Thinking and acting strategically involves being able to plot a course of action that leads to results, in light of opportunities, obstacles and change, and ensuring actions are implemented in the right way and at the right time to achieve the desired outcome.

This development area focuses on the underpinning knowledge, skills and behaviours that allow managers to think and act strategically in any number of typical management situations, including ‘big picture’ project planning and everyday problem solving.

This development area has four core foci: different ways of thinking, reading a situation, forming and implementing a specific course of action, and communicating strategy.

The Victorian public sector does not have one standard approach for thinking or acting strategically. However, common practices and processes – for example, those relating to creating a business case, developing public policy and managing risk – promote particular ways and patterns of thinking which, over time, exert a strong influence on public sector culture.

What should a development activity cover?

The checklist that follows outlines the core content that development activities focusing on this subject area ought to cover in order to build the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for success in any Victorian public sector management role.

Accompanying the checklist is a list of resources. Use of these resources in the design and delivery of a development activity will help build knowledge, skills and behaviours that are of immediate and clear value in any management role in the Victorian public sector.

Some of these resources describe specific knowledge, skills or behaviours, while others provide information about the context in which Victorian public sector managers operate. In most cases, the resources do not address the topic in full. Additional material will still be required to provide comprehensive development in the relevant content area.

Most resources listed are freely available as downloads from the websites indicated.

Core Content / Resources

Establishing the Contrast

Understanding the importance of thinking and acting strategically to achieve outcomes in light of obstacles within the changing and complex environment in which the Victorian public sector operates.


Victorian Public Sector Commission, Welcome to Management

Applying Creative, Innovative and Adaptive Thinking


  • Common approaches for creative, innovative and adaptive thinking
  • Common cognitive biases and techniques to address them.

Identifying goals, context, barriers and enablers

Techniques for:

  • Filtering information and establishing clarity about big picture goals through, Victorian Public Sector Commission, for example, consultations
  • Identifying and analysing barriers, enablers and opportunities.


Forming, Implementing and Adapting Strategy

Techniques for:

  • Identifying, selecting and sequencing specific actions to achieve outcomes in light of particular circumstances and organisational goals
  • Reviewing and revising strategic action in real time.

Communicating Strategy

Communicating strategy to others, especially for people who do not think strategically or who have not been involved in the thought process that has produced the strategy.

Seeking Assistance

Understanding when and how to seek support to assist with development and application of effective interpersonal skills.