The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Commander's Intent'?

Commander's Intent means explaining why something must be done when assigning a task to someone. The more your agent understands the purpose behind what must be done, the better he/she will do it. By being clear about the purpose behind a plan, others can act toward that goal without the need of constant communication.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Commander's Intent'

Almost universally, people hate to be told exactly what to do. “Micromanagement” is the bane of any worker’s existence — if you’re a competent professional, nothing is more demeaning than someone else defining and scrutinizing your work to the last detail.

Micromanagement isn’t simply annoying — it’s extremely inefficient. Not only does spelling out every single detail make people feel less Important, it actually impairs their effectiveness. No set of instructions, no matter how detailed, is capable of covering every contingency. When something inevitably changes, micromanagement fails.

Think of how overwhelmed a CEO who insists on micromanagement will inevitably become – human beings don’t Scale. The more people who work for the company, the more directions the CEO must give to keep everything moving. If you have ten employees, micromanagement is a hassle. If you have hundreds or thousands, it’s a nightmare.

Commander’s Intent is a much better method of delegating tasks: whenever you assign a task to someone, tell them why it must be done. The more your agent understands the purpose behind your actions, the better they’ll be able to respond appropriately when the situation changes.

Commander’s Intent originated on the battlefield. If a general tells a field commander precisely how to capture a hill and the situation changes, the field commander is forced to return to the general for new orders, which is very slow and inefficient. If the general explains the strategy to the field commander and explains why that particular hill is important and how it will support the overall strategy, the field commander is free to use their knowledge of the Goal and fresh intelligence to act in a new way that supports the original intent.

Commander’s Intent alleviates Communication Overhead. By communicating the intent behind a certain plan, a leader can make constant communication less critical for the success of the entire team. If everyone understands the purpose of the plan, everyone can act in ways that support the intent without requiring constant attention.

When you communicate the intent behind your plans, you allow the people you work with to intelligently respond to changes as they happen.

Questions About 'Commander's Intent'


"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

General George S. Patton


From Chapter 8:

Working With Others


https://personalmba.com/commanders-intent/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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