04: Tell the future

You can learn from history, but you can change the future. That makes communicating intent across your org an actual superpower. When contributors do it, leaders can course-correct before days/weeks/months get burned. When leaders do it, contributors can drive progress autonomously.

The theory

Too many organizations default to a culture of working reactively — addressing the new chat request that just popped up, the issue that landed on your plate, etc. — and end up making very little forward progress on the high-impact work that’s more important, but less urgent.

Consistently communicating intent — via daily plans, weekly objectives, or long term goals — is an inherently clarifying practice, and a way to shift your culture from reactive to proactive. It pushes people to focus on outcomes, and provides a simple, effective framework for prioritizing work.

Working With and Without Intent

For managers, a culture of communicating intent is a powerful tool for eliminating risk. Managers have ample time to step in and course correct before days/weeks/months of time and resources get burned working in the wrong direction.

For contributors, the upside is more trust, and more autonomy. Consistent communication and consistent delivery lets managers and peers know that you’re more than capable of working without heavy-handed intervention.

As the practice develops, the intentions become more pointed, course-corrections become rare, and opportunities for trust-eroding micro-management disappear.

Further reading