Competing On Clarity

ClarityThere’s always a great opportunity right before you to be extremely valuable. While most people struggle on what to do or think next, it is an opening for the leader who can get clear quickly. Clarity is hard to come by. We have a lot of information and options, but we have a scarcity of clarity and understanding what to do with the myriad choices presented to us.

The person that can slice through the complexity and provide a clear path is rare indeed. It’s an area I see as a pivotal place to compete in the new economy and here are some tips to improve your ability to get clear faster.

  • Force clarity. Whether you are sitting through cluttered Powerpoint presentations or in dialogue about an operations issue, ask probing questions. Ask for concrete definitions such as, “When you say ‘difficult’ what do you mean?” Keep forcing concreteness into the discussion. Then say, “This is what I heard,” and articulate what you understood. Don’t give up on a conversation until there is complete understanding. It is a discipline which is well worth the work to avoid mistakes, miscues and misunderstanding.
  • Be action-oriented. Ideas are great but making them happen is where the money is at. Think about the next steps. Itemize them. Share the list you have come up with after listening with your team. Then put deadlines to the actions. If you practice this one discipline of moving ideas to actions, you will find less wasteful dialogue and more results flowing from your output. It makes the ideas mean something.
  • Mindmap. I have been mindmapping for a decade and I have not found a more powerful way to getting clear.  Visually mapping out concepts and tying them together helps to focus conversations towards an interrelationship of ideas. In turn, you can refine and test the ideas you have before committing fully. Furthermore, the problems can quickly be identified and dealt with early.

I would also add that being well read is important for having perspective and seeing multiple types of problems. Having a storage of problems is important for overlaying context and creating meaning of new concepts and ideas.

How can this help you?

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