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.
Who Lifts You Up?
The pilot snapped my daydream and brought me back to reality. Who snaps yours when your productivity suffers and you get lost in the daily grind? When you struggle to reach agreement on a difficult decision? When you are running so fast you don’t have time to think? When you give up and let your team adopt a solution that can’t possibly eliminate the cause of a problem? When you see lips moving but aren’t really listening? Who gives you the jolt you need to step back and see the big picture, clarify objectives, and establish a process? Who has the skill, technique, and permission to interrupt and intervene?
It could be no one. You either plow ahead or turn away. You are not operating at peak productivity. You are not moving things forward efficiently and effectively.
Your employees have the same problem. They get bogged down, go in circles, and make bad choices. In fact, peak productivity may be rare for them.
Clarity Boosts Productivity
What you need is a culture of clarity. Shared clarity. When everyone on your team really knows how to create clarity–how to clarify purpose, process, and roles–and can speak about it using a shared vocabulary, you will have many co-pilots able to interrupt and intervene as needed. Regardless of who is or isn’t in the room, or how fast the plates are spinning, you will be surrounded by multiple people with the insight and skill needed to get everyone on the same page and prevent the dysfunction of disclarity. It is time to focus on clarity and acquire the skills that will allow you and your employees to create clarity on the fly. Creating a culture of clarity requires investing in a paradigm shift and new skills, but the benefits in terms of productivity and empowerment provide a fantastic return-on-investment.