Strategic thinkers explore the uncomfortable unknown

Some people are comfortable with being known as smart and are uncomfortable with feeling stupid. They feel that they should know. However, this emphasis on concrete knowledge could be said to be the conventional and orthodox value.

Strategic thinkers focus more learning rather than knowing. Its fundamentals include a sensitivity to context, a willingness to tolerate the discomfort of ambiguity, and an ambition to explore the unknown.

Martin Schwartz, a scientist, reveals that, as a researcher, he has gotten used to the discomfort and unease associated with not knowing something. He actively seeks out opportunities to feel the discomfort. He notes, “We can’t be sure we’re asking the right question until we get a result from an experiment or an answer from some other valid source.”[i]

The lesson for strategic thinkers is to keep stretching, putting aside the feelings of stupidity and frustration. The fuzzy front end of strategy is a venture into the unknown. The better your questions, the more you increase your probability of learning something interesting and useful.

.…The above is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of How to Think Strategically: Sharpen Your Mind. Develop Your Competency. Contribute to Success., available at all major booksellers. The book’s big idea is that strategic thinking is an individual competency that can be recognized and developed. As individuals steadily improve their capacity to think strategically, the organization gains potential to craft strategy that is good, powerful, effective, clever, and nuanced.

“Careful in its research and organized in a logical fashion, How to Think Strategically is a deft business text. Both effective and complete, the guide is convincing, pushing its readership toward success and toward becoming a more skilled leader. It will be of significant value to senior executives and managers alike.”― Barry Silverstein, Foreword Reviews, August 2019

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