Defining Strategic Intent And Why It Really Matters

How clear is your strategic intent?

Most organisations are getting better at communicating their vision, mission and values.

They understand that people who feel connected to their organisation, and understand where it  is headed, usually make better employees.

In good organizations most people can describe the values and if they can’t remember the vision word for word, they won’t be too far off.

However, the same can’t be said for the organisational strategic intent.

It might be useful to look first at exactly how strategic intent differs from vision and mission.

The vision of an organization is most simply defined as “what success looks like”. If all our strategies succeed and are optimized this is what we could be.

The mission can be described as “what we do everyday”. It’s serving customers and doing our best, one step at a time.

The values are “how we want to work together to deliver the mission” and set the rules on engagement.

The strategic intent should clearly define “our medium term goals and describe how we are going to get there”. It’s the next step toward the vision.  It should be determined at Board level and represents the marching orders of the CEO.

Strategy initiatives should flow from this statement. To be fulsome, strategic intent should include clearly defined goals, prioritised sources of value and be clear on the competitive advantage that is being built or leveraged to achieve success.

A clearly defined and well understood strategic intent should make it easy for business units or teams to prioritise initiatives, make strategic choices and allocate capital.

Despite the importance of clear strategic intent, you’ll find very few senior staff can easily describe it.  It follows that if it’s not clear or consistent in senior staff then the chances of organizational alignment are slim.

We know that employees are more effective when they are drawn to an organisational vision.

Imagine the benefits when everyone in the business is clear about next step to achieving it  and how they can contribute to that.

As we approach the business planning cycle and decisions are being made on allocation of resources ask yourself “how clear are the Board and senior team on the strategic intent of the organisation and what do we need to do to get more aligned?”

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