A strategic thinker immediately assesses how much of the situation is within his control and how much is not. Once he breaks the problem down along those lines, he can immediately formulate his plan of attack.
It’s important to note that, when a critical element of a situation is out of his control, a strategic thinker always looks for ways to influence that aspect of the decision. Often, he may be able to affect it in an indirect way. It is this creativity that is the hallmark of strategic thinking.
In a perfect scenario, a strategic thinker will have control over all aspects of a situation or problem. When this happens, he often produces amazingly creative results that no one ever dreamed were possible. This is particularly true when a strategic thinker is involved in formulating plans for a future endeavor.
Unfortunately, even perfect scenarios sometimes produce fiascos. I often hear publishers lament the poor sales of a well-written book. They go on and on about how it just did not sell up to expectations in the first 90 days.
Strategic thinking is often underutilized in the book publishing industry, even though virtually every aspect of the decision-making process related to a book is within the publisher’s control. The publisher controls the price at which the book sells, the dollars attached to its marketing campaign, the release date, the content of the book, and the packaging. Furthermore, the publisher controls the time period used to evaluate the success of the book’s sales.
If a book were marketed like a consumer product – given a sales evaluation period of one year, given a marketing budget that represented a percentage of the per unit retail price, and packaged and released in conjunction with timely events (cookbooks during the holidays) – the results might be quite different.