In addition to training, I also consult with organizations in the area of strategic planning, governance and enterprise architecture. On many occasions I\u2019m asked to help with evaluating their business strategic plans and make sure they represent the direction the business wants (and should) pursue.\nThe term strategic intent comes up quite often. What exactly is strategic intent and how does an organization go about determining what direction to take?\nStrategic Intent was first discussed by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad in 1984, but it gained wider prominence when they published an article about it in the Harvard Business Review in 1989. Simply stated, strategic intent represents a succinct and cohesive vision of an organization\u2019s aspired direction of growth.\nThis strategic focus plays an important role in shaping how resources are allocated and what future capabilities might be required to achieve this direction. Many of my client\u2019s challenges include questions like \u201cAre we going in the right direction?\u201d or \u201cDo I have the right resources and capabilities to achieve this new vision?\u201d These are great questions to ask. Blindly following direction without a plan is like throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. And yet many companies do exactly that. Or, perhaps worse, completely miss an opportunity because they are working with faulty data or assumptions.\nWe are living in an ever-changing environment. Marshall Goldsmith wrote a book entitled What Got You Here Won\u2019t Get You There. And while he was talking mostly about personal leadership development, I believe the same premise can be applied to organizations.\nFormer Intel CEO Andy Grove said it best: \u201cA corporation is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin. Methods have to change. Focus has to change. Values have to change. The sum total of those changes is transformation.\u201d Organizations are influenced by many factors in their environments. It could be opportunities (such as new or retiring technologies), threats (such as competitors) or constraints (regulations, for example). This ever-changing environment impacts the strategic context of the organization as defined by Peter Weill and Marianne Broadbent in their book Leveraging the New Infrastructure: How Market Leaders Capitalize on IT. This strategic context incorporates not only the strategic intent but also an understanding of the organization\u2019s core competency, current strategy and business governance. This changing environment impacts what products or services to deliver, and more importantly, what investments (in terms of people, processes and technology) the organization must make in order to achieve the desired results.\nRather than blindly going in a direction without understanding which direction is best, an organization should first do its homework and identify and analyze the key drivers of change in the strategic or business environment. One common method is to use the PESTLE Analysis tool. The abbreviation stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors. The tool allows users to assess the current environment and potential changes. I will talk more about PESTLE in future articles.\nAn organization\u2019s strategic intent should answer not only \u201cWhat are we trying to accomplish?\u201d but also the question \u201cWhat is driving us to go in that direction?\u201d In fact, an effective strategic intent not only provides a sense of direction but also a sense of discovery where the organization can learn about best practices in its industry (and avoid making the mistakes of others), and sense of destiny that defines the future vision of what the organization is aspiring to become.\nDo you know your organization\u2019s strategic intent? How do you identify and analyze your key drivers of change? I would love to hear your thoughts.