Strategy: What is your strategic intent and are you enabling it?


D ifferent stategic intent shape – or, are shaped by – a company’s vision, objectives, perspective, activities, culture, structure and more. The question is – are you clear on what your business’s strategic intent is and how you best enable it to achieve change, execution and results?



Through my research I have found that explicating the inherent characteristics of different strategic intents helps create awareness, and identify solutions, in situations when strategy execution and implementation is challenged by dual forces.

Taking the outset in strategy authority Porter’s somewhat rigid, yet straightforward framework, a company can choose to compete based on a cost or differentiation strategy (there are others but for simplicity we stick to these two). If we then lean on other schools of thought, complementing the picture from the perspective of organizational and innovation research and experience – different landscapes appear.

Many established and large companies are often found in the upper left triangle: where volume, economies of scale and profitability are important benchmarks. With a similar strategic intent follows a predominant external focus; critical tasks; organizational structure; measurements and values ​​(culture). The lower triangle represents the opposite: another strategic intent that comes with other trademarks.

THE CHALLENGE appears when you implicitly or explicitly combine both: when a company whose strategic intent is Cost wants to become more “customer-oriented and (radically) innovative”, or, when I highly Differentiated company attempts economies of scale. From a strategy and innovation perspective, this is often referred to as a Blue Ocean Strategy (simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost) or an Ambidextrous Organization (both right and left handed, or both cost-effective and innovative).

THE SOLUTION should first of all be crafted in the particular company at stake. However, the first step is to create awareness on the differences in core activities and abilities linked to different strategic intents- then find the bridges between. In today’s business landscape – most companies drive some kind of dual approach within a particular and predominate strategic intent. The solutions range from new, modular product and service offerings to dual structures within the one organization. As a first step however, truly explicating the consequences of a current and desired strategic intent and its inherent core activities and capabilities is key.

December 2018