Article published in Financial Express dated 20/11/2017, Pg. No. 7

From strategy to success

Strategic intent is a peep into a firm’s future

Why do we purchase some brands over and over again, even when there are cheaper options out there in the market? We prefer to fly on a particular air-line; we buy a particular brand of tea from the same shop; we recommend a specific restaurant whenever our friends and out-of-towners ask for suggestions; we buy specific cosmetic brands; particular brands of grocery. In short, we stay loyal to brands for their value. The best brands strive to combine physical, emotional and logical elements into a customer. Good brands constantly stay connected with their strategic intents.

Strategic intent is a statement of the course that the management of an organisation plans to take the enterprise in the future. Intent means intention, aim, purpose, objective, target, goal, etc. Strategic intent must be clear and crisp, which can be grasped by everybody in the organisation and by all its stakeholders. When maximum people understand the intention, all of them can work consistently to achieve the corporate purpose. A vision statement, mission statement, goals, objectives, philosophy all comprise strategic intent.

It is not easy for organisations to connect easily with their employees and customers; the companies that succeed are the ones that stay true to their core values, mission and vision statements. Such companies have strong strategic intents. The strategic management process begins with a clear and purposeful vision that stretches the organisation further. Creating and implementing the strategic intent sequence is: defining a pragmatic vision, interpreting it into a meaningful mission, and specifying goals and objectives in achieving it.The next step is to create and communicate the intent at all levels of the organisation, making strategic plans and actions for achieving the intent.

The success stories of companies such as Toyota, Canon, Apple, GE, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, ITC and Komatsu share an underlying theme—all have embraced bold ambitions beyond the limits of existing capabilities and resources. They have aimed for global leadership and created systems, processes and values for their products. Komatsu wanted to outperform Caterpillar; Canon sought to beat Xerox; and Honda wanted to become an automotive pioneer like Ford. The concept of strategic intent holds important lessons for small businesses aiming to grow and succeed. An organisation’s vision and mission statements need to be explicit than the usual directional statements. Most mission and vision statements point the way forward only in general terms. Sharp statements of intent can provide more clarity about what to do in the near future to achieve the vision and mission. These statements convey the flavour of planning process and strategic strength of an organisation.

The vision statement of Facebook is: To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Facebook does this truly. Their vision is so apt. Facebook has given people a voice to share what matters to them; people share their views, their ideas, their personal life stories, photos, opinions on various topics. Because of Facebook, people can share and connect; it has connected the world closely. People have been able to connect with their childhood friends, school friends, because of which relationships grow stronger, more jobs and businesses are created, and governments can reflect on people’s problems and people’s values. When we have better tools for sharing, we have more voice. There is strength in unity, and that’s what Facebook has done. It lives its strategic intent aptly.

Strategic intent needs to be constant in terms of time: Battles between organisations for global leadership, price wars and market shares are among the most critical tasks. A steady vision and mission statement helps to lengthen and extend the organisation’s attention span. It provides consistency to short-term action, while leaving room for reinterpretation as new opportunities emerge. Strategic intent sets a target that deserves personal effort and commitment.

Pfizer’s vision statement is: “To become the world’s most valued company to patients, customers, colleagues, investors, business partners and the communities where we work and live.”The company believes that every patient has a story and they should work hard to change each story on a positive note—this philosophy is at the core of the company and each employee works hard to try and change the ending, they put the philosophy at the heart of everything they do. The company believes that patients deserve the best medicines and should have the right to choose how they are treated, in partnership with their doctor or healthcare specialist. That is why Pfizer invests a lot of time in talking with patient groups, governments and healthcare providers to ensure patients have access to the medicines that they need the most. Pfizer invests its big bounty in R&D, because they have revolutionised the way diseases are managed, saving money and improving quality of life.

Companies that have climbed in global competition, and are counted among the global leadership over the past 20 years, habitually began with ambitions that were out of all proportion to their resources and capabilities. But they created an obsession with winning at all levels of the organisation and then sustained that obsession over the 10- to 20- year quest for global leadership. Their strategic intent encompasses an active management process that includes focusing the organisation’s attention on the essence of winning.

Friends, this is how strategic intent provides a bird’s eye view of the future of an organisation.


Director and professor of strategic management,

Maratha Mandir’s Babasaheb Gawde Institute of Management Studies,


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