Strategic Thinking Skills
Dr. Stanley K. Ridgley is Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at Drexel University's LeBow College of Business. He holds an M.A. in Political Science from Duke University, an M.B.A. in International Business from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in International Relations from Duke. Professor Ridgley teaches courses on global business policies, international business fundamentals, competitive intelligence, strategic management and entrepreneurship, and advanced strategic business presentations. While teaching at Temple University, he received the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership. Professor Ridgley has lectured and presented widely in the United States, Russia, India, France, Colombia, and Singapore. A presentation coach for teams of business students, he coached the winning team for Target Corporation's annual Business Case Competition at Temple University in 2009 and 2010 and coached an Indian M.B.A. team's winning presentation in the All India Management Association's 2009 National Competition for Young Managers. His book, The Complete Guide to Business School Presentations: What your professors don't tell you...what you absolutely must know will be published in 2012 by Anthem Press. Professor Ridgley is a former military intelligence officer for the U.S. Army and served five years in West Berlin and near the Czech-German border, where he received the George S. Patton Award for Leadership from the 7th Army NCO Academy.
01: The World of Strategic Thinking
Enter the fascinating world of strategic thinking. Start by learning some of the key terms and concepts you'll encounter, with a focus on the differences between "strategy" and "tactics." You're also introduced to how strategic thinking works in business, politics, military combat, sports, and much more.
02: The Origins and Relevance of Ancient Strategy
To truly grasp strategic thinking, you must understand its origins and traditions. See how the writings and ideas of early strategists, including Thucydides, Sun Tzu, Hannibal, and Machiavelli, can provide you with modes of thinking and practical guidance you can use even today.
03: The Dawn of Modern Strategic Thinking
Follow along as strategic thinking develops in military engagements from the French Revolution to the close of World War I. You'll examine the contributions of Napoleon Bonaparte (whose strategies of indirect approach and central positioning demonstrate the power of ideas over material resources), influential military theorists, and famous geopolitical thinkers.
04: Modern Principles of Strategic Conflict
Objective. Offensive. Maneuver. Unity of Command. Security. Professor Ridgley demystifies these and other principles of war in use by the U.S. military since the 1920s. Each of these principles goes beyond military action and can offer you vital guidelines for executing your professional and personal strategies against a sometimes hostile world.
05: Geography - Know Your Terrain
Delve into the influence of microgeography on your own decision making and discover how interacting with your physical space in situations of conflict and competition can make or break your chances of success. Case studies and examples in this lecture range from Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo to a simple chess match.
06: Grand Strategists and Strategic Intent
At the center of every great strategy is a vision - a strategic intent. Learn the importance of powerful strategic intents by studying what constitutes an effective vision, how figures such as John F. Kennedy have articulated them, and what happens when you fail to have a solid strategic intent.
07: The Core and the Rise of Strategic Planning
How do you actually plan an effective strategy? First, follow the development of formal strategic planning in the business realm after World War I. Then, Professor Ridgley walks you through his six-step strategic planning process that can better help you craft a successful strategy.
08: Which Business Strategy? Fundamental Choices
Learn the major ways that firms and people compete economically - and how these strategies can apply even to nonbusiness activities. You'll contrast cost leadership (selling products at the lowest possible price and making profit on volume) with differentiation (providing something unique beyond low prices), and also consider a special form of hyperdifferentiation known as "focus."
09: Your Competitive Advantage - Find the Blue Ocean
What is your unique selling proposition, and how do you develop it? How do you find your "blue ocean" and differentiate yourself in some meaningful way? Most important: How can thinking differently and taking risks actually help you stand apart from the pack in positive ways? Find the answers right here.
10: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Examine some of the powerful analytical tools that strategic thinkers use to make calculated and honest assessments of the world around them - and better understand their own capabilities. The four invaluable tools you'll learn about in this lecture are PEST analysis, five forces analysis, value chain analysis, and the technique known as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT).
11: Avoid the Pathologies of Execution
Even with a superb strategy, the best-laid plans can go awry for many reasons. Here, Dr. Ridgley uses examples from military combat to illustrate some of the common causes of strategic failure. These include poor intelligence, overreach, and communication breakdown.
12: Tactics of Combat as Problem-Solving Tools
There is much to be learned from studying the major tactics of war - the frontal assault, the indirect approach, turning the flank, and rear area battle - beyond just winning battles. In each instance, you'll start by exploring the technique's military roots and then turn to its fascinating applications in the business world.
13: Shock of the New - Inflection Points
How do you navigate game-changing events and developments (strategic inflection points) that force you to radically readjust your strategy? Examine a range of case studies in business (such as the 1978 deregulation of the airline industry), politics (limiting a U.S. president's term in office), military conflict (new weaponry introduced during the Crusades), and other areas.
14: Surprise! Perils and Power of Strategic Deception
Surprise is a valuable tool in strategic thinking. In this insightful lecture, discover the inner workings of powerful surprise tactics such as unexpected timing and creation of false expectations in opponents - and how these tactics have been used throughout history. Also, find out how you can apply them to conflict situations you may face.
15: The Sources and Uses of Reliable Intelligence
Investigate the role of intelligence collection in crafting a good strategy. First, consider what is (and isn't) intelligence. Then, examine the intelligence cycle to learn how intelligence is produced and used. Finally, confront some major obstacles that thwart the use of intelligence.
16: Move and Countermove - The Theory of Games
Tap into the secrets of game theory. You'll uncover how this recent field - and its classic games, including the Prisoner's Dilemma and the Tragedy of the Commons - contribute to our understanding of how people reason and how to use this knowledge to best pursue strategy in your own games.
17: The Evolution of Cooperation
Does cooperation make sense, even under conditions of potential conflict when you're trying to get ahead? How can it be used in strategies that maximize everyone's welfare? Explore powerful military and business situations involving cooperation, from the Christmas truce in World War I to the alliance between AT&T and T-Mobile in 2011.
18: When Strategy Breaks Down
It's important for any strategic thinker and planner to understand obstacles to strategy. Learn to cultivate a healthy skepticism by studying a phenomenon Dr. Ridgley calls "strategic masquerade"; looking at types of misalignments that can derail your strategies (such as groupthink); and increasing your awareness of the dangers of "strategic erosion."
19: Leverage Cognitive Psychology for Better Strategy
Explore some ideas and theories of cognitive psychology that can help improve your decision making and avoid irrational thinking in strategic situations. You'll learn how to dodge thinking traps by employing such techniques as historical comparisons and situational logic.
20: Strategic Intuition and Creative Insight
Research suggests that, under certain conditions, intuition and instinct (also known as coup d'oeil) can be effective in making decisions. Take a closer look at several examples of strategic intuition in action (including a critical Civil War battle) and learn seven easy steps for helping you use intuitive insights to tackle problems.
21: From Systemic Problems to Systemic Solutions
Systemic problems, which arise repeatedly because of processes already in place, are a hurdle to more effective strategic thinking and planning. Here, analyze the nature and structure of systemic problems from the vantage point of a strategic thinker - and learn some definitive ways to fix them.
22: Seize the Future with Scenario Analysis
Perfect information that allows us to strategically plan around the uncertainties of the future is impossible - but there are tools that can help you better grapple with and manage the future. Professor Ridgley guides you through the steps of scenario planning and shows you ways to no longer fear the unexpected.
23: The Correlation of Forces, Luck, and Culture
The correlation of forces; luck; the four dimensions of culture - three powerful concepts you can harness to your strategic thinking needs, endow yourself with potent analytical power, and dramatically increase your chances of achieving strategic success. Learn all about them here.
24: Strategic Thinking as a Way of Life
Revisit the importance of strategic thinking at work and at home. Why should you think strategically? How can you teach yourself to see larger patterns in the world around you? What will the future of strategic thinking look like?