Practical Application: Implementing Strategic Thinking in the Workplace

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Success in the workplace often depends upon strategic thinking. But how does this actually work? In this scenario, you'll be asked to think about the types of strategic thinking and how they might apply to real-world business situations.

Types of Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking helps organizations focus on planning and innovation that align with the company mission and goals. But there are many different types of strategic thinking. They include:

Critical thinking, which is about making reasoned evaluations, including making judgments about solutions, processes, and products.

Practical thinking, which involves common sense, or figuring out how to adapt to environmental changes and challenges.

Divergent thinking, which involves expanding possible solutions and processes and is closely related to innovation.

Convergent thinking, which involves narrowing solutions and processes to the best option and is closely related to critical thinking.

Logical thinking, which is about moving from one statement, thought or step to another.

For more information on strategic thinking, check out the course Developing Strategic Thinking in Business. In particular, you might want to focus on the lessons What is Critical Thinking?, Divergent Thinking: Definition & Examples, Convergent Thinking: Definition & Examples, Logical Thinking: Definition & Process, and Practical Thinking: Definition & Examples.

Once you understand the types of strategic thinking, read the scenario below. As you read, reflect on what type(s) of thinking could be used in this scenario and how they might be used.


Khadija is the Vice President of sales at a large corporation. Her company makes personal care items, like shampoo and toothpaste, and Khadija's job is to make sure that her sales team is selling lots of those products to stores nationwide.

Recently, Khadija has noticed an issue. Year-over-year growth has slowed dramatically. The company just isn't growing as fast as it has in the past. Khadija wants to remedy this, so she decides to put into place a new sales initiative to encourage her team to sell more products to more stores. After thinking a lot about it, Khadija has come up with three possible initiatives:

1. She can provide sales incentives, like a cruise or a special bonus to the salesperson who brings in the most new clients.

2. She can buy a list of new possible leads, including independent stores and pharmacies with whom they have not done business yet.

3. She can invest in new training and/or software to support her team and make them more effective.

Now, Khadija has to figure out which solution is the best one, or if there's another initiative that would be better. She needs to think strategically about the problem and possible solutions to figure out the best way forward.

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