Strategic Thinking vs. Strategic Planning in Business

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  • 0:03 Strategic Processes
  • 0:24 Strategic Thinking
  • 1:19 Strategic Planning
  • 1:41 Jeanne Liedtka
  • 4:04 Henry Mintzberg
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Claude Bourbonniere

Claude has worked as a Company Manager for Cirque du Soleil for the past 20 years and completed an MBA in Global Management at the University of Phoenix in 2014

Paul, the CEO of a widget-producing company, needs to think strategically. The strategic process has different steps. We will discuss how strategic thinking differs from strategic planning in the business world.

Strategic Processes

Paul, the CEO of a widget-producing company, wants his executives to improve the strategic process of his company and to understand the difference between strategic thinking and strategic planning. In the lesson, we'll look at how Paul did just this. We'll start with the definitions of the two kinds of strategic processes.

Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is a planning process that applies innovation, strategic planning, and operational planning to develop business strategies that have a greater chance for success.

More and more, organizations are learning that past experiences are not always the best basis for developing future strategies. Executives need to thoughtfully consider how to create value for customers. That's where strategic thinking comes in. Strategic thinking is the 'what' and 'why' of the planning process. It answers the question, 'What should we be doing and why?'

Strategic thinking requires innovation and creativity and includes a research phase to examine the voice of the customer, the employee, and industry practices. It's a process of examining everything we do in our various roles, understanding the needs of our customers, and ensuring that all of this is linked to clearly defined strategic imperatives.

Strategic Planning

The exercise of strategic planning, while important, tends to answer the 'how' and 'when' of business planning and rarely captures the essence of what it means to think strategically.

Strategic planning is a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and it translates this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps of how to achieve them.

Jeanne Liedtka

Jeanne M. Liedtka is a faculty member at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business and former chief learning officer at United Technologies Corporation. She is particularly known for her work in corporate strategy. She has written and consulted on topics surrounding strategic thinking for over 30 years. According to Ledtka, strategic thinking differs from strategic planning along the following dimensions of strategic management:

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