit of the vision?”
Then comes the strategy – the specific goals and the means to achieve those goals (approaches & tactics). Don’t rush into figuring out the answers/tactics/approaches.
“If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.” Albert Einstein
The above is a planning approach you may know well; we follow the checklist to find a solution.
However, the real challenge is not in following but in asking – at each stage of the plan – do we understand how this bullet supports the vision and mandate? Is this idea a priority for the vision and mandate? Anyone at any place in the hierarchies by which we run our organizations is tasked with asking those questions. It’s everyone’s responsibility as we are all held to the vision.
Asking good questions is like eating good candy… you can’t be satisfied with just one…