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Workshops

Thinking and working strategically

In our flagship two-day workshop you will discover a discipline both more realistic and imaginative than might seem possible. Most of us live inside a very comfortable and accommodating box, but a box nonetheless. Not only do we not think outside the box, we seldom look, step or even wonder what it would be like to leave it.

It is not entirely our own fault. Our schools, corporations, government institutions and economy have mostly set up shop snugly inside the box. We want to believe that’s where everything is happening. Unfortunately, the future is not coming to a box near you. Events of the past decade and ominous presentiments of the next, suggest the extent to which we have no idea. Successful strategy means appreciating how much you don’t know and being ready nevertheless.

Workshop benefits

This workshop offers an opportunity to appreciate the following aspects of strategic thinking:

  • Why planning is essential but forecasting is generally useless
  • Why complacency is so dangerous
  • When trust is vital and when it is fatal
  • How even the best education can become treacherous in practice
  • Proof there is a dynamic state of positive negativity
  • The world of waste and ruin that lurks in misplaced statistics
  • The fine line between overblown and under acknowledged risk
  • How to succeed by first anticipating and then containing failure
  • The rocky road of strategic evolution
  • The invaluable value of radically skeptical empiricism
  • Why we should engage in authentic, powerful and open dialogue
  • The profound capacity of effective resilience
  • How and why we get deference and authority all wrong
  • How to distinguish known unknowns from unknown unknowns and the utterly unknowable

Strategic planning versus strategic thinking

Planning and thinking are complementary parts of a strategic whole. The plan is the architecture or framework for strategic action, but the reflexive conceptualizing that effective decision makers appear to do effortlessly, turns strategy into learning. Which comes first? Thinking and planning are in a chicken and egg relationship: strategic planning entails strategic thinking just as viable strategic thinking implies a conceptual context. In the nineties, debates unfolded over the design versus emergent elements among strategy theorists. The growing consensus is that workable strategy must be anticipated before implementation begins, but will only succeed with the flexibility that comes through a consciously evolving process.

Flagship Praxis workshop: Attributes and benefits of strategic thinking

Artists in every media engage in Strategic Thinking through the audacious act of creation. Consider what they must contend with in bringing a new thing into the world. In going forth with courage into communities which may have little inclination to accept what they have to offer, they must develop the essential attributes that reveal the big picture of the moment – and the moment in the making.

Julia Sloan, author of Learning to Think Strategically has identified five of the core attributes she has found artists and strategic thinkers hold in common. In Praxis workshops we expand her list to eight recasting them as mindsets strategic thinkers have to cultivate:

  1. View mindfulness and resilience as key strategic approaches
  2. Appreciate the value and pursuit of informal learning
  3. Balance strategic thinking and strategic planning
  4. Tolerate conflicting dimensions such as complexity, ambiguity and contradiction
  5. Probe, discern and scale risk in a strategic context
  6. Manage the unexpected and expect the unmanageable
  7. Engage in dialogue without the constraint of meaningless preconditions
  8. Participate in the arts while discovering their role in strategic framing

Through exercises, the review of relevant examples and lively discussion you will meet workshop objectives (and your own expectations) as you acquire the basic knowledge, fundamental skills and key attitudes of the strategic thinker. Mastery of this discipline is a lifelong challenge, but strategic thinking capacity at any level yields rewarding results that can make all the difference.

Other strategic thinking workshops

Every organization has different strategic needs and strengths. As you may have gathered from the two-day workshop benefits list and the whole outline, there are many other areas to explore or emphasize depending on need. We are truly prepared to co-create the workshop each group demands. If the team needs to build up its strategic thinking capacity, we know how to work with dialogue and leverage technology to enhance rather than alienate members. If it looks as if the organization is squandering its collective energy or failing to tap the group imagination we would look at reshaping goals, developing unrealized strengths and building group resilience. At ground level, most organizational challenges are positive opportunities for growth and meaningful productivity.