Types of Intention Plans

In an episode of Little House on the Prairie there was a particularly cold winter. The snow piled so high and visibility was so poor that Pa had to tether a rope between the house and the barn to make sure he didn’t get lost. This is what is it like managing a small business. When you are in the middle of the snowstorms of daily management, you need tools to make sure you aren’t going off track. Tools like this help make sure you know your current location and help you orient your direction so that you continue on towards your long-term goals.

Fighting Chaos

Most of us don’t wake up each day with the goal of getting lost in a snowstorm.  We want to know our work is moving us closer to our goals. We want to have an impact and do our best.   We want to know our work matters. The problem is that we get into our day and before we know it our day is almost over and we have to think for a moment about what we even accomplished. Without realizing it, we have gotten pulled off course by the chaos of the snowstorm. We have no time to plan and we have lost the big picture of where we want to be in the next year. If we lose the big picture, we are at the mercy of the storm. 

While we have lots of problems in our business we only have a few meta problems. These are the problems that we must solve before others. Making sure we stay on track during the storms we encounter is one of these problems we must solve first. We can complain about the bad weather and horrible circumstances or we can be like Pa and tie a rope from the house to the barn.

Intention Planning

The rope we use to stay on track is intention planning.

Research shows that intention plans can double the likelihood of reaching goals. Intention plans move us from vague intent to strategic objectives with plans to achieve them. They move our teams from being pulled in every direction to purposeful activity. Intention plans continue to keep our focus on the most important activities. This doesn’t happen naturally and it surely doesn’t happen by accident. As leaders, we must help our teams focus on what is most important each day.

It takes intentional planning to connect our work to the overall plan to fight chaos. Intention planning connects weekly tasks to key results to strategic objectives to your overall mission.

Creating organizational intent like this helps maintain a connection to your overall direction.

As employees move beyond the basics of employee engagement and view their contribution to the organization more broadly, they are more likely to stay, take proactive steps to create a safe environment, have higher productivity, and connect with customers to the benefit of the organization.


There are three types of intention plans that help create this alignment and keep your team engaged.

  1. Missional Intent. Your team can answer the question, “I know why we do what we do and my work has meaning.”
  2. Strategic Intent. Your team can answer the question, “I┬áhave clarity on what objectives we are working on as a team this year.”
  3. Implementation Intent. Your team can answer the question, “I know if we are winning with clear progress tracking on how we are doing.”

These three types of intention plans give us knowledge about our current location and orient our direction. They are like a rope in a snowstorm and keep our activities focused so that we continue to move towards our goals.

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