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Strategic Intent May 29, 2006

Posted by humairah in Definitions & References, Management, You.

Gary Hamel and C K Prahalad have written a book, Competing for the future, where they define, 'Strategic Intent'. This was first introduced in 1989, in the Harvard Business Review.

It's an interesting concept in management, and I think it's important because of the importance of having the right intentions in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, 'Innamal 'amaalu bin niyyaat'- Actions are indeed by intentions.

So, extending this concept (and it's a huge extension!) to the company level,  strategic intent is:

"an ambitious and compelling … dream that energizes … that provides the emotional and intellectual energy for the journey … to the future."

If strategic architecture (a high-level blueprint for the deployment of new functionalities, the acquisition of new competencies or the migration of existing competencies, and the reconfiguring of the interface with customers) is the brain, strategic intent is the heart.

What a company has currently- resources, labour, capability, are not enough. Strategic intent should give a sense of stretch, and this sense of stretch has 3 attributes:

  1. Direction: You have a particular point of view about the competitiveness of your firm. This foresightedness should convey a clear direction in the future.
  2. Discovery: Encourage employees to open up new venues, exploration, ideas, creativity, new territories that are unique.
  3. Destiny: Beginning with the end in mind. Where are you going? What's in your hands? What can you change? What are your takes? How do you feel?

I believe this high-level concept can be applied to your personal lives as well. What's your strategic intent towards a goal? What direction will you take to achieve it? What will you discover along the way? Who is destined to be with you? Who is not? What's going to happen? What's in your hands? What do you want to change?

If you answer these questions for each goal, then you have a clearer vision of where you want to go, which is very important- Otherwise, you're just shooting arrows in the dark- dreaming big, and only dreaming on.

 And these questions can be answered by following a process, with three important steps:

  1. Set your strategic intent- With the three Ds
  2. Define your challenges- What is it going to take to get to where you want? How will you face the competition?
  3. Empowerment of the strategic intent: Get new ideas flowing. Everyone has something to contribute. A bottom-up approach that involves everybody will bring great results. Every voice counts.

 The groundwork for global leadership requires setting your corporate plan for 10-20 years. By creating a sustained obsession to win amongst your employees, you're encouraging them to work beyond their resources to achieve success, because we all can do more than what we think.



1. Philip - September 2, 2007

This is a very powerful work that needs more than just commendation. I think it has given me a clear idea and meaning of what strategic intent meant and should be in a modern world. Great many thanks and hope these pieces of ideas would form valuable parts of my MBA research proofs.

Distinguished regards.

2. Humairah - September 2, 2007

Thank you Philip for your kind words. And good luck on your MBA research.
I’d love to read it when you’re done, if you’d like to share.

3. marhaba nabi - January 28, 2009

thank you philip for this information. all the best for ur MBA research.
language is very easy and easily understand wd u like share me ur ideas.

4. Annajulia Hungwe - February 14, 2010


Thank you for the most straight foward, easy to grasp information.

Good luck with your MBA Research.

I would love to read it once done – sounds exciting.

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