Clarity allows things to be done
twice as fast at half the cost.

Commander's Intent

Chip and Dan Heath wrote a really cool book, "Made to Stick" about what makes some stories and marketing messages "stick" while others, even if part of massive advertising campaign, fail to resonate with their target audiences. In this book, they describe six key principles for how to communicate your message so that it sticks. One of these is the simplicity principle.

They illustrate the simplicity principle with the Army doctrine of Commander's Intent. The Commander's Intent is a crisp, plain talk instruction used for military instruction. It has a connection to a business's need for identifying the "single most important thing" core idea.

Churchill and Eisenhower were both credited with saying "Plans are worthless, planning is invaluable", acknowledging that once battle begins, plans are immediately in need of revision.

The point of Commanders Intent is that it gives people a clear sense of the objective being sought so that they can make their own plans or adaptations in support of the "big idea"

When giving instruction, provide this kind of insight to your team, and they will have to come back to you less for guidance and input. And, when instructions are being given to you, feel free to ask what the ultimate objective is. This will keep you from making bad assumptions and mistakes.

One Minute Goal Setting from the "One Minute Manager" is very much the same:

  1. Agree on your goals.
  2. See what good behavior looks like.
  3. Write out each of your goals on a single sheet of paper using less than 250 words.
  4. Read and re-read each goal, which requires only a minute or so each time you do it.
  5. Take a minute every once in a while out of your day to look at your performance, and see whether or not your behavior matches your goal.

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