Our case studies provide compelling evidence leading through intent works in practice

Directional strategy enables a business to cope with radical uncertainty. Agile practices enable a business to innovate at speed. But the core of any business seeking to reap the benefits of agility at scale is an agile operating model.

The approach we have adopted to create an agile operating model is leading through intent. For nearly two decades, we have been building up experience in embedding the principles of leading through intent in businesses large and small across a wide range of sectors.

In business, perfection is a chimera and seeking it can be positively dangerous. The purpose of strategy is not to guarantee success, but to shift the odds in your favour. So we are not naïve or arrogant enough to claim that leading through intent solves everybody’s problems under all circumstances. But in all the cases we have worked on the effects have been overwhelmingly positive.

The practical evidence suggests that introducing leading through intent raises performance by some 5-10%, and that as it becomes established as the default operating model and people hone the skills required to make it work, that rate of improvement can be sustained over time and creates a performance gap that competitors find it hard to close.

The specific value varies from case to case.

Some historically very devolved companies benefit from the increase in focus and efficiency resulting from high alignment.

Others which have historically been tightly controlled from the centre benefit from the increased flexibility and responsiveness resulting from high autonomy.

But there is a consistent pattern of benefits across almost all cases which tend to accumulate over time:

  • Increased speed of decision-making because of greater clarity

  • Improved productivity because of greater focus

  • Shorter cycle times because of faster decisions

  • Greater creativity because of devolved accountability within a clear intent

  • Faster learning because of shorter feedback loops

  • Increased motivation and employee engagement

Explore our three case studies of Agile Strategy in action

Our biotechnology case study shows how a culture based on leading through intent helps you to recover from a sudden unexpected setback.

Our Formula 1 team case study shows how a high-performance organisation can improve even further by introducing leading through intent at all levels of leadership.

Our case study in a chemical engineering company shows how Agile Strategy can enable a strategic turnaround when the odds look hopeless.


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