Becoming a Strategic Thinker

During a recent performance review, I was given the feedback that while I was strong in execution, the part on my strategy could be work on. Looking at things from a bigger picture and a longer term period.

I have always been a big believer execution. A grand plan with a lousy execution means nothing at all. I understand that you could say the same for “a lousy plan with a perfect execution means nothing at all” too. So here is an audio-book I have listen, which I like with you all. Also taking this opportunity to write it down so that I can remember.

Strategy Rules by David B. Yoffie


It talks about the lessons learn from Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs. Honestly, I did not know who is Grove till I listen about him in this book. Which also makes me wanting to learn more about him, “High Output Management” is another book that I would go for after I finish my current.

There are 5 key lessons being shared in this book. If you google for this book, I am sure you can easily get the summaries 5 lessons. I’m sharing what I can remember and what I feel most connected with me.

The most memorable point in this book is about “Look Forward, Reason Backward”. This principle is also part of Game Theory.

  • Looking forward, means a leader need to be able to see or move 2-3 steps ahead of others.
  • Reason Backward, means to get forward to step 3, what are the things I should be focusing on now.

In that chapter there are parts that relate to setting the vision, how to anticipate competitions, setting up barriers and anticipate demands.

A part of me starts to think, how do I move 2-3 steps ahead of others. I am not super smart, most of the time, I spot trend later than others. If this is the case, what should I be doing.

3 things I learn about myself and how I can be better at “Look Forward, Reason Backward”

  1. Read more on a topic with a focus. For example, when borrowing books, get the a few books on a common topic. This you learn how different authors see a topic in different manner and you dive deeper into the topic.
  2. Use my strength, I am good with execution. It is alright for am to spot trend slightly later than others. As long as the competition is not too far ahead, I do have an opportunity. For example, Facebook is not the first social media site.
  3. Take small bets. If I spot a trend. Take small bets. Work on it. If I lose, I lose time, maybe some capital. But I gain experience and I took action. Also I learn that when I lose, do not only ask how much I have lost and instead ask how did I lose? What was the factors that lead me to the decision. [aka not outcome thinking but system thinking]

Here’s what I learn, I hope you learn something too. I think this book is worth listening if you are starting out in becoming a strategic thinker. And oh, the next book I am on is Loonshots by Safi Bahcall.