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Lead Your Team Managing

Are You a Strategic Thinker? Most Managers Aren't

Despite their rise to the top of their companies, many managers fail when it comes to thinking strategically, new research says.

About 900 managers completed the recent Strategic Thinking Assessment, which judged their ability to create new ideas and insights to help companies succeed; their average score on the test was only 60 points out of 100.

Rich Horwath, founder of The Strategic Thinking Institute and a former chief strategy officer, conducted the research to help demonstrate why a tactical — versus strategic — way of thinking won’t often lead to success.

Too regularly, he said, managers spend time worrying about putting out fires rather than figuring out ways to make the business grow and flourish.

“We live in an action-oriented society,” Horwath told BusinessNewsDaily. “People are afraid to take time to sit back and think about their business.”

The new research backs up a recent Harris Interactive study of 154 companies that revealed only three of every 10 managers are strategic.

A lack of strategic thinking can have devastating results on a business, Horwath said, pointing to the reality that bad strategy is the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy for businesses. 

“If they are thinking like that,” Horwath said of managers not forming strategies and thinking strategically, “there might not be a company tomorrow.”

The problem, Horwath said, is that many managers haven’t been given the knowledge and tools to think strategically. Businesses need to invest more time in training their managers, he said, to help foster new ideas and practices.

“They are not just going to appear,” Horwath said of new insights. “To think that is completely unrealistic.”

One difficulty, Horwath said, is that many businesses operate off instant gratification — and never take the time to see new ideas through.

“Good strategy and good strategic thinking takes some time to come to fruition,” Horwath said.

Horwath offers strategic planning training to help amp up strategic thinking in companies, and said businesses that completed his course saw a 30 percent increase in advanced thinking capabilities from their managers.

Such results, Horwath said, demonstrate how a change in corporate strategy can lead to statistically rewarding results.

“If we think first, it gives us a better chance to be successful,” Horwath said.


Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.