A Strategic Thinking Model for all places, and all times

Search Google, and you will find nearly 5 million results for ‘strategic thinking model’. Go to Harvard, Wharton, or any other number of other business schools, and they will provide you with dozens of different models for your strategic thinking, almost all for use in different situations or industries.

In other words, complexity reigns supreme.

And that’s the problem in business, really. There’s too much complexity, so much so that a 2010 IBM study of CEOs worldwide identified complexity as the #1 challenge for their companies.

So today we will present you with a Strategic Thinking Model that overarches all Strategic Thinking models – a model that you can use in any industry, and situation, and any place. A model that you can use at home or at school or in your local sports team. And with not a powerpoint in site. Above all, a model that is both simple and collaborative.

We present you with…

The 10S Strategic Thinking Model


The ’10S Strategic Thinking Model’ simplifies your Strategic Thinking without making it simplistic. No matter what situation you are in, your Strategic Thinking will boil down to no more than 10 overarching factors. We call these the ’10 S’s’. A pdf of the 10 S Strategic Thinking Model is here.

For an explanation of each of the factors in the Model, see our earlier post here.

The #1 Reason why you need to use this Model for your framework

Apart from its simplicity, why do you need to use this Model for your framework?

There are many small reasons to do so. And then, there’s one big reason. That reason is that most strategies fail not because of intellectual reasons, but people reasons. Here are some of the contributing factors and , in brackets, the solution to each one:

· People didn’t understand the strategy (simplicity)

· People didn’t buy in (simplicity or collaboration)

· People weren’t enabled to act (empowerment / strengths / steps)

· The Strategy didn’t fully understand the environment (situation / suppositions)

· The wrong people were assigned to the wrong roles (strengths)

· The strategy was simply too ambitious given the resources in hand (situation, scope and strengths)

It’s not difficult to see how the simple and collaborative process used in The 10S Strategic Thinking Model can overcome many of these unnecessary problems.

‘Groundhog Day’ in Strategic Thinking

This article on Forbes fleshed out some of the reasons above in more depth. But you can see the pattern. Strategy so often seems to be beset by the following ‘Groundhog Day’-type cycle. In this cycle, strategy is…

· Something highly complex that only the best of minds can grasp, and

· Needs to be written in tomes or lengthy reports, meaning that…

· Only the best of minds can grasp it (confusing / alienating the troops), and…

· There was absolutely no buy-in from the troops at strategy formulation phase, meaning…

· They wouldn’t be that committed to it if they understood it anyway, and also…

· The guy writing the strategy missed all the opportunities of obtaining their ‘boots on the ground’ perspectives when writing the strategy.

…Is it any wonder that most strategies are not executed on?

How to use the 10S Strategic Thinking Model

The 10S redefines the Strategic Thinking process making it:

✓ simple, and

✓ collaborative

Instead of Strategy being driven ‘top-down’, it is led by a ‘bottom-up’ process where teams use the process to pick up all the key factors happening in their various fields (Situation). Strengths are leveraged. Some of these will be global (i.e. strength of company brand). Others may be local (i.e. quality of technical support). The plan is created and remains fluid enough so that the ground troops can ‘flex the Steps’ so that they can deliver the Strategy (for an example of this, check out how Nordstrom empowers their sales staff).

Bottom line: the 10S Strategic Thinking Model achieves the simplicity and empowerment that most strategies fatally fail to do, and also leads to better-informed strategies in the first place by completing a thorough ‘Situation’ analysis. And the same framework can confidently be applied time and again to different situations.

Tell us what you think!

We’d love to hear your feedback on the Strategic Thinking Model, so please add your comments below!