Strategic thinking is not common sense

I have been wondering how to learn and how to teach strategic thinking. It has been said to me that this is not a skill set that is teachable it is a gift that one has or does not have. I tend to hold out that this is a sill set that can be learned and taught.  

There is a difference however, in strategic thinking and common sense. 


This may go without saying, but it was recently shared with me that many view strategic thinking as glorified common sense. The difference seems to me, that strategic thinking and common sense have different goals and if we examine our goals then we know if we are thinking strategically or just using common sense. 

A lot of common sense seems rooted in the goal of survival. Whereas strategic thinking's goal is determined by the thinker.  

Lets take a meeting for example. If we were using common sense to run the meeting, then we would do things that would not anger people or make us look good because, well that is just common sense. Why would you want to create an environment that has tension in it? Why would you want people to dislike you? Why would you want to make a tough decision when you could just kick it down the road and hope the problem cures itself. Why would you want to change the status quo when to change it would require a lot of uncertainty? When using common sense it is clear what the choice is, live to survive another day. 

However, if in a meeting and we were thinking strategically, then the goal is different. Survival is not the main goal. You will have to say things that upset some people and you may have to eat your own words. You might have to introduce more tension into the situation in order to exacerbate the problem for people to see the problem. Some people may not like you. You may have to make a tough decision now ad refuse to table the decision. The status quo might have to change in order to reach the goal you have in mind because the goal, in thinking strategically is not survival.

The goal is to thrive. And, many times common sense might help you live but it rarely ensure that you will thrive.  

It would have been common sense for Jesus to just shut his mouth and stay low for a while. But Jesus was not driven by common sense. It is common sense to avoid the lepers in the event you may get the sickness, Jesus sought out the leper. It is common sense to just answer the questions Pilate has for you and then you would have gotten off and lived, Jesus refused to answer the questions.  

What Jesus teaches me is that common sense does not change the world. It is too, well, common.

Followers of Jesus are called to avoid the trappings and false sense of security that comes with common sense and rather think strategically about the world. As a reminder, we are to die to self (not common sense), bind ourselves to the call of Christ (not common sense), practice forgiveness in the face of hate (not common sense) and proclaim resurrection in the face of death (not common sense).