Dec 17 – Leading from the backseat “I INTEND TO …”


In the great book Turn the Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level, David Marquet describes how he turned around the worse submarine in the US Navy to one of the best through a number of leadership behavior changes. One of the concepts he describes is how he shifted from a having passive follower that did what he was telling them what to do into active leaders that would describe what they thought was the appropriate actions in the given situation. One of the tools he used for this was the “I INTEND TO …” procedure.

The “I INTEND TO …” procedure basically turns the leader-follower model around 180 degrees. Instead of telling people what to do, the people express their intent what they will do. Then the leader will take a coaching stance and if needed ask clarifying questions. An example from the book:

Captain, I intend to submerge the ship. We are in water we own, water depth has been checked and is 400 feet, all men are below, the ship is rigged for dive, and I’ve certified my watch team.

At this point the captain can then ask clarifying question, if needed. The captain could questions like:

  • Is safe submerge?
  • Is appropriate to submerge at this time?
  • Is this part of our bigger mission/objective?

Through this coaching dialog the captain can get a greater understanding of the thinking and understanding of his officers. He could the give clarifying information and coaching so the captain and the officers would share the same objectives and understanding of the current situation.

If the “I INTEND TO …” statement contains all the appropriate information the captain need he only need to give the “very well” approval.

This is my Lean/Agile Advent Calendar. I will publish a short post on a Lean/Agile topic every day up until Christmas. I will based each days topic on what is behind the door in the LEGO® City Advent Calendar.  So be sure to check back every day!

DISCLAIMER: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this post and blog in any way.

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