What Makes a Person Into a Strategist?



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Strategy > Best Practices > What Makes a Person Into a Strategist?

What Makes a Person Into a Strategist?
Bayissa Milkessa, Business Consultant, Ethiopia, Member
It is really difficult to become a strategist without having the personality / behavior that makes a person into a strategist. I believe a strategist' personality is the product of proactive behavior.
We need to cultivate proactive behavior among business men so that they will be more proactive than reactive. With that I mean that they will be self-initiated, anticipatory and action-aimed at averting their situation to a more favourable environment.
In general, if we succeed in developing proactive behavior among the business community, it becomes simpler to find strategists who embrace creativity, innovation and futuristic thinking.

What Makes a Person Into a Strategist?
Luis, Manager, China, Member
I agree being proactive is an important step to grow as a strategist, but it's also necessary to:
2. Think from a big picture
3. Master some analysis mechanism, and
4. Be able to consider the feasibility of implementation.

What Makes a Person a Strategist
NVDS.RAJU, Professor, India, Member
Yes. Proactive behaviour is a most desirable trait in business strategy and will certainly yield good dividends.

What makes Someone into a Strategist?
Bayissa Milkessa, Business Consultant, Ethiopia, Member
Proactive behavior is not only an important step as said by friend @Luis, but I believe it is the CORNERSTONE for having a strategist. Since it consists of acting in advance of future situations, it makes things happen.
On the other hand, it does not involve adjustment to the changing situation nor awaiting for things to happen like an Ostrich Manager (Editor: ~a manager who would prefer to put their head in the sand rather than deal with problems). As result, a strategist goes beyond being adaptive which is about responding to a change.
I can conclude that proactive behaviour is the fundamental source of strategists, because it innovates and initiates change for a better future.

What Makes a Person Into a Strategist
Dean Gilbertson, Director, United States, Member
Effective strategic planning is about "thinking outside the box" for effective outcomes. It is also realizing that 8 of 10 strategies are not effective due to development of a "final goal date" as opposed to changing the goal dates as part of the strategic process.

What Makes a Person Into Strategist
Bayissa Milkessa, Business Consultant, Ethiopia, Member
@Dean Gilbertson: thanks for your note that "effective strategic planning is about thinking outside the box" for good output.
I agree with you. But observe that effective strategic planning is requiring more of thechnocratic bahaviour as compared to strategic thinking which is the product of proactive behaviour.
You said that "8 of 10 strategies are not effective due to the development of a final goal". What kind of trait do the crafters of these 10 strategies possess while crafting them? In my country most of the strategies are either copied without considering the contextual environment for which they were made, or crafted by somebody who does not possess the proactive trait.
As a result, it is very difficult to get effective strategies.
That brings me back to saying that it is this trait of a person crafting the strategy that somehow determines its effective outcome.

What Makes a Person a Strategist
Alan Kennedy
I would argue that a good strategist is someone who understands what is under his or her control and what is not. Strategy is a choice of action and is under the control of the strategist. Strategy is chosen to address a factor or factors outside the control of the strategist.
Steve Jobs was an extraordinary strategist because his strategies (choices of action under his control) were based on a deeply informed understanding of how technology was likely to evolve and the likely customer demand for that technology. Both of these factors were not under his control.
On the other hand, Kodak clearly either could not make sense of changing external factors outside its control or was not able to make choices appropriate to address that changing reality.
Apple continues to thrive. Kodak is now bankrupt.

What Makes Someone a Strategist?
John Henry, Manager, United States, Member
Strategists look beyond themselves (their control) and past the present (even a person who is proactive is stuck in the present) and look toward a future they envision.
The strategy then becomes attaining the right future based on a realistic understanding of the present, without the limitations if it, and moving the collective (organization, business, group, etc) beyond their current capabilities and limitations toward the strategic goal.
So a strategist has two roles:
- First, identifying what the future good looks like, and then,
- Secondly, (beyond proactive thought) moving in a strategic way, avoiding the temptation of firefighting, toward the right way. And envisioning the organization that will become legendary and successful.

Proactive Thought versus Strategic Thought
Bayissa Milkessa, Business Consultant, Ethiopia, Member
@John Henry said that strategist must go beyond proactive thought with a view of envisioning the future. Partly I agree with you in the sense that strategic thought is the product of proactive thought.
I believe that one can not be strategist without having proactive thought. So proactive understanding of things which are present now or in the future is the baseline for being a strategist in any business environment.
Do you think that one can go beyond proactive thought without being proactive?

Strategic Thought is Applied Proactive Thought
Ken Gordon MBA PMP, Strategy Consultant, United Kingdom, Premium Member
A strategist must be a proactive individual. The very act of being or becoming a strategist, is to have reviewed the potential for impact on the environment and to have determined the strategic level to be the appropriate level at which to apply influence i.e. proactive thought.
This coupled with the the necessity to absorb, and make sense of, significant volumes of 'relevant' knowledge regarding his environment; relating to the constraints and opportunities for influence, requires the additional trait of discrimination applied to the knowledge gained.
Then must be added the ability to project the potential results of the application of the influence he is able to apply, into an unknowable future with the expectation of beneficial results.
All of this takes a vast degree of self awareness and self confidence, that is only nurtured by the proactive nature of the individual being applied to himself and his environment in a positive manner.

Proactive Trait is also a Salient to Develop to the State of Maturity
Bayissa Milkessa, Business Consultant, Ethiopia, Member
We all somehow agree the proactive thought is the fundamental ground to be a strategist.
On top this, having this proactive trait is essential to reach a state of maturity. By state of maturity, I mean the fullness whereby an individual knows what he/she has, what has been taken away from him/her, and fighting to regain what has been taken and to share all opportunity with competitors. So as a business adviser we need to bring all firms to the state of maturity.

Developing the Ability to Strategize
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
One of the first lessons that those who decide to take their Advanced Drivers Licence learn is to change their point of focus. Most people concentrate on a point about 15 - 20m in front of the vehicle they drive and, as a result, have little time to alter their course, or react, in case of emergency. When learning for the Advanced licence, we are taught to focus on a point as far in front of the vehicle as we can see, using our peripheral vision to warn us of closer danger.
The same applies in our Strategic Thinking. A tactician concentrates on the "now" to improve the situation, while the strategist concentrates on the end state and how to get there. I hope this allegory helps to clarify the process and encourage everybody to change your point of focus!

Attributes of a Good Strategist
Stephen Ofori, Ghana, Member
Strategy is about "looking forward". It's about being able to anticipate the future and working towards that future now. I agree being proactive is one thing; however the ability to anticipate the future based on a deep understanding of your business environment and the changes to come makes you a good strategist; not just being proactive.
The skill of looking forward is developed over time based on the industry, market, and appreciating the externalities that influence your business. How you use your inherent skills in 'foretelling' and wether you are able to take advantage/leverage it, to reduce your risks, and to eventually grow you business makes you a good strategist.
Such skills can be fed with information, trends, forecasting techniques, market intelligence etc. Once you can analyze, mine data, etc., and ask the key relevant strategic question "Why?" (why the problem, why the strategy proposed would work etc.) and implement a strategy and see it work, that eventually makes you a good strategist.


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