Strategic intent

From CEOpedia | Management online

Strategic intent is colloquially, what we would like to achieve in the future. They give, and determine, the sense of existence of each unit, system etc. By referring this definition specifically to enterprises, we can define goals as planned undertakings that are the result of the specific needs of the given organization, as well as its surroundings. The main principle of determining goals is their clear and transparent determination, so that they leave no doubt as to compliance with the mission of the company. In addition, they should be strictly formulated, measurable, ambitious, realistic and timely (SMART principle) [1].

Strategic intent in the hierarchy

Objectives are subject to prioritization and are determined at the following three levels [2]:

  • strategic,
  • tactical,
  • operating.

Setting strategic intent

Strategic intent are defined as already mentioned, mainly considering the vision that the company intends to pursue. This is the most important criterion, however, one should not forget about taking into account other factors, such as analyzing the macro-environment of the organization, its competition, internal situation at the moment of formulating it, or finally the needs of the environment. Importantly, these goals can not be in any way contradictory.

In every major organization, managers are responsible for setting goals, at the appropriate level to make such decisions. It is important to they focus less on formal structural design and more on effective management processes [3].

The role of strategic intent

Well-formulated strategic goals become the basis for the next development of strategic plans. Strategic plans, in turn, have the task of setting priorities for actions and making a series of decisions at various levels, enabling the implementation of previously assumed strategic objectives. These, in turn, will allow later development of tactical goals by top and middle level managers. This goal classification is presented in the form of a goal tree (or a goal classifier). In the light of the aforementioned role of strategic goals, it is worth noting that in the case of incorrect definition, all minor objectives will also be wrong, which may negatively affect all plans of the company [4].

Examples of Strategic intent

  1. Increasing Market Share: Many enterprises set strategic intent to gain more market share. This is done by focusing on product/service quality, investing in research and development, expanding distribution channels, and marketing their products or services more effectively.
  2. Improving Efficiency: Companies can set goals to improve their efficiency by streamlining processes, increasing automation, and reducing costs. This helps them produce more with fewer resources and become more competitive in the marketplace.
  3. Enhancing Customer Experience: Companies can also set goals to improve customer experience. This can include improving customer service, developing better customer relationships, and providing more personalized experiences.
  4. Innovation: Companies can also set goals to stay ahead of the competition by innovating and introducing new products and services. This helps them stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive.
  5. Enhancing Brand Image: Companies can set goals to enhance their brand image by investing in marketing and advertising campaigns, creating a strong online presence, and engaging in corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Advantages of Strategic intent

A strategic intent is a powerful tool for driving an organization forward. It provides clarity and focus on a desired outcome, and it can be used to create a unified vision. Here are some of the benefits of having a strategic intent:

  • It encourages transparency and clarity within an organization. By having a clear mission and vision, everyone in the organization is aware of the ultimate goal and how their individual roles play a part in achieving it.
  • It sets a common language for all stakeholders. Having a unified understanding of the organization’s objectives makes it easier for everyone to communicate and collaborate with one another.
  • It promotes creativity. A strategic intent encourages employees to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to reach the desired outcomes.
  • It provides motivation. A well-defined goal gives employees a purpose and a drive to do their best work.
  • It improves decision-making. Having a clear purpose helps managers make better decisions by focusing on the desired outcomes.

Limitations of Strategic intent

The limitations of strategic intent are numerous, and include:

  • Lack of Clarity: Strategic intent should be specific and well thought-out, but it is often too vague and open-ended, leaving it open to interpretation and leading to a lack of focus or commitment.
  • Lack of Alignment: Strategic intent should be in line with the overall mission and vision of the organization, but often it is not, due to competing interests or a lack of communication.
  • Lack of Resources: Strategic intent often requires resources that are not available or accessible, such as financial support, time, personnel, and technology.
  • Lack of Flexibility: Strategic intent should be able to adapt to changing conditions, but it is often too rigid, limiting the organization’s ability to respond to shifting circumstances.
  • Lack of Commitment: If strategic intent is not well-received or supported by stakeholders, it may be difficult to maintain commitment and motivation.
  • Lack of Accountability: Without clear goals and objectives, it can be difficult to measure success and hold people accountable.

Other approaches related to Strategic intent

  • Goal-Based Strategy: Goal-based strategy is a process of setting long-term goals and then creating strategies to achieve those goals. This method is focused on the overall objectives of the organization and seeks to identify the best way to achieve them.
  • Vision-Based Strategy: Vision-based strategy is a process of creating an image of the future that an organization wants to work towards. It involves identifying what the company’s values are and envisioning how it can best meet the needs of its stakeholders.
  • Value-Based Strategy: Value-based strategy is a process of setting strategies that focus on creating value for the organization’s stakeholders. This involves understanding what the stakeholders value and designing strategies that provide them with the most value.
  • Mission-Based Strategy: Mission-based strategy is a process of setting strategies that are in line with the mission of the organization. This involves identifying the mission of the organization and creating strategies to support it.

Summary: Strategic intent is a process of setting goals and creating strategies to achieve them. It involves different approaches such as goal-based, vision-based, value-based, and mission-based strategies that all focus on creating value for the organization’s stakeholders and aligning the organization’s strategies with its mission.

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  1. Strategic Intent, pages 148-151
  2. Development of Quality-By-Design Analytical Methods, page 801
  3. Changing the Role of Top Management: Beyond Strategy to Purpose, (1994), pages 80-82
  4. Strategizing Throughout the Organization: Managing Role Conflict in Strategic Renewa

Author: Paulina Ściera