Moving to

I'm moving to Mostly.

I plan to use that site as a "self-marketing website" of sorts and to manage content in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do on blogger alone.

This blog will stay, ostensibly for more provisional ideas prior to refinement. I'll be gradually moving content (I still like) over to the other website. =)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Intent

In organizations, we have people supporting projects wherein some people do bit parts under the direction of more senior people. That is by and large the case. Many a times, junior team members feel disconnected from the project, not engaged at all to their work. In most instances, this boils down to one thing, one thing that took me a long time to learn to ask.

What is the intent? What is this project intended to achieve? This section my team is working on, how does it serve the intent? This sub-section I am working on, how is it helping? Only if one sees and takes in interest in the larger objectives of a project can one be engaged. Only if one understands the aims of his task can one truly be effective.

It is interesting how long it takes to learn a simple lesson. I've observed that the public sector, from a broad historical perspective, acted very much in line with WW2 Germany's Auftragstaktik (which was cited as the reason for the superiority of the German's warfighting ability to that of the allied forces). Subordinate commanders were given a clear picture of the intent at a higher level (i suppose sometimes 2 levels higher) and were given leave to act independently, given that clear understanding of the intent of each engagement or campaign.

Before I entered the public service, and at a time where it looked like I would join a ministry, it was hinted to me that I should look into past policies to understand their intent before crafting reports and policy papers. It took a while and some observation to realize how things worked in the public sector.

Today, at lunch, it was pointed out that junior engineers feel disengaged. And anecdotes arose as to how things fail to work. They boiled down to ineffective transmission of intent. The Singapore public service is huge, yet it is far more effective than those of other countries. Yet, as the anecdotes suggest, there is room for improvement.

The question then is, what measures can be taken so intent can be effectively transmitted? This is very much doable, but takes will. A tougher question relates to the transmission of intent where security and secrecy is a concern.

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