Commander’s Intent + 5 Questions That Set You Free

You thought hiring people would make running your business easier, not harder right? But oftentimes, you may feel like you are spending more time on solving their issues instead of growing the company.

Why do they come to you for so many silly little problems?

Maybe it’s leftovers from the Industrial Revolution. Some employees do only what they’re told. Come to work, put in the hours and get a paycheck every two weeks. If anything out of the ordinary happens, they are calling, texting or emailing you for a solution.

As you know, this doesn’t work so well at start-up. It slows everything down. Your tiny team must carry out all functions of a normal business and you can’t be everywhere at once. You need people who can drive the day-to-day without constant hand holding.

So how do you make this happen? I’m glad you asked.

Enter Commander’s Intent…

If you think your business is chaos, imagine war! Can you even fathom trying to organize 1000’s of soldiers and plan an invasion?

Believe it or not, the military once operated like this. They would plan every detail of an invasion, but found battles never went according to plan. With this in mind, the military created an organization strategy called Commander’s Intent.

Instead of planning every maneuver, now the Commander gives a core directive. For example, “Secure this city block and eliminate any enemy combatants.”

With Commander’s Intent in mind, units are free to make their own decisions. Everyone’s brain is switched on and working towards the same goal.

So how does this apply to you? When your employees know your intent, they have something to measure decisions against.

Are you starting to see the power here?

Now let’s supercharge Commander’s Intent with five simple questions.

5 Questions to Set You Free

I hope you already have a clear vision and goals for the company (ahem…your intent). So, here are those magic questions…

  1. Does it fit the company’s vision?
  2. Is it good for the customer?
  3. Is it good for the company?
  4. Am I willing to be held responsible for the consequences?
  5. Will it help the company meet its goals?

When facing a decision, an employee runs through the list of five questions. If they can answer yes to each question, they are free to make the decision.

Why do these questions work? You may not know it, but these five questions run through YOUR mind each time YOU make a decision for the company. So doesn’t it make sense for your employees to always ask the same questions?

The Magic of Commander’s Intent

Imagine you and your employees, all rowing in the same direction and headed towards the same goal.  What if each employee knew your intent by heart and carried it with them throughout the work day? How incredible would that be?

As CEO, you are the commander. You can’t be everywhere at once, nor can you make every little decision in your business. You just can’t.

But you can use the next best thing—Commander’s Intent and these five questions. Empower your people to make the right decisions.

Next Actions

Schedule meetings with your employees, explain commander’s intent. Give them a small laminated sheet with your company’s vision & goals along with the five questions.

Try it out and let me know your results in the comments below!