What is the intent?

It is that time of year, when the whole world is coloured with festivities. While the western world celebrates the holiday season, Indian households are spending bulk of their savings on the wedding season. I am a proud Indian and a happily married wife. Yet, I have never understood the intent behind the pompous Indian weddings. Each time I attend a Great Indian Wedding, I cannot help but wonder why? What is the intent behind all this extravaganza?

The intent does not seem to be:

  • Celebration and happiness, because all I see are tired, sleep deprived, stressed faces of the organizers (parents and immediate family)
  • Related to the guests as most of them are only concerned about what they wore, ate and received as gifts. They don’t really care about the couple at all.
  • Securing the future of the couple, as all the investment, could have paid for the best of education, built a house or insured the future of the couple.

So what is the intent?

  • The intent could be to fuel the billion dollar marriage industry which provides livelihood to thousands of artisans around the country. However, I would not even buy that as a valid intent, as most marriage purchases are done through tough negotiations, often squeezing the neck of the vendors supplying the flowers, food and gifts.

Many times, in the name of tradition, culture, religion or process (in the Professional context) we continue to repeat a certain task, without questioning the intent or purpose behind it. Just because everyone has been doing it since ages, we continue to repeat it. It could also be that our intent is completely different than what we project it to be. In the example of marriages, I am guessing the real intent is to boast about one’s own wealth. However, since boasting about wealth will be considered obnoxious, the projected intent is love for the couple getting married. It is not necessarily wrong to showcase wealth but it is wrong to promote one intent in the guise of another. I call such intent “misplaced intent”.

When the intent is wrong (or misplaced), it is bound to create conflicting expectations and poor outcomes.

What should be the intent behind a Manager sharing feedback with his/her team?

  • Should the intent be to make them feel bad and repent their mistake, or
  • Should the intent be to enable them to learn from the mistake and grow to be a better team

Only when the manager is clear about the intent in his/her mind that they can effectively communicate the feedback to his/her team.

Intent is the steering wheel of the car that decides the direction, and therefore the journey, which people in the car take. Don’t mess with the intent, cause a car with a malfunctioning steering wheel can only lead to a crash.