We don’t live in the prehistoric age or the wild west. Where to survive, all you need is a club or handgun. You can’t go smash-smash or bang-bang to defeat your enemies. In this modern world, your brain is your weapon & Strategic Thinking Skills are your ammo. In this shrewd, cut-throat world, we must follow some Steps to Develop Strategic Thinking to not only defeat enemies but also to develop ourselves.
There is a general idea that strategic thinking skills are hard to attain & that only business honchos, senior executives, or policymakers require a strategic mindset. The fact is, to survive & to develop ourselves, we all need to hone our strategic thinking. Even if you are an employee in a corporate firm, you must have a level of strategic thinking.
Sharpen Your Strategic Thinking Skills
1. Determine Your Goals
One of the key Steps to Develop Strategic Thinking is determining your goals. If you can’t describe or see your ultimate destination, the quest for finding a path will not happen, there is the question of which path to take. Your strategic thinking skills can only answer how to reach my goal.
Therefore, to sharpen your strategic thinking, you must have a clear goal. Repeatedly ask yourself why you want to achieve that goal or why it is vital. Once you find the answer, it will automatically inspire you to find what leads to your goals. In the process, you will come up with many productive ideas of which path to take & how to make your journey easier.
2. Play Chess
Chess is one of the games that can improve your strategic thinking significantly. Invented in India in the 6th century CE, this game is now popular globally. In this game, you will learn to anticipate your opponent’s move & plan your moves accordingly. Many mind games are required to ace this game & defeat your opponent.
Some successful players often take the strategy of bluffing. They let the opponent guess their next move while planning something entirely different. This skill needs a lot of knowledge in reverse psychology.
If you don’t know how to play chess, there are lots of tutorials & books by famous chess players like Bobby Fischer, Irving Chernev, Aron Nimzowitsch, Alexander Baburin & many more. Read them. If you can’t find a companion to play with, play against yourself.
3. Try Other Games
So, you love gaming? Then you will find many games to hone your Strategic Thinking Skills. Apart from playing chess on a PC, where you can play against the computer or play against some real players over the internet, many strategy games are also available. PC or console games are not only about gun-toting soldiers or high-speed cars.
There are many games like Crusader Kings III, Total War: Warhammer 3, Europa Universalis 4, Civilization 6 & many more. In these games, you can assume the persona of an explorer trying to build a community or a veteran war general trying to defend his country against many odds. To level up & win, you must apply your Strategic Thinking Skills.
Even if you are not a fan of PC gaming, you can try board games like Risk, Monopoly, Wingspan, Catan & many more to relax your mind while sharpening your strategic thinking.
4. Hone Your Listening Skills
A strategic thinker needs as much information as possible to use them. Therefore developing your listening skills is a must for developing your strategic thinking. You need to pay attention properly to avoid missing out on many vital pieces of information & won’t be able to come up with a fitting response or decision.
Critical thinkers accept that their thoughts & opinions may be imperfect & therefore listen to others attentively to learn more different perspectives. Developing dedicated listening skills will inspire others to state their opinions & promote an atmosphere of understanding & mutual respect.
5. Develop Your Questioning Skills
A strategic thinker must question every opinion, even his own. Not from a cynical perspective but in a way that beneficially allows you to see & measure ideas objectively. Just because a method of thinking or idea is generally accepted & recognized as the standard doesn’t mean it is above questioning. Questioning a standard may sometimes create room for improvement.
If not for the questioning skills of our predecessors, we would have still believed that the sun moves around the earth or that the earth is flat. Their argument was backed by scientific evidence, but it took guts & strategic thinking to question a belief which was seen as going against religion.
6. Hone Your Improvisation Power
In this life journey, we plan & move ahead but can’t always predict what may come next. We couldn’t predict a huge pandemic that shut off the world & turned our lives upside down. Even on 5th February 2023, the people of Syria couldn’t predict so many of them would die & more of them would lose their homes, families, and livelihood due to a devastating earthquake the next day.
To counter unpredictable events like this, we must apply our strategic thinking & improvisation power to help us do that.
Suppose you are returning home after a hard day & find yourself stuck in a huge traffic jam due to an accident. You can either sit there & wait for that jam to be cleared (even if you don’t know how long it will take), or you can try to find an alternative route to your home. The call is yours.
7. Understand Counter Opinions
No strategic thinker will believe that their opinions are always right. Developing an understanding & admiration of opposing opinions, arguments, or positions can increase your strategic thinking skills by producing an awareness of the total picture. The more you explore different arguments, the more perspectives & choices you will invite to yourself.
Benefits Of Strategic Thinking
You must follow the Steps to Develop Strategic Thinking Skills. These skills are optional for policymakers or business leaders. We can benefit from it in our personal & professional lives. Some of the benefits of Strategic Thinking are:
- It will help you to be more proactive & less reactive.
- It will provide organization & direction.
- It will make goals clearer & reachable.
- It will increase resilience & profitability.
- It will help you to be an excellent decision-maker & problem-solver.
- It will offer you better reliability & influence.
- It will offer you to prioritize.
- It will help you to analyze before acting.
Q: How can strategic thinking be helpful in our personal life?
A: Even in discussions with family or friends, we must respond or act after a careful analysis. Strategic thinking can help us to do that.
Q: If I were a software developer, what good strategic thinking can be for me?
A: Suppose you are making an anti-virus. You need to understand the nature of the viruses you are trying to prevent & then develop your software accordingly. It all needs strategic thinking.
Q: Are there any books on strategic thinking?
A: There are many books available. Some of them are:
- Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt.
- The Art of Strategy by Avinash K. Dixit.
- The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney.
- The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
- Leadership Strategy and Tactics by Jocko Willink.