Advantages of Strategic Intent Thinking

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28 February 2016

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Though strategic intent thinking and strategic planning aim at one thing, they are quite different from one another. The former involves development and application of high-level and unique business strategies with the aim of attaining competitive advantage for the firm. Strategic intent helps firms to focus on new capabilities to tap future opportunities. The notion is internally focused and has serious implications on how a business competes. The process is characterized by broad and long-term target, and relates sense of urgency as well as lengthens attention.  The major purpose of strategic intent is to help organizations share a common intention in order survive business competition and adapt to changes in the business world.

Strategic planning is defined by (Miztberg, 1994) as an analysis of business operations. The analysis involves breaking business goals into manageable parts, designing how steps are implemented and estimating the anticipated outcomes of each goal. According to this definition, the process elaborate goals and strategies that already exist. Strategic planning supports strategies that have been developed through strategic thinking.

The two processes aims at raising the performance of the firm. However, they have significant differences. Strategic intent thinking is intent focused. It allows managers and all other stakeholders to commit themselves for as long as a certain strategy works. When applied to Costco Company, it can be noted that Costco employees are well   paid, which eliminates workers turnover. This means that the employees at Costco are motivated to ensure strategy works no matter the time it takes.

Strategic intent thinking takes into consideration the past, the present and the future, unlike strategic planning which considers the future only. This means that strategy should not be driven by the future intent alone. The gap between today and tomorrow is very important when devising a business strategy. In addition to this, strategic intent think is responsive to business opportunities. This means that managers who employ this system of thinking are able to identify future opportunities and prepare to take them. Costco seems to employ this strategy. The company managers anticipate its sales to rise by 2017 because of the increased use of the internet. Internet continues to create new demand for goods and services. This means that Costco must revise its goals and missions to tap the demand being created by the use of the internet.

According to( DeGeus ,1988) the traditional view of strategy emphasizes on the degree to which a business fits between current opportunities and existing resources while strategic intent brings misfit between ambitions and resources.  He further argues that the process requires a number of people who should understand their organization’s work. This way, they will be able to think strategically and work towards achieving organizational goals.

Back to our case study, it can be noted that Costco understands that a business does not operate in vacuum.  With this in mind, Costco strives to conserve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is one way of cutting down operational costs, and can help the company achieve a competitive advantage. On the other hand, Costco pays its employees more salary than the industry average. This way, Costco is able to operate at serene environment, which has no disruptions such as strikes.


DeGeus, A. P. (1988, March/April). Planning as learning. Harvard Business Review, 70-74.

Mintzberg, H. (1994). The fall and rise of strategic planning. Harvard Business Review, 107-114.

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"Advantages of Strategic Intent Thinking" StudyScroll, Feb 28, 2016.

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StudyScroll. (2016). Advantages of Strategic Intent Thinking. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5-Dec-2023]

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