What Is Strategic Thinking?

Strategic thinking is forward-looking, creative, and flexible. Although strategic thinking is often associated with the world of business and marketing, we actually use it on a daily basis.
What Is Strategic Thinking?
Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 09 April, 2023

When we hear about strategy and strategic thinking, we almost immediately think of the business world. However, broadly speaking, strategic thinking is a way to achieve a solid plan and is something we do on a daily basis. In other words, when thinking this way, we pursue an objective and define the means and resources to achieve it. So, what does strategic thinking really involve?

Well, this is a process that involves intentional and rational thoughts to analyze the advantages and vulnerabilities that will influence the pursuit of a certain objective. And although it’s usually linked to business development, the truth is that it can be implemented in many other areas of life. Let’s take a close look.

What is strategic thinking and what characterizes it?

Strategic thinking is oriented toward the future or towards the achievement of an objective through specific actions. It involves thinking about three components:

  1. What do I want to achieve? (Objective)
  2. How am I going to do it? (Strategy)
  3. What actions and with what resources should I use? (Tactics)

Therefore, it’s the opposite of having a rigid attitude or always walking the same paths. On the contrary, it aims to change the ways of solving a situation, even by learning new skills.

An article shared through Harvard Business School Publishing highlights that, through strategic thinking, people involved in an organization continually look for new ways to contribute to the organization’s success.

Let’s take a closer look at what it involves.

Strategic thinking allows for a long-term vision

A couple planning for the future
There are

many aspects of daily life in which strategic thinking can be applied.

Strategic thinking goes beyond a short-term vision and allows us to look beyond the short-term to place our actions in a broader context.

It offers a vision of the whole and the parts

It’s not only relational thinking that takes into account the way in which the different aspects of a situation influence and interact, but it’s also capable of having a global and individual vision – that is, between the parts and the whole.

Strategic thinking allows the analysis of benefits and risks

Strategic thinking performs a SWOT analysis, i.e. the strengths and opportunities that facilitate a given objective, as well as the threats and weaknesses that could hinder it.

This is very remarkable, since it’s not a type of reasoning that moves in the poles; it’s not just optimistic or pessimistic, but takes into account the different nuances of a situation.

Strategic thinking helps to establish priorities

Strategic thinking is all about setting priorities. In this case, this type of thinking recognizes that it’s better to be guided by a step-by-step plan, since it’s not possible to achieve everything since both time and resources are limited.

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The benefits of strategic thinking

Strategic thinking offers different advantages when solving a problem. Among them, we find the following.


It makes all the resources available to the person to find an adequate response. In other words, it encourages a person to use all of their resources to find a solution. Thus, it’s a great way to be creative and “think outside of the box.”

It shows us more than one perspective

By taking into account different approaches to the same situation, it allows us to bring into play not only what we think, but also the perspectives of everyone else involved.

For example, if we think of a family move, a person would not only analyze the objective of moving. They would also take into account the timing, try to reach a consensus according to the activities of the other members of the family, try to decide on a new location that is comfortable for everyone, and so on.

Strategic thinking allows us to be more productive

By being goal-oriented, it’s possible to be more efficient in the choice and use of the necessary resources. In addition, knowing our weakest and strongest sides also allows us to leverage our talents and those of others around us.

Tips for applying strategic thinking

El pensamiento estratégico puede aplicarse en la vida diaria
It’s important to acquire tools to develop strategic thinking step by step.

Not everyone is aware of the importance of strategic thinking until they learn it somewhere. Therefore, a series of techniques must be put in place to adapt to it and make the most of it.

Control anxiety and stop to think

Because of anxiety and a need for control, we often get carried away with having an immediate response. This prevents us from stopping to consider the various scenarios and analyze different variables.

Strategic thinking is dedicated to a thorough and detailed analysis, instead of making hasty decisions.

Having diverse experiences

It’s said that thinking is strategic because it’s flexible and creative, and is able to see all the factors of a situation. Therefore, to stimulate creative thinking, it’s useful to read about different disciplines, engage in different leisure activities, and meet new people, among other things.

It’s very important to get in touch with new experiences, instead of always staying with the “already known” and in the infamous comfort zone.

It encourages us to exchange ideas with other people

In line with the previous point, this type of thinking is also nourished by the ideas and opinions of other people. It requires an active look, open listening, and the ability to decenter ourselves and make room for diversity. Thus, we’re forming a vision of the world that incorporates different realities and in which we’re not the only ones.

Like this article? You may also like to read: What to Do to Stop Overthinking? 6 Tips

Strategic thinking applies to various areas of our lives

Strategic thinking is often considered to belong to the field of organizational or business disciplines. However, if we dig a little deeper, we can understand that it’s composed of many different facets and can be applied to all areas of life.

Looking at the whole and being future-oriented is what defines a strategy, but it’s also something we apply on a daily basis in our routines. Just as we define business plans to achieve certain objectives, for example, we also share resources in a family to make ends meet.

As we can see, this type of thinking has a lot to offer us. It’s worth working on it and addressing it together with our emotions. It’s also worth remembering that no one is born with the ability to act on their strategic thinking; rather, this is acquired with practice and experience.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.