As a part of my reading for my day job, I’ve pulled in a lot of material about strategy. Grand strategy, operational strategy, definitions of strategic thinking and even some hyper-specific examples of the characteristics of a strategic thinker. From what I can tell, the conversation comes down to two general sides of the argument for strategy.
One side, and for the sake of this argument we will call them the Centrists but they go by many names, holds that strategy and strategic thinkers in general are few and far between. A good strategic thinker should be the spider in the web that holds the entirety of an organization together. They should be the driving factor in setting policy, and will likely be in a senior leadership position. They may also be advisors to senior leadership, but the main point here is that the belief that strategic thinkers are rare.
There is however another side to the story. In a distributed concept of strategy and strategic thinkers, strategic thinking is something that can be taught and taught well. This is by no means an easy task, but it comes down to a belief that a person can change their paradigm; the way they make sense of the facts they find in the world. This distributed concept of strategic thinking holds that all levels of an organization should think strategically, or at least have a strong grasp of the strategic implications of their day-to-day actions. This requires a high level of education.
Now as we don’t live in idealized states and thought experiments, and money and resources will always be finite, the way these two concepts get put into practice will very widely depending on the organization.
However, I believe that if resources are available, more education for everybody is always going to be better. You may still not have distributed authorities or will to act, but I believe that the distributed method of strategic thinking will make every organization better. As they say, many hands make light work.