Reflections on Different Thinking Styles
T.H Huxley, an English biologist says very well that “While the need for both logical and creative thinking is clear, this does place strategists in a rather awkward position of needing to bring two partially contradicting forms of thinking together in one strategic reasoning process”1. Creating a common conducive environment for both kind of thinking is difficult. However awkward it may be to find a right balance between logical and creative thinking, the fact is that the strategic thinking is the combination of analytical and critical thinking. Depending on the nature of business environment, the strategic decision making involves a right balance between the critical thinking and analytical thinking.
Strategic problems are the real time problems, which are more relative and volatile to external trends of triple bottom line; Economy, Social and Environment. Finding the solutions to these problems needs creativity and the critical thinking provides this aspect. However as Mr Kenichi Ohmai says”Strategists do not reject analysis, Indeed they can hardly do without it”2, the strategic thinking needs analytical thinking as its part. The Analytical thinking known for its decisiveness and clarity is best suited to test or validate the emerging ideas.
For Strategic thinking, I would prefer using the model presented by Henry Mintzberg and Frances Westley in their article “Decision-making: It’s not what you think”3, who argue that analytical way of thinking helps only for certain kind of problems, which has some level of certainty associated with them. As per their model, mangers take strategic decisions using three models of reasoning; Thinking First, Seeing First and Doing first. The Thinking First model starts with the problem definition, followed by diagnosis of the causes, design of various possible solutions and finally the selection of best solution. The Seeing First model recommends visualising the solutions first and then working towards its achievement. The “Doing First” model suggests to experiment, i.e. to implement the solutions first and then learning from those implementation. Here, the Thinking First model is based on analytical model, while Seeing First and Doing First are based on critical thinking, which uses creativity to visualize the problem and realize the solution. Combination of all the 3 models gives a powerful approach for strategic thinking.The resultant approach uses the strength of both critical and analytical thinking. The Seeing First model can be useful in providing the vision for strategic thinking, Thinking First can be useful in creating the plans for the solutions and Doing First helps in implementing the plan.
To summarize, all the three types of thinking, i.e. the analytical, the critical and the strategically thinking can be used effectively based on the size and the context of problem. The Analytical thinking is best suited for the problems, where the real cause can be found by following certain steps. It is suited for problems of smaller magnitude. For example, finding a solution to, why a manufacturing company is losing its profits?
The critical thinking is best suited for the problem which are large in nature, where...