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How To Benefit From Strategic Thinking

Jul 2, 2008
Have you ever heard of strategic thinking? I hadn't until I took an organizational behavior class where the professor conducted a strategic thinking exercise. For the exercise, we were put into groups and we were to be part of a scholarship committee. We were supposed to use strategic thinking in allocating a strict scholarship budget to a handful of incoming freshmen to the university. Some of my classmates and me would represent the freshmen candidates who would be getting the scholarship.

Each of the candidates had different strengths and obstacles that would come into play for this activity. For example, I was the student that was a high school senior who wouldn't be able to go to college without some scholarship money. Another candidate in need of a scholarship would contribute to the school's music program since she had a great love for music. Another candidate was an athlete. This candidate would be a huge asset to the schools struggling basketball program. The last candidate was quite intelligent and would add great value to the academic realm of the school. Each of us had to develop an argument on why our candidates deserved the scholarship.

Each of us had a few options to consider when forming our arguments.

- Are some of the candidates in need of the scholarship funding than others are?
- Do some of the candidates deserve the scholarship funding more than others?
- Should we evenly divide and distribute the scholarship funds so that every person who needs it can benefit from it?
- Should be lump all of the scholarship money together and award it to the best rounded candidate who would single handedly make the largest impact on the school's reputation?

After each representative made their case about the needs of their candidate, there were a few classmates that decided to pull out of the debate simply because they felt their student that they represented did not need the scholarship money as much as some of the others did. One of the candidates said that he came from a financially stable home and the lack of scholarship funds would not cause him to skip out on a college education. Another candidate said she would rather get a part time job to help fund her education than take away funds from a student that needs it more.

As we began our strategic thinking among committee members, we were able to figure out exactly how to divide the money up so that those who needed the scholarship money the most would benefit from it. In the end, there were only two students that went without scholarships, but it benefited three of the students.

Strategic thinking most always involves a group as it did in our exercise. When working in a group, you can brainstorm, talk about change, and find solutions to each dilemma that you are faced with. We were able to effectively factor the highest priorities of our candidates. This strategic thinking exercise has helped me throughout my college experience and career.
About the Author
CMOE has been helping companies with strategic management and team building since 1978. Through strategic thinking and other innovative business techniques CMOE has established themselves a leader in the business world. Visit www.cmoe.com for more information.
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