Higher Intent 3- Communication

Posted on December 4, 2009


In the previous installment of the ‘Higher Intent’ series, we spoke about how thinking in the frame of higher intent allows us to add value to our task. In the third installment, we shall discuss about how we can communicate in the language of ‘Higher Intent’ to maximize our results.

We know that thinking in the frame of ‘Higher Intent’ helps us to achieve flexibility in approach and allows us to determine the true purpose of a task, hence allowing us to add value to it. Wouldn’t it be helpful, then, to have those around us thinking in the same way? Should our subordinates learn to think in the frame of ‘Higher Intent’, they would be able to understand the rationale of the task we assign to them and hence, producing greater results. Should our superiors be able to explain the higher intent of the task to us, it’d allow us to better satisfy the larger objective of the organization.

These can all be achieved through using the language of ‘Higher Intent’. The purpose of this language is to allow us to communicate in a way that makes the higher intent clear to the party we are communicating with and hence, allow them to think in the frame of Higher Intent themselves. Ready to dive in to the details? Here we go:

The first rule is to always explain the rationale of an assignment. This way, our team members would know the purpose behind getting the job done and can then tailor their approach to suit the higher intent. For instance, instead of giving the instruction “I want the report up by noon”, we can choose to say “I need the report to be up by noon so that I can look through it quickly before submitting the idea for implementation.” Notice how the second statement paints a much clearer picture to the employee compared to the first and hence allows him to know the purpose behind his task. In a way, communicating through Higher Intent makes your problem your teams’ problem and this allows them to solve the problem alongside you instead of blindly following orders.

The second rule is to steer well clear of in depth details. This allows our listener to focus on the higher intent and avoid being confused by the minor details which they would be able to derive anyway. This also allows for room for our team to practice creativity and initiative. Here’s an example. “I want the shop layout to be as such: The rows should be facing the door with a ten foot space in between them. The groceries will be placed here, the poultry will be there, and the miscellaneous items will be at the corner etc.” Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Realise that whoever is the poor person at the listening end would probably have a hard time remembering and will likely take the instructions at face value. I believe the listener would much rather this. “I’d like the layout to be such that it is spacious enough for shoppers to pass and the items are logically organised.” This is much clearer, isn’t it? The meat does NOT have to be here; the fish need NOT be there. Just so long as the intent of being organised is fulfilled, won’t that be enough? Only then can the listener help fulfill your intention and exhibit some flexibility and creativity.

Leadership Lesson- Communicating through higher intent by explaining the rationale and giving only enough details allows our team to think with us and not work for us, and endows them with the opportunity to be flexible and creative, ultimately value adding to our objectives.

See also:

The Higher Intent 1- Flexibility

The Higher Intent 2- Adding Value

The Higher Intent 4- Success Strategies