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It is thrilling to learn to do strategic thinking and to be able to interpret what you see while doing it. As part of a series on strategic thinking I have written about what strategic thinking is and how to do it and the part of anticipation and challenge in strategic thinking. This article will explore what it means to interpret when you are doing strategic thinking. Before we begin, to look at what it means to interpret, let’s review the components of strategic thinking.

Strategic thinking involves several different components. These components include:
1. Anticipation – the ability and use of peripheral vision, the ability to think three or more moves ahead
2. Challenge – the act of questioning, reframing, digging into the roots of a matter
3. Interpret - being able to figure out patterns from multiple data sources
4. Decide – the act of taking a stand, balancing speed and quality in making a determination
5. Align – get all interested parties, all stakeholders with their divergent views to come together
6. Learn – the ability to use failures and successes as resources, debrief and adjust thinking action to match changing circumstances

When talking about strategic thinking, after we anticipate – look around so we can think three or more moves ahead, after we challenge- question and dig into the roots of the matter it is time to interpret – to figure out if there are any patterns or lessons to be learned from the information we have at hand. When we interpret we are able to look at all the various data streams at our disposal and learn what they have to tell us. Some actions and ideas are crystal clear and easily understood. However most often when we do strategic thinking, we need to interpret the situation around us.

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It is important to be able to figure out patterns. When you are doing strategic thinking, you must pay attention and try to understand behavior and trends that you witness. At the same time, I order to do a good job with your strategic thinking you must be able to deal with information from more than one source at a time. In these ways, strategic thinking is a lot like putting a puzzle together when the box contains pieces to more than one puzzle.

To the untrained eye, it may seem like a lot of work to do strategic thinking, but it is well worth the effort. It is worth the effort because strategic thinking allows us to solve the big problems we face. Strategic thinking is what helps us to succeed when we remember that if we fail to plan we plan to fail. It is well worth whatever effort is required.

In conclusion, it is thrilling to learn to do strategic thinking and to be able to interpret what you see while doing it. So, the question for you this thrilling day is, how do you interpret data when you do strategic thinking?

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57 Comments

  1. Dina Demarest

    this is so true. I need to do more processing when I’m thinking on problems.

  2. I need to get better about strategic thinking. I’m always more worried about the drama.

  3. I heard great advice to have your ears really open as you just might hear your next big idea! Great tip to keep thinking and strategizing.

  4. Your posts always challenge me to think. Thanks for the push!

  5. It’s a little like thinking before you speak. We have to strategize! Really great tips!

  6. I have to really stop and strategize more. I usually grab an idea and work it all around with no thought to how or where it will go. Love this food for thought and making me want to do and think more.

  7. Katherine Bartlett

    I really love this post. It made me think

  8. Even with the extra effort, it’s worth it for the outcome. I am super strategic and analytical.

  9. I love your quote, it makes a lot of sense!

    http://www.sailorsmusings.com

  10. I’m a big “thinkg about my challenges” person instead of a reactor. Most of the time it works out well.

  11. I think it’s important to think hard over problems because there could be an easier solution than you think. Sometimes something seems daunting so you’d rather avoid it (which could make it worse eventually) but there could be a better solution than what you initially come up with.

  12. I do enjoy the anticipation phase of strategic thinking. It’s so important to look ahead! I need to work on some other areas, though.

  13. I think we forget how much strategic thinking we do throughout our normal days. Good reminder!

  14. Keikilani Jackson

    This is good. I believe in thinking things out clearly. No matter if it is a goal or a purchase or a move… Anything! Strategic thinking is so crucial to making the right steps in your life.

  15. I always try to stop and think before I make any big decisions. However, if I think too long, I don’t take action.

  16. Rachael Ebner

    Thinking about doing strategic thinking seems confusing. I’ll have to look into this when I have more time to really absorb what you are saying.

  17. QuestionableChoices

    Sometimes it takes me a little while to stop and think about issues from a strategic point of view, but usually I can come up with a plan and several back up plans pretty quickly

  18. You’ve got wonderful business and personal points here. Strategic thinking is valuable in most any situation.

  19. traceynicole

    I always learn so much from your posts. These are great tips.

  20. Mama to 5 Blessings

    great tips, I sometimes have a hard time interpreting what I see and have to really explain.

  21. Great tips..I was talking to my son yesterday about this same subject!

  22. Wow, as a wedding designer, I’m always strategic thinking — how things will layout, what will be needed to keep the mirror standing, why that color cannot be use and so on. It’s part of my everyday thought pattern because it is vital to keep all the moving parts of a wedding together. Without strategic thinking you end up with a HOT MESS!

  23. It’s all about interpretation. Sometimes people just overthink things. – Jenn @ The Rebel Chick

  24. Veronica Solomon

    This a is a great post with valuable information about really thinking through a problem. I am a bit impulsive sometimes and sometimes see what I want to see instead of what’s really there, so this will help me quite a bit

  25. Lois Alter Mark

    I learn so much from your posts. Strategic thinking is so important, although not always easy to do!

  26. Alesha @ Full Time Mama

    I’ve never thought about it this in depth before… Makes a lot of sense! Great tips, thanks for getting my brain going! :)

  27. TheNewClassy

    It’s definitely important to always be a critical thinker. A lot of people look at a problem, see one side of it and roll with it, making assumptions about the rest.

  28. Most days I can look at the. ginger picture and think with my head but now that I have children it is so easy to get emotionally carried away! Thank you for the tips and reminder.

  29. Great tips! I need to make sure I am using all the steps of strategic thinking instead of getting stuck in just one step!

  30. Great strategies here. I always love to see your posts because they make me stop and think!

  31. It may be work, but it’s smarter. Work smarter, not harder. ;)

  32. I definitely need to re-wire the way I think. I tend to get stuck with feelings of stress, I get overwhelmed and then tuck it away for another day. I love these strategies! Thank you!

  33. Wendy Kaufman

    Anticipation! Yes! Learning from the past and applying it to the future. I talk to my husband about this all the time! (Not his strong point.)

  34. A Dash of Sanity

    Sometimes it is all up to interpretation.

  35. Amy Desrosiers

    I try to be strategic when certain situations come up!

  36. Debbie Denny

    Anticipation is great as you look over your strategies.

  37. Another great post that is making me think – although I am a terrible strategic thinker!

  38. Karen Koblan

    I’m not the best strategic thinker. Usually I make snap decisions so this is something I definitely need to work on.

  39. I agree, it’s important to strategically think before becoming emotional! This is something I totally need to work on!

  40. Considering chess makes my head hurt, I’m probably not the best strategic thinker. Need to work on that!

  41. Amy @ Marvelous Mommy

    You are so inspiring! I agree, strategic thinking should come before emotional reactions!

  42. Great tips. It’s always nice to be resourceful with our thinking when it comes to a problem instead of letting it overwhelm us.

  43. These are all excellent tips. I always appreciate your insight!

  44. AshleyWalkup

    Great tips! It’s important to really think about how to tackle a problem before going at it.

  45. We are trying to teach our children about strategic thinking. The oldest one seems to get it, but the youngest is more of an emotional thinker. It’s hard to get her to change her ways!

  46. Love the tips – thank you! I find in my personal life I think strategically, but in my business life I’m floundering and not seeing things the way I should be.

  47. great tips again. strategic thinking should come before emotional reactions

  48. Christine Luken

    Great tips! I find it’s helpful for me to have a business coach to help me look at things from a different perspective to assist with strategic thinking and planning.

  49. Thanks for these tips! I’m like Scott, I try strategic thinking by putting myself in someone else shoes to see what they’re thinking and what are their motives.

  50. These are some great tips! I try to use strategic thinking when I plan too.

  51. And that ‘strategic thinking’ must include putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to determine their motives and needs.

  52. Great tips-I try to employ strategic thinking in all my planning and decisions! Often I make lists and compare.

  53. Saving Common Cents

    This is a really good explanation of how to use strategic thinking. It’s so important to be able to recongize patterns (in other people and ourselves) in order to make the best choices in life.

  54. I used to teach kids with learning disabilities about strategic thinking and though to some of us strategic thinking comes naturally for others it’s something that needs to be learned. I am happy that you write the steps here because this is how people learn and it’s a great skill to learn. Knowledge is power : )

  55. I have actually been working strategic thinking with my kids, too. I figure if I can start teaching them while they are young, it will be a life long skill.

  56. redheadbabymama

    I Love pattern recognition. It’s one of the things that sets humans apart from other animals.

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