Why it’s important to document intent [CHANGE LEADERSHIP]

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Because you did this one thing this other negative thing happened to me. 

Grrr. It stings more if we think it was on purpose. And remember people jump to conclusions if they don’t know all the details. 

Recommended reading: 

When people jump to conclusions

Our actions and stories impact others. Sometimes unintentional and sometimes we’ll never know that and how they did.  This is especially a problem for some leaders who never hear the actual truth of how actions impacted people.

And while I would encourage everyone to be open and participate in their own stories, journeys and experiences, there’s also a way to improve impact for those of us affecting change in industries, companies and communities. 

Write down your intent! Share it publicly. Remind people of it. Especially when people are questioning the intent. 

Recommended reading:

Previous thoughts on why intent matters 

Behaviors overrule disclaimers [SOCIAL MEDIA]

And let’s not forget that life is getting more and more complicated. People institute policies on top of policies. Unwritten rules on top of written guidelines. And some have processes to manage processes. Of course let’s not forget about laws.

Innovation can lead to unintended consequences. 

Thinking about laws reminds me of a Freedom of Information ruling from a decade or longer ago. The judge said something to the affect of that the incident wasn’t necessarily technically breaking the law but it certainly was against the spirit of the law.

I don’t remember what the ruling was but it certainly opens an interesting discussion surrounding the intent and also unintended consequences.

And of course, the more rules there are, the more loopholes there will be. 

The very first social media policy I wrote  required employees to link back to the organization’s site. Basically, people tweeted away like normal and then added an irrelevant link. Technically in compliance but that wasn’t the spirit. And to be perfectly honest, it was a terrible social media policy – the first one I did. We all learn as we go. 

So, as changes are thought about, pushed forward and then implemented here’s an initial checklist to get going:

  • Be open and share ideas along the way with potential stakeholders. 
  • State your intent – over and over and over. (People forget and don’t always hear everything anyway.)
  • Document your intent. Maybe even blog about it! 
  • Be open and encourage to hear about  impact of changes – especially negative ones. And especially unintended ones. 
  • Figure out a way to fix them – openly and quickly. 
  • Roll things out in a phased approached. (Related reading: Phased approach in content marketing)

Keep innovating and pushing for greater purposes and improvements. Longer term those things make the journey worthwhile. Let’s just not forget about the communication along the way.