Contrary to belief, there are differences between the two.

Strategic thinking is the process of anticipating future trends, identifying opportunities and threats, and planning accordingly to achieve long-term goals. It involves:

  1. Big Picture Focus: Looking beyond immediate tasks and considering the broader implications and future impact.
  2. Goal-Oriented Planning: Setting clear, long-term objectives and determining the best paths to achieve them.
  3. Analytical Skills: Evaluating data and trends to make informed decisions.
  4. Creative Problem Solving: Thinking outside the box to find innovative solutions to complex challenges.
  5. Resource Allocation: Determining how best to utilize available resources to meet strategic goals.

Foresight is the practice of systematically anticipating and preparing for potential future developments. It involves:

  1. Intelligence Gathering: Collecting data and insights from a variety of sources.
  2. Trend Analysis: Identifying and analyzing trends that could impact the future.
  3. Scenario Planning: Creating different plausible future scenarios to explore potential outcomes.
  4. Strategic Option Generation: Developing a range of strategic options based on possible future scenarios.
  5. Proactive Decision Making: Making informed decisions today to better prepare for tomorrow's uncertainties.

Together, strategic thinking and foresight enable organizations to navigate uncertainty, adapt to change, and seize opportunities for growth and innovation.

Here's my complete archive of articles about strategic thinking and foresight.

Design ceremonies like sprints, workshops, reflection are effective, transformational, and a lot of fun. They’re introduced, by in large, to challenge the traditional ways business leaders make decisions. In my experience, people really enjoy participating in these ceremonies inspired and full of creative energy and ideas. But as soon as they walk out of the room or the sprint ends, they become deflated when the realities of executive expectations and company culture hit.

Creative teams struggle taking workshop concepts and communicating the impact to competitive advantage. Partners struggle to take innovative ideas and match them up to the expectations of viability or feasibility. As a result, individuals lean back into their preferred approaches of problem solving and are left competing with each other rather than advocating for a collective impact. Change doesn’t happen.

5 areas to grow your business acumen

When I became a Sr. Design Manager for the first time about ten years ago, I was excited for the opportunity to build a team from scratch and have a strategic impact on the organization I joined. That first year was overwhelming.

Despite learning many business skills, my anxiety levels rose day after day because those skills did not translate to having the impact I wanted. I was frustrated by the slow pace of bridging those skills into acumen.

By observing the behaviors of my colleagues and stakeholders in meetings, workshops, or hallway conversations, I better recognized that my colleagues behaved one way when acting in their role and another way when acting as an individual. Acknowledging that these differences existed allowed me to know whether I needed to address a decision-making problem with an individual (micro-level), the team (meso-level), or the organizational (macro-level); whether it was a trust, confidence, or empowerment issue.

There was something magical about addressing the motivations, frustrations, and annoyances across teams while aligning on a strategy or plan.

With these skills you'll:

  1. Learn about your organization: Get a better picture of the business, people, and systems with empathy and visualizations.
  2. Understand functional value: Model how value is created, delivered, and captured by design as a function and for whom.
  3. Map objectives, measures, and outcomes: Link the objectives, measures, and ROI math of the company to quality.
  4. Make trade-off decisions: Framing recommendations in ways to be heard.
  5. Negotiate effectively: Align on possibilities all partners can live with.

Looking for more articles about personal growth? Scroll the bottom of this page for more.

Share your unfinished work.

Sharing your unfinished work invites collaboration, feedback, and new perspectives. It demonstrates vulnerability and openness, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and learning. By sharing, you show trust in your team, which can lead to stronger, more innovative outcomes.

A little tension helps.

Healthy tension can drive creativity and innovation. It pushes you to think critically, challenge assumptions, and explore new ideas. Embracing tension as a positive force can lead to breakthroughs and more robust solutions. It’s about finding the balance where tension fuels progress without leading to conflict.

Reflect often and deliberately.

Regular reflection helps you understand your strengths and areas for growth. It allows you to learn from your experiences, make informed decisions, and set meaningful goals. Deliberate reflection ensures that you’re not just reacting to events but actively shaping your path as a leader.

Connection is key to empowerment.

Building strong connections with your team fosters trust, collaboration, and mutual respect. When people feel connected, they’re more likely to share ideas, support each other, and work towards common goals. Empowered teams are more engaged, productive, and motivated.

You can create a better version of yourself.

Personal growth is a continuous journey. By committing to self-improvement, you can develop new skills, overcome challenges, and achieve your full potential. Believing in your ability to grow and evolve keeps you motivated and resilient in the face of setbacks.

Connection before content.

Establishing a personal connection with your audience or team members creates a foundation of trust and understanding. People are more likely to engage with and be receptive to your ideas when they feel a personal connection. Prioritizing relationships ensures that your message is heard and valued.

How you talk about yourself deeply affects your perspective.

The language you use to describe yourself shapes your self-image and mindset. Positive self-talk can boost your confidence and resilience, while negative self-talk can undermine your abilities and motivation. Being mindful of your inner dialogue helps you maintain a constructive and empowering outlook.

Let go of certainty.

Embracing uncertainty allows you to be more adaptable and open to new opportunities. In a rapidly changing world, flexibility and willingness to take risks are essential for growth and innovation. Letting go of the need for certainty helps you navigate ambiguity with confidence and curiosity.

Do the right thing.

Integrity is the cornerstone of effective leadership. Making ethical decisions builds trust and respect among your team and stakeholders. When you consistently do the right thing, even when it’s difficult, you create a culture of honesty, accountability, and moral courage.

These rules are designed to help you cultivate a leadership style that is authentic, reflective, and empowering. By embracing these principles, you can inspire your team, foster innovation, and achieve sustainable success as a design leader.

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