Strategies fail more often than they succeed. Occasionally it’s because they are stupid strategies. Most of the times the cause is a lack of clarity – a lack of specificity about where you are headed, how you will get there, and what must change. Consider these examples of typical failures: (more…)
Since it is summer reading season, I thought you would like to know that my daughter’s trilogy is on sale this week for just $.99 each. I think she is a wonderful writer, but I could be biased! Nonetheless, at this price, you can’t go wrong, can you?
If you like adventure, Vikings, Norse mythology, hearty characters, and a dash of fantasy, these could be just what you are looking for!
If you read any of her books, let me know your thoughts! Better yet, post a review on Amazon. That is what young writers desperately need to get their credibility ball rolling. Every review helps, even one word reviews. Did you know that Amazon won’t accept reviews from mothers and other close family members? I didn’t either until mine disappeared. The nerve! 🙂
While we are talking about books and honoring the familial fiction gene that clearly skipped me, my brother’s 15th thriller is now available for preorder. I like his books too and can’t wait until August 1st when this new one arrives at my doorstep.
For those of you with no time for fiction, here are some of my recent Forbes posts that you may have missed:
Strategic planning isn’t rocket science, but that doesn’t mean most organizations do it well! Here are the most common mistakes I see:
1. You do strategic planning because the calendar tells you it is time.
Why? What does the calendar know about your business and changes in your market?
2. You haven’t done strategic planning in several years and think it would probably be a good idea because you know you are supposed to do it more often than you have been.
If you are relying on external triggers like peer pressure and calendars, you are out of touch and don’t understand the purpose of strategic planning.
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…)
Since taking Ann’s workshop, the quality and effectiveness of my group meetings have increased significantly. Not only do we have more meaningful discussions on the most relevant topics, but we are able to consistently adhere to the allotted time. Because the entire group participated in the same workshop, we are all aligned on expectations, such as what level of preparation is expected prior to the meeting, basic accountability and responsibility expectations, and proper meeting protocol. This makes for more effective meetings and a high functioning team.
The benefits of the workshop go far beyond meeting effectiveness; they provide a framework for managers and leaders to deliver specific, constructive feedback, coaching, and mentoring of employees. For example, after attending a few meetings with my group I noticed that one of my technical leads was challenged at making decisions based on her experience and expertise. Under normal circumstances, this would have been masked by all the noise. This weakness became evident once expectations, roles, and responsibilities were established. With this revelation, I was able to provide the proper coaching and career development training that my employee needed to build confidence in this area. I’ve seen significant improvements in her decision quality over the past several months as a result.
Ann’s approach is different because it focuses on the specific team instead of repeating general concepts. The team members get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to team group dynamics. With this approach the team continues to improve efficiency long after the training is over.
I would definitely recommend Ann’s workshop for any team that is about to embark on a short or long term project. Her main focus is on creating specificity and clarity; clarity in expectations, roles, responsibilities, and communication. This level of clarity is critical to forming a high functioning team.
Richard Simpson, Sr. Engineering Manager, Research and Development, Medtronic
I’ve watched many non-profits struggle because they have the wrong people on their boards. Even conscientious organizations with lists of criteria used to carefully recruit qualifying board members usually get it wrong.
Yes, you need diversity. At the very least, that likely means you need to consider race, gender, and age. Depending on your focus, you may need diversity of experience and socio-economic representation as well. If you are a member organization, the diversity of your board must reflect your member base or desired member base. (more…)
When my parents died, their wills suggested an onerous process for dividing belongings among 5 siblings. But at least they provided a process!
They also indicated we were welcome to come up with a better process, if we so desired. My parents, who probably had something to do with my clarity(!), clearly knew the importance of having a process!
As executrix, I gladly proposed a better process. Being me, I’m pretty sure I would have done so regardless of whether or not it was my responsibility.
So I wrote up a simple process, explained it to all siblings, asked for opinions, and then got their signatures to confirm agreement before anyone began claiming anything.
The process worked smoothly. Success depended only on the thought invested by each sibling into their desires and needs. Everyone left with a combination of cherished and practical items.
There was one opportunity for dissension, however. (more…)
Most well run organizations are pretty good at creating what I call “Organizational Clarity.” They have strategic priorities and annual goals. They have job descriptions, policies, rules, and training programs. They have well-defined and documented production processes. They also have well-defined management systems that control things like performance reviews, budgeting, approval processes, and projects. All told, these constitute a yeoman’s effort to create:
- Clear purpose,
- Clear roles, and
- Clear process
– the three keys to productive, effective, committed employees. The resulting structure and controls are essential for allowing growing and shifting numbers of people to work together effectively.
But there’s a problem with this: It doesn’t help employees get through their average work day. (more…)