The principle of “leader’s intent” is combined with “The Big 3” of objectives, organization and resources I learned from an IMT mentor in 2013-2014. Years later I added communication as a key planning element. Not long after that, the focus of this post and podcast episode, leader’s intent made the list.
U.S. Military Commander’s Intent:
Commander’s intent is the predecessor of Leader’s intent. To quote Maj. Richard Dempsey, U.S. Army, and Maj. Jonathan M. Chavous, U.S. Army who I use as one of my references in this episode, “Commander’s intent, when used properly, should bridge the gap between the mission and the concept of operations.” I think this is a great summary of what Commander’s intent is and what is should provide.
– Reference at https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Portals/7/military-review/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20131231_art011.pdf
NWCG Leader’s Intent:
Many of the leadership and organizational practices from the U.S. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) adopted many leadership principles from the U.S. Military. Among these include Leader’s intent. The NWCG also summarizes elements of Leader’s intent. NWCG prompts leaders to let their teams know their intent through the three key elements of Task, Purpose and End state. Not far from their military brethren right? With the NWCG, Task is outline as, “the objective or goal of the assignment“. Next, purpose focuses on “why the assignment needs to be done“. Finally, end state is defined as “how the situation should look when the assignment is successfully completed“.
– Reference at https://www.nwcg.gov/committee/6mfs/leaders-intent
Intent in Agile Project Management:
As we read these articles or listen to this episode, we begin to see some common themes. Helping our teams know the “Why” and the “End State” are critical components. In addition, this is true in the Lean process process improvement space. As part of this episode’s research I reference a great Lean terminology directory from Velaction, a continuous improvement company. Velaction references “Commander’s Intent” and provides guidance on the pitfall of setting unrealistic Intent, e.g. demanding high quality but expecting the same high output. One may negatively impact the other and the leader’s message may be confusing.
– Reference at https://www.velaction.com/leaders-intent/
A reminder of the ‘Foundational Five’:
- Establish or receive leader’s intent
- Create S.M.A.R.T. Objectives
- Craft a functional organizational structure
- Request and coordinate resources
- Communicate effectively up and down the chain of command.
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