The Best Strategic Thinking Models for Introverts

In today’s business climate, introverts who attempt to make the most of their resources need to choose a strategic thinking model that yields the best results.

The American Academy of Advanced Thinking defines Strategic Thinking as “The mental process of positioning oneself to achieve an objective.”

The SWOT analysis and the IBAR Critical Thinking Method garner good results for short and long-term planning, critical analysis, and problem-solving.

Albert S. Humphrey is credited with developing the SWOT analysis in the 1960s. Essentially, the acronym SWOT refers to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. When a practitioner looks inside an organization, strengths and weaknesses are considered to determine what it does best and least effectively.

Opportunities and threats are outside forces that could prove helpful or harmful to organizational development. In a practical sense, SWOT analysis seeks to find the benefits and liabilities within and outside an organization.

For example, a small business may be able to change directions rapidly (Strength), but this may prove harmful if the business is undercapitalized as it attempts to create new products (Weakness). Being a small company allows it to specialize in a niche (Opportunity). Still, it may prove harmful if the niche is a commodity that can be dominated by a larger competitor (Threat).

Typically, SWOT analysis allows practitioners to examine all aspects of a company to establish a viable marketing and business development strategy.

Edward S. Brown III developed the IBAR Critical Thinking Method (IBAR) in 2012. IBAR’s acronym stands for Issues, Benchmarks, Analysis/Application, and Recommendations.

In strategic analysis, Issues, Applications, and Recommendations review the company’s internal structure, while Benchmarks and Analysis look at outside prospects. In a practical sense, a practitioner would ask what, when, why, where, and how a problem was derived (Issue).

Once the issue has been diagnosed, a practitioner would look for industry standards, best practices, and leaders who have dealt with a similar problem (Benchmarks). From these benchmarks, a practitioner can determine why and how they have worked successfully in the past (Analysis).

It would be similar to precedents established in law. If judges have settled cases that serve as guidelines, the only determination is how this precedent (Benchmark) can be used successfully in this particular instance (Application).

If several benchmarks are to be considered, they must be triaged or prioritized based on their merit to provide the best chance for successful implementation. Resolving the order of priority is a part of the recommendation process, reflecting the most attractive solution available among the options.

Dear Strategic Introvert

SWOT analysis is a comprehensive means of looking at an organization with a 360-degree lens. Harbour (n.d.) outlined the benefits and liabilities of SWOT Analysis. Harbour said the advantages are:

  • SWOT helps decision-makers decide on a course of action using a simple matrix.
  • SWOT is an excellent tool for marketing campaigns.
  • SWOT requires no special training for implementation.

Harbour says the liabilities include:

  • SWOT identifies issues without providing solutions.
  • SWOT may not reflect the reality of the business.
  • SWOT does not prioritize the problem within its four quadrants.

Although very little has been written on the IBAR Critical Thinking Method, the anecdotal analysis generated from its influence from the IRAC Method prompts some benefits and liabilities.

Some general benefits are:

  • IBAR creates a solution to the issue.
  • Benchmarks are anchored to the past success of diverse companies.
  • No special training is necessary after the initial introduction.

Some liabilities include:

  • Its critical thinking premise is relegated to a simple formula.
  • It provides a recommendation for problem resolution but still requires experimentation.
  • It does not have a long history.

Which strategic thinking model is the best?

Based on the findings, SWOT analysis is effective for self-reflection and marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, IBAR is effective at resolving issues, planning, and decision-making.

In this vein, IBAR is a better choice for comprehensive decision-making for organizational development. On the other hand, SWOT is a better choice for getting a snapshot of the current state of organizational operations.

The best choice between the two rests on the specific results a practitioner attempts to achieve–long-term planning or a snapshot of current conditions.

—Helen R. Metcalf

RELATED: The Introvert’s Edge to Strategic Thinking & Planning


Harbour, S. (N.D.). What are the benefits and detriments of SWOT analysis? CHRON (Houston Chronicle). Retrieved from:

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