Strategic Thinking: what it is and how to do itStrategic Thinking and Planning for Tertiary EducationATEM NSW/ACT
Maree ConwayJuly 2009
1990-2004 (i) Faculty Assistant Registrar Business, (ii) Divisional Manager, Arts, Humanities & Soc. Sci. (iii) Divisional Manager, Policy and Planning, (iv) Director, Foresight and Planning, and (v) Director, Foresight, Planning and Review1978-1980 casual jobs as a student, Graduate ClerkSchool of Humanities1981-84 Student Records Officer,Footscray College of TAFE1986-1989 Student Admin Services Officer at Chisholm Institute of Technology, then Student Administration Manager,Monash, Caulfield AND Secondment as School Executive Officer, School of Physics at La Trobe 19882005-2007 General Manager, Quality, Information and Planning1984-1986 Volunteer at University YWCA, Berkeley1980-1981La Trobe AcademicBoard SecretariatGovernment Information Unit,Commonwealth Govt
2007.integrating long term thinking into strategy development, using futures approaches
Integral Leadership FrameworkBased on the work of Ken Wilber
Integrating the future into your decision making processes today by thinking big, deep and long.Strategic Thinking
Big do we understand how we connect and interact with other organisations and the external environment, both local and global?
Deep how deeply are we questioning our ways of operating?Do we operate from our interpretation of the past, or our anticipation of the future? Are our assumptions today valid into the future?
Long how far into the future are we looking? Do we understand the shape of alternative futures for our organisation?
Thinking Big: Thinking in Systems
Leaders need to learn to see the larger systems of which they are a part.
Shifts focus from optimising their piece of the puzzle to building shared understanding and larger vision.
Thinking Big: Systems ThinkingPeter Senge, The Necessary Revolution, 2008
Forces your attention on:the external environment to understand the impact of change,connections and interdependencies,aligning internal capacity with reality of a constantly changing external environment,identifying strategy that will ensure viability of your organisations into the future.Thinking Big: Systems Thinking
What might seem real to you probably wont seem as real to the next person.not right, not wrong, just is.
How you filter information (your lens) to create meaning is critical to understand.
Underpins our assumptions about what is real and what is not.
Our assumptions encase us in the past.
Assumption 1: Its impossible.
Assumption 2: Im too busy.
Assumption 3: Its irrelevant.
You will know when to test assumptions when the pain of continuing with business-as-usual is greater than the fear of challenging yourself and others.
Thinking Long: Environmental Scanning
Creating graduates for jobs that dont exist, using technology that hasnt been invented, to solve problems that we dont know about yet.
Must understand the shape of this world to be able to lead towards it.In education
OrganisationGlobalIndustryTechnologyLifestyleValuesPoliticsEconomyEnvironmentDemographics &generational changeLearningEducational GamingFundingEngagementOnlineSustainabilityVocationalImperativeThe External EnvironmentGlobalisationWildcardWildcardWildcardWildcard
TodayFutureTIMEUNCERTAINTYLinear FutureLowHighThe linear future is the one we believe to be true, usually based on untested assumptionsUsual Planning Timeframe(3-5 years)Trend
TodayFutureTIMEUNCERTAINTYLinear FutureLowHighPossible FuturesUsual Planning Timeframe(3-5 years)Trend
TodayFutureTIMEUNCERTAINTYLinear FutureLowHighPossible FuturesUsual Planning Timeframe(3-5 years)TrendAnddont forget the wildcard
Whatever takes you away from conventional thinkingTrendsEmerging IssuesThe weird and unimaginable
Scan activelyScan in strange placesScan for diversity of perspectives (not right, not wrong, just is)Scan: know earlier
Look for connections, collisions and intersections.
Collective wisdom.Record and share scanning hits.Gather regularly to explore.Get your whole organisation thinking.Do it often, not once.Scan: know together
Strategic thinking is identifying, imagining and understanding possible and plausible future operating environments for your organisation
and using that knowledge to expand your thinking about your potential future options
about how to position your organisation effectively in the external environment,
in order to make better informed decisions about action to take today.
Putting it all together:What might be and what can we do about it today?
There are no future facts
Types of FuturesTimeTodayFutures Cone developed by Clem Bezold
What will be the shape of the future?
What will be important?
What will be peripheral?
What does it mean for us?
The future might be unknowable, but you can understand a lot about what will influence the future.
The impact of global trends...
and of government policy
Competing for talent
Skilling, re-skilling, up-skilling
Global 2.0 is hereunderstanding and engaging with an array of cultures
Diversity of workforce and student population increasing
...student choice and time, place and pace of learning
how will we learn?
SNACK CULTUREDeconstructing products - smaller, faster, cheaper
Photo: http://www.cyberpunkreview.comIs the singularity real?
How will automation affect our work?
3D PRINTINGMoving to personalised production www.ponoko.comwww.shapeways.com
The way we do business is changing.
and we need to demonstrate our green credentials
ImplicationsStudents how will they learn, what will their experience look like? What will they expect?Staff how will you work, what will a day look like for you? What will you expect of your employer?The organisation how will it have changed? How will it have stayed the same?Learning what will it mean (structure, delivery, assessment, recognition)?Industry what will it look like? How will people work? What skills might be needed?
Focus: critical issue/decision todayScan: two trends likely to affect your decision into the future (think uncertainty not predictability)Interpret: think about how these trends might play out over the next 10 yearsImagine: how your organisation look like in 10 years image/metaphor/book or movie titleDecision: implications/options for your decision today. What will be the same, what might you do differently?
Beyond the short-termBeyond busyWe want to be proactive
But, you cant be proactive unless you have spent time thinking about how you might react to events that have not yet happened.Why do it this way?
Unless you take the time to think strategically, you will always be in crisis management mode and always putting out bushfires.
Reactive Futures assumes linear future
Proactive futures assumes uncertainty
Lets think about how to focus our organisations on the future.
After the eventAnticipating the event
Reactive FuturesProactive Futures
What has happened?What is happening?What caused it to happen?What is driving the trends that will influence our future?What are our alternative futures?
How do we respond?What ought we do today?What would be the long term consequences of our actions today?What will we do now?What will we do now?
Mental filters (patterned responses)Overconfidence (far too certain)Penchant for confirming rather than disconfirming evidence (we miss things)Dislike for ambiguity (want certainty)Group think (Abilene effect)Recognise the blindersPJH Schoemaker and GS Day Driving through the Fog, Long Range Planning 37 (2003): 127-142
Moving beyond pattern response and habitual thinking that no longer works well when uncertainty is dominant.Re-training our brains to make new connections and generate new ideas.
Moving our brains from automatic pilot to manual steering.
Its about changing the way you think
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
What assumptions that underpin how you think about your work now will need to change?
A Challenge: Beyond Busy
The pressures of his job drive the manager to be superficial in his actions - to overload himself with work, encourage interruption, respond quickly to every stimulus, seek the tangible and avoid the abstract, makes decisions in small increments, and do everything abruptly.Henry Mintzberg The Managers Job: Folklore or Fact, HBR, 1975
Managers who get caught in the trap of overwhelming demands become pr