Looking at the basic concepts of cognitive Strategic Management

23 Jun


Strategic management should exist at all levels of management for it to have any value and impact. This is well taught and understood, however, we never teach cognitive strategy, the part where we need critical thinking, to put it all together, the theory and the practice. With that said, it must be seen to be overlapping and intersecting, like limbs on a body. For the theory on strategy is all good, but without the mental maps, and critical thinking we can’t draw strategic deductions, then things are just organised chaos.

Strategy needs a tight fit between mental and practical application. Because it gets easily influenced both by internal aspects; like culture, perception, structure, policy, politics, finances, perception and bias, to name but a few, all of them way to powerful forces to trust not to interfere.


Thant’s just internally, then we still need to go externally, starting with the immediate environment surrounding the habitat; legislation, rates and taxes, infrastructure, government policy, local area challenges, etc… The point is strategy is part of something; therefore it connects to everything else, before it gets its own character and purpose.

Strategy derived from a need, a necessity, tends to serves a purpose. It aligns parts to form a whole, to steer an agenda with.

This process needs more insight; the thin line that joins cognitive and relative, as we navigate strategy we find many more diversions, setting in. Everyone and thing seems to want to divert us. Therefore it’s important to be systematic and critical when thinking, and applying a strategic mind set. It requires a set process…that will unite and focus efforts…

The cognitive strategic management process consists of four legs;

  • Problem statement – the “thing” that defines a problem for us – the message that we get, the email, the news etc. That originated as a result of an observation communicated, by going through a cognitive process that looks like this;
  1. Observation – where we become aware of a problem as it exists
  2. Orientation – where we find our situational analysis, where are we in relation to this problem, are we part of the problem, affected, not affected, could be affected…where do we stand in relation to this aspect. And how will that effect us; negative, not at all, or positive?
  3. Information; we gather information and data to establish more certainty, and get clarity, that become facts if we deem it necessary and appropriate, to steer a course of action.

If not we ignore or inform someone else about it, and move on.

  1.  Facts then speak to us, and informs us of the real situation, it then dictates, again, how we act, or don’t.
  • Possible solutions
  1. Quantify and qualify – we then tend to weigh our options, by quantifying and qualifying these aspects related to the problem. We tend to look at resources next…
  • Resource required
  1. Financial impact – how much will it cost, will it be cost effective, do we have the budgets etc…
  2. Capacity and capability – do we have the capacity and capability, or will we need to get it, find it, improve or build on it?
  3. Limitations of application – everything in life has limitations, now we become aware of what they are in this instance…
  • Implementation
  1. Evaluation – orientation and act – this aspect relates to how we then decide to deal with this problem statement – if at all, and then we get the strategy formulation going, that will or should dictate the steps, policy and procedure to be followed, as a result…we then command and control the rollout.
  2.  Command and control – is naturally included in the formulation of strategy… who, what, where, when and how, and lately how much too?
  3. As we implement we get Feedback, that then requires evaluation and control – to calibrate, align and navigate the strategy, to seal the deal here…

The animal has many forms

There are many forms of strategic managing and planning; some include detailed plans with risk, and SWOT analysis amongst the basics. Some plans are a page others span volumes.

And faces

Strategic management should be understood to include strategies, goals and tactics. Strategies are company-level, and organisational level plans, often expressed as grand strategy or companies mission. Goals are specific targets set for individual groups or units within an organization. Goals are designed to be more practical than strategies and to set the stage for achieving the aims of such strategies. Where tactics are seen to be the skills people bring in achieving these goals with, more practical and specific actions.

The cognative process of strategy

The process of dicion making and implinetion of strategy gets stuck, when it becomes highly political and testing. Political when it gets ringfenced – to include and exlude certain things – , and stressing when no one can agree on the process, the principles and the outcome desired, let alone the details. Then it requires cognative control and critical thinking…

When you think about strategy, you are in essence thinking about maps, concepts, and patterns of design…

People are all differ in the manner in which they see, and perceive strategy, especially in the mind’s eye. Now when we tell them they are not supposed to think this way, or include that, and then this, we interfere with normality. The mind then becomes distorted, and so to the reasoning. It becomes emotional. This is where strategy is conceived. Then it stands to reason that; we need to unite our strategy formulation processing at this level,(Cognitive) so that we can have unified set processes in the flowing of a design path, with the making of strategy.

In summery

Two elements/ components are required here, that must be thought and practiced;

  • Critical thinking and – disciplined intellectual criticism that combines research, knowledge of historical context, and balanced judgment. That follows a mental path, or map, or recipe, to formulating a strategic plan.
  • Cognitive controlunderstanding the mind – and the acquisition of knowledge, and how it works with knowledge under changing situations and conditions.

Strategic mental awareness must be become a prerequisite to perform the function of strategic design with…not just a degree, and the theory.

People need to be taught how to think sober/ critical again, and be able to wean out pesky influences…

Get the book that goes deep into this, with all the detail required right here

6 Responses to “Looking at the basic concepts of cognitive Strategic Management”

  1. Leo August 10, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    I agree wholeheartedly that there needs to be a connection between the mental process of creating strategy and the application of strategy to real world problems. My concern is that what I tend to see is that people get overwhelmed and/or intimidated when you start discussing strategy. Even though their planning process might be a strategy process, they prefer to call it planning because it makes it seem easier. And this fear of the word strategy sometimes creates a political process wherein the umpire is just as emotionally charged about the process as everyone else involved.

    Do you have any ideas about how to mitigate this phenomena?

    • Reinier Geel August 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

      Sun Tzu: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.” herein my friend is the key…

      Leo: I don’t think we are ever afraid of strategy, as much as we are lost to its application in practice…

      By saying that, I am implying everyone is a strategist in his own mind, but very few are strong at leadership and both management. Then politicians rule the roost.

      • Leo September 8, 2012 at 4:11 am #

        Excellent response. Thank you. I would have gotten back sooner but I am easily sidetracked.


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