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Using Strategic Intent to Guide Decision Making

By Anthony Taylor - January 12, 2015

SME Strategy is a strategy consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations align their teams and operations around a shared vision, mission, values, goals, and action plans. Our strategic planning services offer guidance on how a strategic planning facilitator can provide support in constructing an effective strategic plan that ensures your strategy is communicated and implemented across your entire organization.


Happy 2015 everyone. I hope you had excellent holiday time with your loved ones, and got some time to decompress and relax.

I find at the end of every year, it's easy to look forward into what's next in your life or in your business, but I believe it's equally important to take time to look back and reflect on the successes and the failures of the year (or quarter) to appreciate them and to learn from them.

That said, let's look forward into the year as we build out our strategic plan.

I find there's a similarity between strategic planning and new years resolutions.  At the end of every year, people come up with statements of things that they will do more or less of in the next year, for example:

  • More exercise
  • No smoking
  • More time with family
  • No drinking
  • More Saving
  • etc

This type of statement can help guide people towards their ideal state, towards greater happiness and life success, but they need to stay focused and motivated to stay on track. 

Now take a look at your organization and its strategic plan: Does it have these types of statements that summarize and dictate its organizational strategy? Are they attainable, and can you stick to them?

Guiding principles can help communicate to your entire organization what you're trying to achieve and where it's going.

These statements should encapsulate the critical success factors for your organization, and should be the foundation for all strategic decision making.

One HBR writer suggests to create your strategic intent in 15 words encompassing:

  • Focus: What you want to offer to the target customer and what you don’t;

  • Difference: Why your value proposition is divergent from competitive alternatives.

See the Full article here: The Art of Crafting a 15-Word Strategy Statement

Another approach is to create strategic intents that encompasses what to do and what not to to.

The latter provides boundaries for acceptable actions and behaviour that allow for creativity to fulfil the mission; where as the former provides guidance towards specific targets and initiatives.

In: "Mastering the Rockerfeller Habits" Verne Hamish utilizes a one page strategic plan and advocates the use of a "top 5 of 5" and a "top 1 of 5" for strategic priorities.

This list of top 5 priorities helps focus energy towards the most important areas of the organization (at that point in time); he also encourages having a top priority from that list, to further increase execution of the strategy.

Whether you use: strategic headlines, resolutions, top 5 lists, value statements, do or do not list, or strategic intent to communicate your strategic plan for your company, the key is to keep it simple and consistent so that your organization knows where you are headed for the future and what they need to be doing to create success.

 Working on your organization's strategic plan? 
Our free strategic planning template will help you start the process: 

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