Communicating Your Intent.

There is an old joke in the Canadian Armed Forces that goes like this.  During a training exercise, an Army Officer, a Naval Officer and an Air Force Officer were shown three identical buildings.  Each was assigned one building and told that they had eight hours to secure it, at which time their instructors would come to review what they had done.

Eight hours later:

  • The Army Officer had established roadblocks and checkpoints around his building with sandbags, razor wire and machine guns.
  • The Naval Officer gave the instructors the phone number for the security guard at the night desk and advised that all occupants had been told to turn off their lights and computers at the end of the work day.
  • The Air Force Officer proudly showed a three-year lease on the building with an option for renewal.

Each of those individuals had “secured” their building – according to their organization’s definition of the word.

To quote one of my mentors: “Accurately communicating your intent is the single most difficult thing that you have to do as a leader.”   You know what you want.  You’ve told your staff.  You’ve empowered them to take action and make decisions.  But is the “mental model” in their head the same as the one in yours?  How will you know?  Let’s talk about it.