Strategic Thinking

Strategic Thinking
The text Strategy: A History, written by Lawrence Freedman, published by Oxford University Press was reviewed extensively in the media and was selected

as a Financial Times Best Book of 2013.

Freedman suggests that strategy is the art of creating power and is difficult to master, he adds that it is undoubtedly a good thing to have, and is

also a hard thing to get right. According to Freedman the world of strategy is full of disappointment and frustration, of means not working and ends

not reached. The view that strategy is a coping mechanism is considered, with an emphasis on incremental, provisional and contingent matters. Strategy

is to be viewed as a means of moving modestly to the next stage that can realistically be reached from the current situation, rather than a permanent



Assignment brief:

1. Using a range of academic sources write a critical review of the development of business strategy during the 20th century, emphasising key events.

(900 words)

2. Synthesise academic sources to draw on comparisons with contemporary thinking related to strategy. (1100 words)

3. Evidence of academic reading together with full and correct Harvard referencing is expected at level 6. It should be noted that an absence of theory

limits the mark achieved to a maximum of 40.

4. Professional business presentation with a clear structure throughout.

Note: Strict adherence to the overall word count is strongly recommended. Appendices are not expected in an assignment of this nature, where a table,

figure or diagram is used to illustrate and support the contents, this should be inserted at the appropriate place within the assignment.
Assessment Criteria Marks Awarded Marks Available
Range of sources, definitions of terminology and longitudinal approach with contextual insight and critical interpretation
Evaluation of recent (from 2005 onwards) developments in strategic thinking to provide a synthesis of ideas related to contemporary strategic thinking

within the business arena.
Use of full and correct Harvard references to provide academic evidence of the assignment content
Absence of supporting theory places an assignment in the marking band 30 -40
Presentation –a professional business document, good structure and layout. Use of headings, sub headings, illustration, example, calculation,

introduction and summary
Assignment has a value of 30% of total module
Undergraduate level 6
Grading & Marking Criteria

80 + Outstanding work of substantial merit which is original in content or approach allowing a novel perspective, based on a broad range of

70 – 79 Work which is clearly articulated and well substantiated, based on robust and extensive academic reading, and demonstrates a good grasp of the

concepts, methodology and content appropriate to the subject and to the assessed task. There is clear evidence of originality and insight and an

ability to sustain an argument, to think analytically and or critically and an ability to synthesise material effectively.
60 – 69 Work which demonstrates a very good level of understanding of the concepts, methodology and content appropriate to the subject and which draws

on a good range of properly referenced sources. There is clear evidence of critical judgement in selecting, ordering and analyzing content. The work

demonstrates some ability to synthesise material and to construct responses which reveal insight may offer somw occasional originality.
50 – 59 Work derived from a good basis of reading and which demonstrates a grasp of relevant material and key concepts and an ability to structure and

organize arguements. The performance may be rather routine but the work will be accurate, clearly written and include some analysis. There will be no

serious omissions or irrelevancies.
40 – 49 Competent and suitably organized work which demonstrates a reasonable level of understanding with minimal analysis and interpretation. It

covers the basic subject matter adequately but is too descriptive and insufficiently analytical. There may be some misunderstanding of key concepts and

limitations in the ability to select relevant material so that the work may be flawed by some omissions and irrelevancies. There will be some evidence

of appropriate reading but it may be too narrowly focused.
30 – 39 Work lacks evidence of knowledge relevant to the topic and/or significantly misuses terminology. There is either no evidence of literature

being consulted or irrelevant to the assignment set. Inaccurate or inappropriate choice of theory. Unsubstantiated/invalid conclusions based on

anecdote and generalisation only, or no conclusions at all. Lacks critical thought and reference to theory.
0 – 29 Insufficient level of understanding and knowledge base unacceptably weak. No evidence of logical structure and poorly presented.

Referencing is unsystematic or absent.
Below is the Lecture note for your reference and tips. Kindly read to get an understanding of what lecturer want from this task. You can use some of the

mentioned references within the notes accordingly.
What is strategy?
History of Strategy
Freedman (2013)
Everyone needs a strategy

Having a strategy suggests an ability to look up from the short term and the trivial to view the long term and the essential, to address causes rather

than symptoms” (Freedman, 2013: ix)
• The sensible application of superior resources
• Powerful and elite? (mass)
• Links to bureaucracy in organizations
• A personal response? (individual)
• Aim: becoming less wrong!
Strategy Statements
Johnson, Whittington, Scholes, Angwin, Regner (2015) Fundamentals of Strategy 3rdEdn.

Main themes:
Goals – the purpose of the organization, what business is it in, may use challenging language, similar to mission statement
Vision – what do we want to achieve
Objectives – precise language, verbs and measures
Scope – customers, location, activities
Advantages – how will the objectives be achieved, requires the identification of a competitive advantage
Creating real world strategy, useful additional material:

Developing the notion of strategy
• Elements of a process, occurring over time
• Unlikely to be achieved in the short-term
• “Strategy is the long-term direction of an organisation” Johnson &Scholes (2015:2)
– Horizon 1: extend and defend core business
– Horizon 2: build an emerging business
– Horizon 3: create viable option
• Concentrated or focused view
• Requires effort to maintain
• May involve alternatives
• Examples?
Examples of Strategic Statements
 Do more with less – Dyson?
 Simplicity is at the heart of everything we do, and we strive to make everything not only beautiful but also useful. Seasalt
 We’ve been catching and selling fish for over 150 years and we plan to carry on doing the same forever. That’s why we’re committed to

sustainable fishing, making sure our oceans can be home to fish for future generations to enjoy forever. ‘Sea Change’ John West
 To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible. Tesla Motors
 How appealing are these statements?
 What example would you prefer to use?

Key strategic developments – 100+ years on a page
See article on vle page
(Assignment ) One, Part 1

Using a range of academic sources write a critical review of the development of business strategy during the 20th century, emphasising key events. (900

Requires individual research to define key terms, brief acknowledgement of historical view and place into more recent context, with a view of the future
Hint: being critical – if you do not agree, say why – and support with authentic sources! Check marking criteria

Obama’s Campaign Themes and Strategies
worth researching as a modern, successful strategy

 Obama’s overarching campaign theme was the need for change. His theme of change had two facets. First, it meant a change in the White House,

replacing the failed Bush presidency with a Democratic presidency. Second, it meant a change in the way that Washington worked. Divisive partisanship

should be replaced by a more cooperative post-partisanship approach. Excessive influence of lobbyists in the legislative process should be replaced by a

greater concern with the public good. Thus, Obama believed that voters were not only unhappy with the Bush administration but that they were also

unhappy with the nature of politics in Washington.
 The Obama strategy was to equate McCain and Bush as much as possible.
Strategic themes (Obama – 2)
 Obama’s theme of change encompassed changes in public policy. On the domestic side, Obama proposed: (a) major health care reform; (b) policies

to reshape the economy, especially regarding energy consumption and environmental protection; and (c) increased taxes for top income earners, combined

with tax cuts for lower-income individuals. On foreign policy and national security, he favored reducing troop levels in Iraq as quickly as possible and

placing more emphasis on winning the war in Afghanistan.
 Obama had not been part of the Congress for many years making it easier for him to present himself as an agent of chaneg, but did he lack

experience? Part of his campaign strategy was to assure voters that he was capable of handling the job—that he had the knowledge, the judgement, and the

temperament to be a successful president. Finally Obama did not use public funds, instead he raised his own – very successfully.
How to think strategically
This is Part 2 of the assignment

1. Thinking is linked to a need or demand for action
2. Perceptions – what is our impression/s? May differ when working in a group
3. Intuition – to support our judgements and decision – previous experiences and outcomes
4. Reasoning – assess and analyse – may require supporting facts, data, trend analysis

Mental Models
A way of thinking
Tend to become routine, habitual, personal – expressed by:
“We tried that before and it didn’t work”
Coloured by previous experiences
Emotional engagement – extent to which we care
Improvement or survival
Abilities and competencies to achieve desired outcome

Definition …..
 Strategic thinking is the ability to devise practical actions capable of overcoming core challenges in the pursuit of a higher purpose” (Sola,

Couturier and Borioli, 2013:.26)
 Such thinking is not limited to the world of business
 Advantages:
– Contributes to productivity and performance
– Transformational process, not just hard work
– Requires energy and concentration
– Recognition of potential risk and reward
The Strategic Mind
 Clarity in terms of goals – and those of others
 Ability to interpret – question meaning
 Actions bring goal achievement closer (otherwise discard)
 Place proposed actions into context
 Visualise and contemplate the impact of actions
 Spot issues and potential opportunities
 Plan of action
 Manage own issues and emotional intelligence

To cite this document: , (2015),”The (lost) art of war”, Strategic Direction, Vol. 31 Iss 11 pp. 27 – 29 Permanent link to this document:

 1. Focus on skills and behaviours, not just results
 2. Strategic thinking is not the preserve of the elite
 3. Strategic thinking should be part of employee development
 4. Time should be devoted to the act of thinking
 5. Training in strategic thinking was largely evaluated as being negative
Enabling Strategic thought:
(Sola, et al. 2014:39)
 Strategic thought can be enabled by making sure the right conditions are in place:
 1 freedom to explore and discuss new and challenging ideas;
 2 the availability of time and resources to think and act creatively;
 3 a willingness on the part of the person to both learn and unlearn; to be ready to ditch old ways of thinking as well as adopting new ones.

Strategic Thinking Process – 1
– Observation – direct (data), indirect a process or procedure, people
– May be positive or negative
– Core challenge – what is preventing goal achievement – articulate them so progress can be checked
– Solution development – is likely to disturb status quo, unsettling, complex with various stages
– Draw the problem
– De bono six-thinking hats

Theory into Practice
Fashion retail is highly competitive, with tight margins and a short product life cycle. Outside issues can impact on sales – such as the weather,

endorsements and so on.
What does the sector look like pictorally?
 Lets apply this to an example – the slideshare is Zara, but we can used another example or sector if anyone has a preference
Assignment 1 – Part 2
 2. Synthesise academic sources to draw on comparisons with contemporary thinking related to strategy. (1100 words)
 What is required – theory into practice – select a strategic thinking model and use a situation that would benefit from the use and application

of strategic thinking to demonstrate the benefits.
 Synthesis means putting ideas together in a different way

Strategic Thinking Process – 3
occur at a later stage …..
– Testing solutions – with associated assumptions and anticipated outcomes
– Lean testing – does it work in practice, pilot test, validate
– Rollout – or pivot (to amend) extend, resources, measure for success

Linking Learning and Strategic Thinking
1. Questioning (non-threatening, insightful move beyond what
2. Observing and listening
3. Data analysis
4. Experimenting
5. Dialogue
6. Debate
7. Discussions
8. Reflection