An organizational vision is directional and long-term and a strategic intent is a bridge and a milestone to the strategic vision. Hamel and Prahalad in their book “Competing for the future” – defined strategic intent as ‘ambitious and compelling’. A strategic intent mobilizes the entire organization effort in the right direction thru’ the key milestones. Please read more on the ‘Vision’ at http://tiny.cc/bmg5b
A strategic intent is energized thru’ its strategic architecture. The strategic architecture channelizes all the organizational resources and communications towards the strategic intent. Yet a sense of stretch is needed – as current resources and capabilities are not sufficient for the task. Gaps in technology and the intellectual expertise and skills required to move ahead are identified and acquired speedily (Core competencies). A few examples will illustrate how a strategic intent helps move a company towards its vision.
NEC versus GTE (now Verizon)
NEC (Nippon Electric Company) a much smaller Japanese company overtook and repulsed a much larger American company GTE (now Verizon). NEC set their strategic intent as ‘computers and communication’ or ‘C&C’. They forecasted that five to eight years ahead these two disparate technologies will merge and innovative products would flow out from this fusion such as mobile communication devices that have captured the markets. They developed the appropriate strategic architecture (road map) that guided their strategic moves to acquire appropriate companies and technologies to fill their own gaps.
Komatsu versus Caterpillar
Komatsu vision was to be among the top in the world and it declared a bold strategic intent. The story of Komatsu versus the world leader the American Caterpillar Tractor Company reveals how a smaller company can take-on a much larger adversary successfully. Caterpillar a world leader wanted to monopolize the Japan market. The main competitors they faced within the Japanese market were Komatsu and Mitsubishi. Komatsu was especially dangerous to Caterpillar as they were the second largest company worldwide. Due to this danger Caterpillar decided to penetrate the Japanese market through a joint venture with Mitsubishi.
With the threat of the Caterpillar/Mitsubishi venture taking place Komatsu decided on revitalization of the company. Komatsu in this period was going through bad times yet they counter attacked boldly. Komatsu announced an aggressive strategic intent – the battle cry of
‘Maru-C’ or ‘Encircle Caterpillar’. Rather than face Caterpillar frontally they did a pincer movement by setting up assembly plants in places like Brazil and Mexico. They also
established business relationships with multiple countries – thereby encircling Caterpillar.
A stunning win over its seemingly invincible American opponent was achieved. The success made Komatsu a world power in earth-moving machinery. An interesting point that surprised many was that Komatsu’s strength and energies came from an organizational culture that is known to be non aggressive and harmonious – typical of the Japanese culture and heritage.
The leadership at Tata’s set a strategic intent to manufacture the world’s cheapest car a ‘people’s car’ within a time-bound schedule – despite all odds.
Conclusion – an organization can use different ways to pursue its Vision – leadership, communication, empowerment, culture and values. Strategic intent is yet another way especially when the situation is adverse. All these great organizations and their leaderships had faith in themselves.
“Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark” ~Rabindranath Tagore