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Brian Nolan

When I started Nolan Consulting Group in 2004, my accountant said to me: “what’s the strategic intent of your business”. I gave him a puzzled look. I had done some work on strategic intent in the corporate world, but I had never really thought about it with our spanking new business. He went on to say that you should never start a business without a plan to get out of it (an exit plan). He said that it’s important to know what you want the business to be when it grows up. This long-range mindset and strategic context are important to have when making major decisions. I loved it and immediately began to write my long term plan, looking 10 – 15+ years out.

In the field of management and organizational development, strategic intent is defined as a compelling statement about where an organization is going that succinctly conveys a sense of what that organization wants to achieve in the long term.

Strategic intent implies a sizable stretch for an organization. Current capabilities and resources will not suffice. This forces the organization to be more inventive, to make the most of limited resources. Whereas the traditional view of strategy focuses on the degree of fit between existing resources and current opportunities, strategic intent creates an extreme misfit between resources and ambitions. Top management then challenges the organization to close the gap by systematically building new advantages. With strategic intent, we always need to ask ourselves if our current strategy is in line with our final destination.

Some Questions to Consider:
  • What is your Ultimate Goal for the business?
  • What do you want out of it?
  • What do you want for your employees?
  • How will your business be different than today?
  • What is your timeframe for stepping out of the business? Is there a “number” you need for retirement?
  • Do you have an idea or plan for how you will exit? Ex, Sell to an outsider, Close the doors, cash flow-retain ownership, hand-off to a
  • Management Team.
  • Looking ahead, what most excites you about the future?
  • What is most worrisome about the future?

Consider spending time on thinking through and writing down your strategic intent. I promise it will make you smile and make today’s problems a little easier to handle.

Remember to always follow your dreams,


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