In my school days, I loved playing chess. It was my favorite board game for the longest time. The other game was Tic Tac Toe. During lectures in the college days, this game was the boredom killer. Or do you remember the line drawing games called Squares? The one where the winner was one with the maximum squares? All these games tapped into that part of our thinking which is home for strategic thinking.


We had to think before we made a move. We had to factor in the information we had access to, figure out what we would do followed by action.

Chances are that in the past few months, your organization would have conducted several meetings and discussions to brainstorm about the ways and means to mitigate losses or to bring the company back to normalcy on several counts like finance and sales. Several companies have gone on overdrive mode thinking of ways to retain exceptional talent while dealing with cash crunch and the potential for the future. Chances are also that in all these meetings, there are few members who actively participate and few simply mumble some jargon without any meaningful contribution. There are always on board some members who harp upon the problem while a handful few see the big picture and come up with innovative solutions. These latter ones are those who have strong strategic thinking skills that benefit the organization. Is strategic thinking skill so rare? Rare, yes. Valuable, well, definitely yes! Can it be developed, especially when you are or slated to take up, a leadership role? Not all leaders are born, some are created, and with due training, turn out to be good ones.

‘Strategic thinking skills’ is something we frequently read in job advertisements as a necessary (read- desired) skill for higher roles.  Maybe you’re not born with these skills, but definitely you can learn them.

Listed below are some of the key strategic thinking skills that can be taught and learned. 

  • Challenging status quo: All great leaders challenge what is already obvious. Only by asking ‘why’  ‘why not’ and ‘what if’  can innovation happen. Staretigic thinking is when you start with the end in mind. All disruptive ideas, whether in pricing, technology or positioning turn game changers because someone saw what others couldn’t imagine.
  • Communication: the most underrated but extremely important skill in today’s world. Whether you need to communicate the right pitch or get into damage control when things turn bad, the right communication, using the right mode, the right words addressed to the right people, can turn tables.
  • Analytical skills: Business never runs linear, it’s always circular and most often, looks like a maze. So here logic has to be turned on its head because what is obvious to the eye may not be so to the brain. A good leader analyses based on his company’s viewpoint.
  • Foresight: Look beyond the shores even in pitch darkness. Steve Jobs famously said that customers themselves don’t know what they want. Be informed, be alert and be ready to take a plunge. Keep your sources diverse, your customers, vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, employees, friends, family, competitors, partners, news reports, industry reports, ground reports and more.
  • Sharp sense of business: what works, stays, what doesn’t work, is sold. Simple. Understand business, YOUR business, to its deepest. No two businesses are the same. Going beyond profit and loss, some leaders can predict the future and maneuver the company well. Read more...