(Time to read this insightful Blog article is about 2 minutes)

One of the key insights from my speaking and Biz Coaching work is that as business owners, leaders or managers, our first job is to create clarity about 9 specific things. 

I apologize for there being so many things to be clear about.  It would be nice if there were just 3, but there aren’t.  There are 9.  Business is complicated.  They’re listed below:

  1. Who our target customers are and what life’s really like for them.
  2. The compelling customer value and experience that we commit to deliver. Value and experiences that will ‘grab’ our target customers, clearly differentiate us from our competitors, make us ‘famous’…and grow our bottom line.
  3. How we’ll communicate our compelling value story in a crowded and cynical market. There’s no point being the best if we’re also the best kept secret.
  4. What we commit to become to be a profitable and responsible market leader in 3 to 5 years (our Vision). How must our business be different from what and who we are today?  How big must we be?  How must our business model change?
  5. The specific decisions and actions that we commit to take each year to get us to our 3 to 5-year Vision (this will be our annual Mission).
  6. The extraordinary bottom line that we commit to generate. Without a healthy ROI, there is no business.
  7. The talent, team and organizational structure we need to make our Vision happen …and how we, ourselves, must grow as leaders and managers.
  8. The technology, systems, processes, training, equipment and facilities we need to be innovative, cost-effective, customer-centric and profitable…and to make our Vision happen effectively.
  9. How we commit to behave along the way (our values, ethics, culture and standards). One of the most important roles of our leaders is to guard the integrity of the business.

 Most businesses lack this kind of clarity…and it’s killing them. Realistically, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being ‘very clear’, rate your personal clarity on each item above.  Then, have your managers and supervisors, individually, do the same thing.  Study the results.  Are you all aligned, or are there widely divergent opinions?  What does this tell you about what needs better clarification?  

Clarity always starts at the top and if we at the top of the organization are not clear about these 9 things, who else could possibly be?  The answer is…‘nobody’.  And without clarity, there can be no commitment or urgency and without commitment and urgency, there’s no accountability.  

So, when we fail to create and communicate this level of clarity, we create a vacuum of uncertainty at the top of our business or department.  And, because the universe hates a vacuum (I learned that in Grade 10 physics), something must rush in to fill the ‘emptiness’ that we’ve created. 

What generally fills that vacuum are the fragmented and disparate goals, assumptions, ambitions, egos and power grabs of the other people in the organization as they attempt to deal with or take advantage of the uncertainty that we’ve created.  The organization then becomes fragmented, is without focus or direction, but is full of turf wars and drama. Productivity slows, then grinds to a halt and there’s no accountability.  Instead of alignment, we have anarchy. The animals are running the zoo…and it will end badly if it’s not fixed quickly.  Your best talent will leave and your mediocre people will stay and take ‘I don’t give a dam pills’.  I’m coaching three businesses in exactly this situation right now…and, unfortunately, one of them is not rescuable. 

So, has a lack of clarity created a vacuum of uncertainty at the top of your business or department?  Are you, as a leader or manager, unclear or indecisive in any way?  If so, sit down with your team and use the list of ‘9 clarities’ above to start fixing the problem.  When you’ve achieved and documented ‘clarity’ in each of the 9 key areas, determine exactly what needs to be created, fixed or eliminated to move your business or department down this clear new path.  This will take some time, but it’s the most important ‘management thing’ you’ll do this year. Remember, your first job is to create ‘clarity’. 

Then, determine what specific actions will be taken, by whom, by when, at what expense and measured how to implement your new-found clarity.  Finally, follow up, reward performance and deal with non-performance.  Lack of clarity and failure to deal with non-performance are two of the biggest problems in business today.

For more info about booking Donald to deliver his bottom-line management and marketing insights at your next Management or Association Conference or Corporate Event…or to discus our Business Coaching program, contact us at donald@donaldcooper.com or by phone at 1-416-252-3703 in Toronto, Canada.

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