Strategic Intent
(Hamel Prahalad)

Knowledge Center

Summary, forum, best practices, expert tips and information sources.

46 items • 571.201 visits



In 1989, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad created an upheaval with their article entitled "Strategic Intent". It was published in the Harvard Business Review. Hamel and Prahalad argue that in order to achieve success, a company must reconcile its purpose (end) with its means through Strategic Intent.

What is Strategic Intent? Description

In their book, Hamel and Prahalad define Strategic Intent as: an ambitious and compelling dream that energizes; which provides the emotional and intellectual energy for the journey to the future. If strategic architecture (a high-level blueprint for the deployment of new functionalities, the acquisition of new competencies or the migration of existing competencies, and the reconfiguring of the interface with customers) is the brain, strategic intent is the heart. It should express a feeling of stretch (challenge) - that current resources and capabilities are not sufficient for the task.

Strategic Intent Attributes

Hamel and Prahalad provided the following three attributes of strategic intent: direction, discovery, and destiny.

  1. Sense of Direction. A particular point of view about the long-term market or competitive position that a firm hopes to build over the coming decade or so. It should be a view of the future and it should express a sense of direction which unifies and personalizes.
  2. Sense of Discovery. A strategic intent differentiates; it implies a competitively unique point of view about the future. It holds out to employees the promise of exploring new competitive territory.
  3. Sense of Destiny. Strategic intent has an emotional side; it is a goal that employees perceive as inherently valuable.

Typical three steps Strategic Intent Process

  1. Set the Strategic Intent, having all three characteristics stated above.
  2. Set the Challenges. Find appropriate challenges and communicate them to the entire workforce. These challenges are the means to achieve the Strategic Intent. For example: Suppose the Strategic Intent of Canon is: "Beat Xerox". A strategic challenge could be: Develop a home copier at a target price of $1000.
  3. Empowerment of the Strategic Intent. Key in any Strategic Intent process is: to realize that achieving (getting into) the Strategic Intent is a matter that involves everybody. The task of Top Management here is to "capture the wisdom of the ants hill": change the traditional downward communication style to an upward communication stream of new ideas coming from the entire organization.

The background of this approach for corporate strategy, and strategic thinking in general, was the dramatic post-war ascent of Japanese companies. The Japanese economy increasingly dominated the world markets, by having initial ambitions that in the West would have been considered highly unrealistic. Unrealistic regarding their resources and capabilities. An obsession for winning was created and sustained at all levels of the organization. Thus the basis was created for a 10- to 20-year quest for global market leadership.

Book: Hamel & Prahalad - Competing for the future

Special Interest Group

Strategic Intent Special Interest Group.

Special Interest Group
Special Interest Group (187 members)


Forum discussions about Strategic Intent. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

topic Setting the Challenge of Strategic Intent
Should the challenge (always) be declared publicly?...
Comments2 comments
topic 4 Dimensions of Strategic Intent
Strategic Intent has four key dimensions and it is important to discern their inter-relatedness and distinctness at the same time. The Four Dimensions of Strategic Intent are: 1. The Desired Future S...
Comments1 comments
🔥 Start Every Activity with an Intent
We tend to forget that an intent paves the way to reach any objective. If we don't formulate an intent, that means we don't have any objective. Of course, things can be done without an intent, but yo...
topic Intent vs Strategic Values
Strategic intent must be underpinned by strategic values. The corporate world must understand that an obsession to win or achieve strategic intents notwithstanding, clear and 'sacred' strategic values...

Start a new topic

Start a new topic about Strategic Intent

Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about Strategic Intent. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

🥇 Measuring the Attributes of Strategic Intent
How to measure these three attributes: sense of direction, sense of discovery and sense of destiny?...
🥈 Strategic Intent - 2 Quotes
I like 2 sentences about S.I. From Competing for the Future: Page 148: ".. Strategic intent aims to create employee excitement, not just employee satisfaction", and Page 142 &ff: "direction, discove...
🥉 Strategic Intent accommodates all sides
It is hard to translate individual strategies of people in a company into corporate strategies. That is why a company has to have strategic intent in order to synergize individual concepts and compete...
Comments2 comments

topic Intent-Intent Made strategic
Strategic intent provides for the right frame of direction as well as geared towards the achievement of the company's common destiny as opposed to commonly observed motivations of success in most mana...
topic Strategic Intent Demands
Strategic Intent demands equal commitment from mind, body, and soul. Its an obsession. It is to walk thro the journey with clear-cut agenda to reach the destination of ultimate supremacy, distinct lea...
Comments1 comments

topic Strategic Intent Creates a Shared Obsesssion
The strategic intent concept helps to increase the abilty of an organization to achieve its strategic purpose by creating a strong shared desire or even obsession across the organization to achieve it...
topic You're Lost without Intent
Without strategic intent you are lost and as good as travelling in the dark without a torch. Strategic intent provides one with the weapon to overcome future hurdles....
Expert Tips

Advanced insights about Strategic Intent. Here you will find professional advices by experts.


Weaknesses of Strategic Intent

Strategic Intent Compared to Vision, and Mission
In an article Campbell and Yeung distinguish between vision, mission and strategic intent. According to the authors: - ...

Three Functions of a Mission (Statement)

Reasons for Creating a Mission (Statement)
Defining the mission statement is a major part of the strategic planning process. A mission has three functions or goals...

Content of Value Statements

Strategy, Leadership
Common Topics in organization’s value statements, include: - Commitment to such outcomes as customer satisfaction and ...

3 Stages of Cultural Change

Creating Cultural Change with Strategic Intent
In his 1994 paper "Leadership and Strategic Intent" Charles E. Smith identified three main stages in the process of cult...

How to Articulate, Communicate and Deliver on a Corporate Purpose Statement

How to Create a Corporate Purpose Statement, Corporate Mission, Organizational Purpose, Organizational Mission
A Corporate Purpose Statement (CPS) has at least 3 major functions: market definition, employee motivation and external ...

A Corporate Theory: Long-term Handhold and Guidance in Turbulent Times?

Inside-out Corporate Strategy, Corporate Visioning
According to Professor Todd Zenger, companies should focus less on competitive advantage (this isn't what really interes...

Success Story of Benetton

Impact of Strategic Intent on Organanizational Success
The impact of a consistent Strategic Intent on an organization can be better understood analyzing the success story of a...

4 Types of Mission Statements

Which Type of Mission Statement is Right for Your Firm?
Missions that have been formulated by company's can be very different from each other, depending on their goals / functi...

Dealing with Barriers in Strategic Intent

Overcoming Constraints in Executing Strategic Intent
Thinking about a future that is ‘unthinkable’, according to current standards, raises immediately the image of the pract...

Impact on Performance

Strategy, Formulation Mission
In a comparison of the performance of companies with “high-content” mission statements versus those with “low-content” m...

Strategic Intent in No-Profit (Peter Drucker)

Motivate by Strategic Intent
Peter Drucker, famous management guru once said: “The best management practice and most innovative methods now come from...

Strategic Intent and Organizational Culture

Effects of Implementation
When companies start adopting the Strategic Intent concept initially that didn't change much. In a first stage what real...

Putting Purpose at the Core of Strategy Works

Strategy, CSR, Stakeholder Management
IMD Professor Malnight A. O. Presented results of 8 years of study on high growth in companies, initially considering 3 ...

Strategic Intent Examples

Practical Cases
- Dr. Robert Barthelemy, Program Director of the National AeroSpace Plane Program, NASP was willing to create and manage...
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Strategic Intent. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.


Perspective: Biography Prahalad (1941-2010)

Developing a Broader Perspective towards the Ideas of Prahalad
A short biography on C.K. Prahalad's career and ideas....

Strategic Intent

Short Summary
Short article on Strategic Intent....

Research Links

Jump to further research sources regarding Strategic Intent.













Compare with Strategic Intent:  Ashridge Mission Model  |  Value Based Management  |  Core Competence  |  Bottom of the Pyramid  |  Moral Purpose  |  Clarkson Principles  |  Intrinsic Stakeholder Commitment  |  Strategic Stakeholder Management  |  Seven Surprises  |  Stakeholder Value Perspective  |  Shareholder Value Perspective  |  Spiral Dynamics  |  Co-Creation

Return to Management Hub: Change & Organization  |  Communication & Skills  |  Ethics & Responsibility  |  Human Resources  |  Leadership  |  Strategy & Innovation

More Management Methods, Models and Theory

Special Interest Group

Special Interest Group

Do you know a lot about Strategic Intent? Become our SIG Leader and gain worldwide recognition as an expert.

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.3 - Last updated: 3-10-2023. All names ™ of their owners.

12manage is looking for BA/MBA students. More info.