If your role in your company involves managing other people, you can ask for work to be done by providing precise instructions or providing the intent behind them. Assuming you trust people to do the job, proper intent will save you both a lot of time.
In “The Personal MBA“, author Josh Kaufman shares the idea of “The Commander’s Intent”:
Commander’s Intent originated on the battlefield. If a general tells a field commander precisely how to capture a hill and the situation changes, the field commander is forced to return to the general for new orders, which is slow and inefficient. If the general explains the strategy to the field commander and explains why that particular hill is important and how it will support the overall strategy, the field commander is free to use his knowledge of the Goal and fresh intelligence to act in a new way that supports the original intent.
This not only happens with staff, but I see it happen with clients quite a bit. They’ll say they want us to do something specific, hoping for a particular outcome, whereas sharing the “why” behind that intent might lead to an easier or less expensive way to reach the same goal.
For example, a client might say “we need to set up website hosting for this new domain name that we bought“. If we simply say “yes” and go do it, that will create some headaches for both of us if all they wanted to do with the new domain name was point it to their existing site (where no new hosting is needed for that).
We try to always provide the “why” to our team rather than specific directions. Certainly there are steps and processes needed to accomplish certain tasks, but if the team knows why we’re doing something, they become empowered to change directions if needed to reach the goal, saving us both some time and effort.
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