Using Strategic Thinking to Consider the Big Picture

business notes

My notes from “Using Strategic Thinking to Consider the Big Picture” course

How to develop the sense of the bigger picture?

Elevating Your Perspective

  • Use Systems thinking - a holistic view of your organization
  • Investigate how subsystems are interconnected
  • A key element is identification of the boundaries in your department and organization (e.g., traditional ways of doing, assumptions about problems, lack of information)
  • Develop a reflective approach, question what you know, what your role is, what impact you have
  • Look for similarities among different companies, other departments
  • Avoid jumping into conclusions. Instead, take a step back and troubleshoot the problem

Understanding Paradoxes

  • Avoid reductionist thinking (breaking down information, figuring out single truth)
  • There is no one root cause
  • Use generative approach (what you can add, instead of what you can remove)
  • Get comfortable dealing with complex circumstances (via intuition, exploration, collaboration)
  • Use brainstorming and get team members’ inputs

Understanding Causality

  • Focus on patterns
  • Instead of looking for what is happening, people think of what should be happening (confirmation bias)
  • It’s easier to confirm than challenge an idea
  • Use hypothesis questions (What If…Then…) and evaluate available data
  • Try using an influence diagram, to find out how different variables affect your decision (problems shown as rectangles, variables as ovals + directional arrows + positive/negative impact)

Considering External Factors

  • Porter’s five forces model
  • The bargaining power of customers (get lower prices)
  • The bargaining power of suppliers (threat of new entrants/new organizations)
  • Threat of substitutes (when customers can easily switch to alternative products)
  • Competitors (changing margins)
  • Analyze all threats and devise strategies to take the external forces into the account

Considering Internal Factors

  • Make sure you understand organization strategy and vision
  • Find out organizations strategic plans
  • Talk with other people
  • Think what goals should your department have to achieve a common vision
  • Indentify and understand stakeholders and their concerns

Assessing Value and Supply Chains

  • What value your work creates?
  • Understand your organization’s value chain
  • In most organizations there are nine value-added activities (inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, services) + (infrastructure, HR management, technology development, procurement)
  • Understand what brings most value and prioritize your work accordingly
  • Create a visual representation SIPOC diagram