Without a set understanding of what strategic thinking is it is, of course, impossible to asses the ability to thinking strategically. One approach could be to follow the lead of Elliot Jacques. In his Stratified Systems Thinking he suggested a continuum from Operational to Strategic – hence defining strat gif thinking as the opposite of operational. Operational – in this context – is defined as thinking in a spectrum of certainty, unambiguity, immediate and clear feedback, and low complexity. It is the one end of a continuum of familiarity. Strategic than consequently is thinking in the spectrum of uncertainty, ambiguity, delayed and unclear feedback, and high complexity. It is the other end of the continuum – unfamiliar.
This design helps us to come up with one way of understanding the concept of strategic thinking. It indicates one way of defining the cognitive requirements of strategic think8ng and also, as it happens, a possible way of assessing cognitive ability.
The South African psychologist Maretha Prinsloo developed a way to measure people’s cognitive preferences when solving problems. The test, called Cognitive Process Preference, is a computerized problem-solving test based on her model of cognition. In the test, the test person is asked to solve a number of tests simulating increasingly more and more complex, ambiguous and uncertain. In other words more and more unfamiliar. The test defines five cognitive domains ranging from Pure Operational to Pure Strategic.
We are currently investigating if CPP can be used to asses people’s strategic thinking ability. In a lecture given as a part of the 350 years anniversary of Lund University, I gave a short introduction to the model and the test.