A Reason You Lack Clarity

pick two quality cost delivery
If you can pick and commit, you release clarity. That should never be underestimated. From Jed Schmidt’s Flickr photostream

One thing I can tell that is in scarce supply is clarity. Large organizations spend an immense amount of time and money trying to align people to a common vision. Likewise, I have seen so many well-meaning individuals and teams unable to articulate what they should do.

I think the lack of clarity has always existed in business. It’s a special talent to cut through complexity and identify what should happen and rally people and resources towards it.

Much of my work is to help provide clarity. I am not sure people come to me asking to get clarity. Typically, they come with a problem. But the root issue is that they lack clarity on what is possible and what they can and should do.

One of the big reasons there is a lack of clarity comes down to trade-offs. We live in a finite world. You can’t win everyone. You can’t always have the best and the cheapest. You don’t have endless time to ship something.

So you have to pick. The dilemma reminds me of how little kids behave. I love watching a little two year old trying to make a choice. My own kids used to start crying when they had to pick between giving up a toy for another one. They did not like to pick between two toys. They wanted to have both and they would melt down if they had to choose.

That tension and lack of execution or results happens in our adult lives as well when we don’t pick. Corporate decisions come down to quality, cost and delivery. The common saying is to “Pick two.” You can’t have all three.

Most decisions work this way. If you can get concrete and pick between the trade-offs, what is important to you, then you are able to enjoy the fruits of executing without inhibition. The goal pulls you. You get things out the door because you are unstuck. You made a decision and live with the trade-offs.

So ask yourself if you feel stuck, “What is most important and what can I live without?” Force yourself to decide. Once that becomes clear, you will have liberated yourself on projects that get muddled by ambiguity. These days we need all the precision and clarity we can get.