I just finished reading survey responses about strategic priorities from a senior management team. The lack of consistency in their responses reminded of an experience I had on the island of Kerkennah off the coast of Tunisia. (more…)
Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new information as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs and theories. And it is the only way to explain how Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts can simultaneously be seen as breaking every Boy Scout rule and upholding the values of the Boy Scouts. We hear what we want to hear. Regardless of your own beliefs, you can’t listen to the daily and starkly opposing interpretations of every political news story and not be impressed with the incredible power of confirmation bias.
Of course, you might conclude that only the idiots on the opposite side of each issue are guilty of confirmation bias. You might be quite sure that your interpretation is the only rational and fact-based reaction. You’d be wrong. (more…)
Success and profits come from devoting resources to activities that create value for which customers are willing to pay and minimizing resources devoted to everything else. If you are serious about improving results, you need to take a good hard look at the time you and your employees spend on the following activities: (more…)
Clarity. If you’ve ever watched a lean assembly line, you’ve seen it. Or a busy short-order cafe. The line up process of a large well-run marathon. Even a Montessori classroom where thirty pre-schoolers excitedly and respectfully pursue as many as thirty independent activities. (more…)
If your organization is at all on top of things, your production line is lean and mean. The processes used to produce and deliver value for which customers are willing to pay are well-defined and reliable. You measure productivity in widgets per hour and expect 99.9% uptime and nearly zero defects. Priorities are clear. Routines are well-established. Roles are well-understood. Employees know exactly what to do, how, how well, with whom, when, and in what order. When necessary, they make decisions with confidence and without delay because they understand the objectives, options, and trade-offs, they have appropriate authority, and they know where to turn for additional information. In other words, they are Radically Clear. As a result, they are ultra productive. This is the region marked by the letter A on the graphic.
Now consider what happens outside that region. As you move away from production and into ‘The B Zone,’ clarity takes a dive! And with it goes productivity! (more…)
As you undoubtedly know, my passion is clarity. And I’m on a mission to stamp out the confusion that erodes profits, productivity, and morale in companies like yours. Today, I want to share a couple of stories that demonstrate the power of clarity. Specifically, the power of clarity to empower! These stories involve competent, dedicated employees. People just like you. People who could have been empowered by clarity. But weren’t. People who suffered, while wasting time, thanks to a lack of clarity.
A coaching client of mine recently bemoaned the fact that he had been waiting three weeks for feedback from his vice president on his marketing plan. I asked him what he had asked for. He had asked her to review the plan. I asked him what he needed. He needed approval to implement. He hadn’t asked for what he needed! That’s not clarity! And it empowers no one!
The next day he asked for approval. Guess what happened? (more…)
When I hear The Star Spangled Banner, whether at a hockey game or on the 4th of July, a tear or two of pride and appreciation for the sacrifices of others appear in the corner of each eye. Today, as red, white, and blue pop up everywhere in preparation for the nation’s birthday party, my feelings are more complicated. Frankly, I am quite horrified by the divisiveness in which we seem to be swimming, maybe drowning.
Strength, wisdom, and greatness come from finding common ground and working with others to make things better.This is true for individuals, businesses, families, and governments. Making it happen for businesses and non-profits is basically what I do for a living. United we stand, divided we fall. Furthermore, we need all the brain power and cooperation we can get.
But it isn’t happening in the US right now. I’m not seeing any effort to find common ground. Nor to formulate some kind of shared vision for what we want this country to be. I’m not seeing an effort to work together either, though we will never, ever agree on how to make things better if we don’t first agree on what “better” looks like. (more…)
Clarity improves productivity, determination, and engagement. I hope that much is obvious.
Unfortunately, you don’t see the disclarity you’ve always lived with. It’s like being in a smoky room. Or a house that smells like last night’s dinner. You get used to it. It’s not until you leave and return from the fresh air outside that your nose crinkles.
Disclarity works the same way. It is hard to recognize without that contrast. And, if it surrounds you, if it permeates your organization’s activities, where is the contrast?
Many people experience snippets of clarity here and there while at work, but few stop to examine what just happened. Instead, they are delighted with the speed, the answers, and the progress. Those who attend sessions I facilitate are amazed by how much we accomplish. Once you witness sufficient examples of clarity driving rapid progress and creating strong commitment, you start to recognize the level of disclarity surrounding you. These are the readers who write me and beg me to fix their companies. These are the CEOs who call on Monday morning. They feel it. They are frustrated by the disclarity. But they know that no matter how clear they are, they aren’t in a position and don’t have the ability to synchronize the thoughts and energy of others in order to create the amazing speed and buy-in that results from clarity. (more…)
While flying back to Boston after business in Chicago this week, I was admiring the fields and trees far below sporting that wonderful spring green. The sun was shining. It looked like a lovely day.
Then the pilot came on and announced that we were cruising above 31,000 feet and the temperature outside was 2 degrees below zero.
The contrast between that spring feeling and his announcement was a shock. That we could be in such a different place while flying over springtime just didn’t seem possible in that moment. Of course, I wasn’t surprised, once jolted from my reverie.
But it made me think of all the times people get lost in their assumptions every day. Assumptions more important than the weather. Assumptions about people and their intentions. Assumptions about the causes of problems while leaping to irrelevant solutions. Assumptions about objectives while arguing alternatives. Assumptions about communication when talking without listening. (more…)