Intentions, Actions and Business Outcomes

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The aphorism “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is particularly apt when looking at businesses or governments that aren’t doing as well as they should.

Intending to do something is not the same as actually doing it. It can be likened to an archer intending to hit a bulls eye. They may string the bow, nock the arrow but unless they aim and release the arrow the desired outcome will not be achieved.

Worse still, decision makers announcing their intention to do things that have the purpose of making them personally look good at the expense of doing things that may be unpopular will accelerate the trip.

Governments seem to be particularly good at stating their intentions. How often however is the government’s constituency disappointed in that there are no acceptable outcomes either defined or realised. Flagging one’s intentions to undertake a particular activity so often seems to be an excuse not to do what is needed.

Hearing “This is what I want” rather than “This is what we need” is not what is required for a good business outcome.

The language that is used by decision makers is critical if they wish to have any credibility.

By all means state “I intend to do X”.

This statement should however be accompanied with some success criteria.

I intend to do X by (date and time) and the outcome will be Y. The benefit of doing X will be Z This will be realised by W.

Once stated it becomes obvious what is to be done, why, when and what benefits are to be expected. Success or failure can be easily determined and the credibility of the decision maker in turning intentions into beneficial actions can be readily assessed.

The alternative of stating an intention without identifying a beneficial outcome and then not converting into action delvers no benefit to anyone at all.

To avoid the path to a figurative business ‘hell’ doing is more important than saying. Doing the right thing is even better.

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