Strategic Thinking: Smart Choices

Career Girls women Role Models explore strategic thinking and making smart choices
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Smart Choices (2:45)

“To think strategically is really to think about not only when, when you’re solving a problem, not only, the quick easy solution, but once you make that solution, what are the potential ramifications of that solution down the line.”

Role models in order of appearance: Jennifer Kenny, Chris Meda, Donna Blackshear-Reynolds, Michaela Rose, Jocelyn Allen, and Sonya Evans.

Quick Start

1) Strategic thinking is a broad type of thinking where you look at the larger, overarching path. What advice do the role models give to help you think strategically? How might you approach a problem or begin to think about possible solutions when thinking strategically?

2) One role model told us that strategic thinking “is about thinking of options.” Think of a problem that you have or something that bothers you in your school or community. What options can you imagine to help solve this problem? How might taking the time to think of many possible solutions help you solve the problem more effectively?

3) Listeners learned that thinking strategically means to consider how many small choices all add up to a larger decision. What is one goal that you have for yourself in the future? What decisions or actions that you take today will have an impact on this future goal? How do you know?

4) One role model told us that “to think strategically… is not only to think of the quick, easy solution, but… to think about the potential ramifications down the line.” Thinking of your goal from Question 3, what ramifications or outcome can you imagine if you meet your goal? What if you don’t meet your goal? How might meeting or not meeting this goal impact your life?

5) Strategic thinking isn’t only useful when trying to meet your own personal goals. Strategic thinking is also a very powerful tool for your future career. How might you use strategic thinking in your future career? What types of problems might you try to solve using this method of thinking? Why?

6) The final bit of advice from our role models was not to “take the day for granted.” What does it mean to take something for granted? Why do you think our last role model cautioned us not to take the day for granted? How could you apply this bit of advice to your life?

Video Transcript

Strategic thinking has traditionally been understanding what the game is that we’re playing, understanding who the players are on the field or on the board, and what is the most effective way to win.

You step back, you look at all the paths, and then you decide, okay, we’re going this way. It’s a broad thinking. It’s not tactical, it’s not like tomorrow I’m gonna open, you know, do this, this, and this. It’s not tasks, it’s looking at the overarching path. And I always like to use a whiteboard. I get up to the whiteboard and I say, okay, here’s path one, here’s path two, here’s path three. All based on points of view and also facts.

To think strategically is really to think about not only when, when you’re solving a problem, not only, the quick easy solution, but once you make that solution, what are the potential ramifications of that solution down the line.

It’s really thinking multi-dimensionally about the problem. And, also thinking of options. Always thinking of, here’s maybe my preferred option, but if I don’t get my preferred option or my preferred amount of budget these are the things that I could do in order to still get to the same result.

We need to understand how the dynamics of these problems work and the system around them. What stakeholders do we have to invite to work on the solutions and who are the power holders in the systems to really approach them and yeah, get them into the solution finding process.

You need to bring to the table everybody who has an interest in moving whatever it is forward. So I’d say that’s the first thing in doing that, understanding what everybody’s goal is. What do you want to get out of a certain project? And then working together to sort of create, how will we go about meeting our goal is really important.

Most of us just really think about what we’re doing from day to day, but when you’re thinking strategically, you’re thinking about what you can do today that could impact your future. So as a student, I would say if you’re interested in going to college, you wanna think about all of decisions and the choices you make today and how they may impact the choice of where you go to school, what you major in. So thinking strategically is really saying, what choices am I making today? Are they gonna benefit me ten years from now or maybe five years from now? So don’t take the day for granted in your choices that you make. Really think through them and think smart, make smart choices, and that will really help you in your long-term goals.

Discussion Guide

Independent Learning Guide: This all-purpose guide can also be used by educators, parents, and mentors to jumpstart a valuable discussion about the importance of strategic thinking and making smart choices.

Classroom Lesson Plan

Thinking strategically is about more than just focusing on the small choices you make every day. Instead, you have to zoom out and consider how your small choices all add up to larger decisions down the line. The world is complex and the things you do today have an impact on your future. Learn more about how to solve problems strategically, make smart choices, and meet your goals.

Classroom Lesson Plan: This step-by-step lesson plan is available to guide a more in-depth “before, during, and after” learning experience when viewing the video with students. This lesson plan is also suitable for use in after-school programs and other educational settings.

Empowerment Activities

Use Empowerment Activities as a fun way to reinforce the video topic and build community with your students.

Related Empowerment Activities:

Fun Page Activity

Fun Page Activity: Have you ever solved a rebus puzzle? These challenging, visual puzzles are a great way to practice using your problem-solving skills and thinking outside the box.