Strategic thinking is discovering novel, imaginative strategies and envisioning potential futures very different from the present. In other words, strategic thinking is higher-order thinking that should take place to explore potential directions for the company, and strategic planning is the operationalization of those ideas.
A primary activity of strategic thinking is called strategic positioning, focused on four growth areas according to the Ansoff matrix:
- Market penetration (increased market share)
- Market development (new customer groups or new market areas)
- Product development (new products and/or significant improvements to current products)
- Diversification (new business areas for example via acquisitions)
Strategic thinking depends on early identification of emerging market trends, extensive market intelligence, in-depth competitive analysis, and a full understanding of the following elements:
- Product/market scope
- Growth vectors
- Competitive advantages
Ultimately, strategic thinking is part of a broader corporate strategy development that focus on defining:
Harry Igor Ansoff was a Russian American applied mathematician and business manager. He is known as the father of strategic management. He originally presented his “Strategies for Diversification” on Harward Business Review in 1957.