Why do so many organizations fail to deliver on the opportunities that have been thoughtfully identified in their strategic plans? Most often it is a failure of taking action in a focused and intentional way. Likely you have heard many adages about the futility of intentions alone. I would agree; intention without action will not deliver the desired outcomes. Acting in a business-as-usual fashion will not achieve those transformational results that are characteristic of strategic plans.
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker
“Our intention creates our reality.” – Wayne Dyer
Webster defines intentionality as the act of being done with purpose. Often what is needed to capture strategic opportunities conflicts with the current ways of operating, sources of revenue, customers or sources of stability for an organization. That can be threatening. Taking intentional action requires that the reference point is the future instead of the past. It is useful to ask: what is the aspirational future that we are out to create; and what action, if taken now, would move us closer to that future?
Create Context for Action
When employees can see how an action or project or initiative fits into the future they are out to create, they are more likely to take it on with a sense of ownership. That means that a condition for action is that the vision has been syndicated. It has been discussed. People have had an opportunity to contribute. Their concerns and commitments are honored, or minimally have been addressed, such that they are on-board. They might not be able to see how to get there, but employees are aligned with the final destination. Once this context has been created, then there is room for intentional action to pave the way to the future.