A FIRM’S STRATEGIC INTENT SHOULD STAND FOR AN AMBITION THAT TRANSCENDS THE CURRENT RESOURCES AND CAPABILITIES OF THE FIRM.
A strategic intent becomes potent when it offers employees the enticing desirable spectacle of a new destination. Toyota’s venture into the luxury car business stands out in this regard.
A goal that commands the respect and allegiance of every employee qualifies as a strategic intent; the goal must be worthwhile and different from any other one pursued in the past. To be effective, a strategic intent should evoke deep pathos and passion across the rungs of the organisation. The intent of the Apollo space program had a deep emotional appeal as highlighted by John F. Kennedy when he reminded Americans of their destiny to explore new frontiers. Apple’s drive to develop truly user-friendly friendly computers culminating in the development of the Lisa and the Macintosh also falls into this category. To create meaning for employees and to establish direction underlies a strategic intent. Thus, strategic intent seeks to transform employee satisfaction into employee excitement. Senior managers have a duty of imbuing employee work with a purpose higher than a paycheck. An emotionally compelling and broadly shared strategic intent forges an organisation into a cohesive unit where inter-unit competition and other associated ills cannot find space.
To create a new competitive space, to take on the best and win or to deliver totally unexpected benefits to customers could rise as strategic intents capable of delivering an emotional punch. A company creates a deeper appeal in the minds of its employees when it can articulate its destination, what it is growing and becoming.
The pursuit of growth for growth’s sake cannot qualify as a strategic intent since there’s no emphatic direction or focus.
For a strategic intent to become a reality is something that requires every employee to understand how his or her contributions is crucial to the actualization of the strategic intent. For a goal to be emotionally compelling, it must be personalised for every employee. Setting clear challenges that galvanizes everyone’s attention into the next key advantage or capability to be built is a means of doing this. For Komatsu, it happened in this order: improving quality, dramatic cost reductions, international expansion and product line development. Linking employee achievement to the challenge being pursued in a particular time frame and the firm’s overall strategic intent are vital for creating emotional alignment with the firm’s goals in the minds of employees.
Without clearly specified challenges and external benchmarks, employees will not be motivated to contribute to the firm’s competitiveness. The motivation to rise to particular challenges often comes when employees believe that they will benefit proportionately from the firm’s success. To contribute effectively to advantage building efforts, employees must be equipped with the necessary tools like statistical analysis, general problem-solving techniques, benchmarking methods, systems modelling and teamwork disciplines.
To set a challenge in the context of the strategic intent, to apply honesty and humility in describing the nature and magnitude of the challenge, to precisely specify the improvements tenable in a particular time frame, to establish time frames linking every employee’s contribution to the overall challenge and to liberalise employee contribution to work are all crucial elements in the process of managing corporate challenges.
To have a strategic intent and to build new capabilities faster than rivals are the avenues a company uses to get to the future first. A firm’s strategic intent should stand for an ambition that transcends the current resources and capabilities of the firm. It must also get it forward into a deep understanding of potential discontinuities, competitor interventions and evolving customer needs.
The strategic intent, a tangible goal, a destination that can be described, forces a company to contemplate how it must do things differently today in order to create a particular future.
A loose fit between short-term objectives and near-at-hand resources is ideal. Medium-term challenges should push a company to transcend its realm of accepted possibilities. Atrophy and stagnation results in the wake of a perfect fit.