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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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(June 23, 2003) - We're of two minds on the subject of intentions. In a business arrangement, the road to hell is paved with good ones. Intentions can neither be measured nor spent. They should not be used in performance assessments. The best of intentions may lead to the worst of results.

Neither supplier nor customer should ever expect that good intentions will be sufficient to meet contractual requirements. When we hear someone mutter "I did the best I could", we know that it is usually the beginning of a litany of excuses. It's the starting point for a "Please let me off the hook" pitch. We'd rather hear "I failed at the task. Here's my workaround plan."

This area of intentions (those expressed in a public way) is a murky swamp. Years of training and work experience have taught us that public intentions do not matter a whit. The work is done or it isn't. The payment arrived or it didn't. The great recruit was hired or she wasn't. Intentions are simply not the stuff of commerce. It is a mistake to measure a business outcome with a curve for either potential or intention.

Never the less, intention is a powerful tool that should be harnessed in both offline and online Recruiting.

An intention is a planned outcome. As an element of moment-to-moment (and even long-term) planning, intentions can critically shape our interactions and encounters. The very act of having a clear intention is often enough to create profound momentum. Having an intention means that you have spent some energy thinking about a situation and desire a specific result. With an intention in mind, behavior can be shaped to produce the result.

Clear intentions linked with the right behavior can produce staggering consequences. The tiniest of interactions can be turned positive and productive with a clear focus on a specific result. Like a wooden block in the martial arts, intentions can be the way we see through the obstacles to produce a specific outcome.

Think about your employment website. We've talked before about the importance of having a single outcome in mind for each page. This is a form of intention that answers the question "What do you want to have happen here?" The best pages strip away all other obstacles and try to move the visitor's behavior towards the single intention.

While it all begins with the right intention, the work begins when you discover that the intention wasn't sufficient. For a web page, this means simultaneously evaluating the intention and the page. Were both clear enough to produce the desired result? How should they be modified?

The difference between a public and a private intention is that one is used to generate performance while the other is used to excuse it. Measured, evaluated and improved, intentions powerfully create. Used as justification or defense, they obscure the truth. Measure your results against your intentions, to be sure. Understand that performance is what matters in the final analysis. Use your intentions to guide your improvements.

John Sumser

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