Are You Intentional?

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Saturday, 24 December 2011 05:00

Intentional. One of my favorite words as of late… and a theme I am constantly preaching to my clients. Merriam-Webster defines intentional as being done by intention or design. Dictionary.com defines intentional as being done with intention or on purpose. Google suggests several synonyms for intentional including deliberate, willful, or purposeful. Intentionality implies we have thought things through, we have chosen a course of action, and we are willing to accept the consequences of those actions.

If we are going to succeed, we don’t want to succeed by accident. If we are going to fail, we don’t want to fail because we didn’t have a well thought-out plan of attack. Intentionality means that we have a clear line of sight between our activities and our outcomes. That’s not to say our intentions are always going to be right… our intentionality might not yield the outcomes we hoped for. If we are intentional though, we can understand what we did wrong, learn from it, and do something differently next time.

My oldest son is turning 16 in a few months. Zach is a great kid, but like any teenager he has his moments. One day he was giving me crap over something he didn’t think I was doing right. That day he felt compelled to share with me what he thought of a few decisions I had recently made. I told him that in no way did I think I was a perfect father, but also that I have always been very intentional with him. Almost every aspect of his life, good or bad, was as result of an intentional decision made by me or his Mom.

I think that made an impression on him, I could see it in his eyes. Wait a minute, Dad has a plan!?

Many folks come into work and lead their organizations they have always been lead. They do the things the way they have aways been done. They get the outcomes they always get because no one is intentional about changing things. No one is intentional about understanding the way we do things today, and understanding how a few intentional changes might make things better. Even introducing agile into an organization, we do things by the book. We fail by the book too… with no understanding of what might have gone wrong.

There are tons of things we can choose to do that will help us become great organizations. There are even more things we can choose to do that will almost certainly to lead to failure. Whichever path we choose to go down, intentionality makes all the difference. Decide a course of action, create shared understanding, and create a shared sense of purpose. Work together toward common goals. Succeed together because you had a plan to succeed…

… and what if that plan doesn’t work out the way you wanted?  Learn from your mistakes and be intentional about what you are going to try next.

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