Strategy, The Art of Thinking: Preventing The Reprisal

A strategy is rooted in the type of thinking which avoids self-pity and shame.

I’d like to introduce this clip from one of my favorite movies called The Edge starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. I enjoy this scene because it entails the essence of what strategic thinking is.


Charles Morse: You know, I once read an interesting book which said that, uh, most people lost in the wilds, they, they die of shame.

Stephen: What?

Charles Morse: Yeah, see, they die of shame. “What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?” And so they sit there and they… die. Because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives.

Robert Green: And what is that, Charles?

Charles Morse: Thinking.

What is Strategic Thinking?

Strategic thinking is a process that defines the manner in which people think about, assess, view, and create the future for themselves and others.1

As you can see from this definition, strategic thinking is the ability to build a future. The building of the future includes three primary components:

  1. time (how long before the goal is achieved)
  2. place (where we are going) the goal
  3. including others (team members or competition)

A good strategic thinker will build a team, assign roles based on performance capabilities in order to create that future. A strategic thinker visualizes what has to happen in order for a goal to be achieved. Once the strategic thinker has a goal in mind, he or she collaborates with others to bring the vision out of the future into the present.

Strategic Thinking is highly forward in its nature. Forward meaning this type of thinking looks to what must be done to achieve X. It is able to grasp towards a solution or an outcome.

In rare instances, strategic thinking does think about the past in order to predict what an opponent may do. Sound strategy gathers information. It cognizant of knowledge of the marketplace, products, services, and the competition.

But it doesn’t have any place for self-pity or defeatist thinking. Shame and self-pity are as close to defeat as you can get. Shame does not get you any closer to your result. Therefore, let us focus on what strategy thinking really is.

Preventing Reprisals

Strategic thinkers are great at fishing out problems. Fishing out problems is the process of looking into the immediate future and asking what are the immediate dangers. What is going to rear its ugly head and wreck shop?

Strategic thinkers are going to put self-pity and shame aside. Facing the future objectively ask themselves how can the team succeed? What must happen to overcome these dangerous? How can I nullify what happened yesterday to move the team forward towards the objective?

Fishing out problems does not involve fancy strategic planning software. You don’t have to hire a consultant. All you need is a pen and paper. Make a list of what can go wrong over the next 90 days. Then decide what strategies to employ to counteract the danger or remove the danger.

Try this strategy out for 90 days. See the first 90 days, then the whole 52 weeks. See if this does not enable you to overcome dangers and exploit opportunities.