Intention Deficit Disorder

The Half-Life of Intention

We are surrounded by failed intentions — like fallen leaves, torn and wind-blown. Organizations can’t stay focused, and it feels like the half-life of intention is about three months. I have come to think of this as ‘intention deficit disorder.’

Never mind the bravado at the start. Only half of the original intention is left at the end of three months. Only a quarter at the end of six. Only an eighth at the end of nine. All is forgotten twelve months later.

Organizations lose sight of their original goal, constantly switching to something new and something newer — in the end completely losing the thread.

Flavor of the Month

The pattern is so familiar cynics call it ‘flavor of the month.’

There are many reasons why intention fails:

  • Organizations lose track of what they were trying to do
  • It’s harder than they expected
  • Something more seductive came along
  • The old boss is gone and this was his or her idea
  • There’s a new boss now with a better idea
  • There’s another burning issue
  • Nobody’s interested
  • There aren’t enough resources to do it
  • People are being rewarded now for doing something else

It’s hard to create real results when organizations work this way. The ability to sustain intention is one of the most significant character traits driving high performance.

This article is an excerpt from a book in progress on collaboration and transformative change. It was first posted on October 31, 2017, on LinkedIn.

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David Forrest

David is the founder of the Integral Strategy Network. He is a writer, futurist, strategist, and facilitator of systemic change.

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