Is there difference between strategic thinking and strategic planning?

There is an ongoing academic debate regarding the difference between these two concepts. Many theories have been developed ranging from, the one is the flip side of the other, up to a model aiming at describing all the dimensions and inter actions of strategic thinking.

Practicing entrepreneurs will however know that that strategic thinking is simply strategic planning at a very high pace.

Your ability to think strategically is of utmost importance in order to manage and to grow your enterprise. The ability to think strategically is not rocket science; it is simply something you have to do, if you know how to do it.

Strategic thinking is the high pace process of looking at the bigger picture surrounding your business.  You must make a habit of scanning the various “external environments” (economic, political, social, legal and technological) by looking for opportunities, as well as for threats.  You will be amazed how many new opportunities you’ll see when you start focusing on the various external environments.

You will, as a matter of fact, also become aware of possible threats, which will enable you to make plans to counter them before it is too late. In countering threats, it could be necessary to change direction and/or diversify by adding new related products/services.

Your ability to focus, as well as your ability to make Paradigm Shifts, are the most important and also critical factors in the strategic thinking process

If you have to change direction and/or diversify, always remember to do it within your domain of passion and interest.  You will also see when you start focusing and manage to shift old paradigms, that there is never a shortage of new opportunities.

You must also remember that business opportunities are simply viable solutions to problems, and problems are everywhere, begging to be solved. Develop the ability to listen to people as we all love to talk about our problems. Each problem is like a diamond waiting to be mined and where the mining process represents the solution to the problem.

The second part of strategic thinking will be driven by a focus on your business and business processes, as well as on your competitors.  In this focus, you’ll be looking at strengths and weaknesses.  Always search for possible ways of building on your strengths and eliminating your weaknesses in relation to your competitors.  You must also never forget to do the same exercise with your customers in mind.

Always strive to eliminate the weaknesses of your products/services and to build on their strengths.  You’ll have to do this on a continuous basis in order to provide a better solution for your customers and optimize your profits at the same time.

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