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

One of the key insights developed from my speaking and coaching work around the world is that as business owners, leaders or managers, our first job is clarity about 9 specific things and that clarity must begin with us.  The 9 clarities are…

  1. Clarity about who our target customers are and what life’s really like for them. What they value, what they fear and what they hope to become.  When buying, using, maintaining or disposing of what we sell, what are they really trying to do, what do they need to know, how do they want to feel and about how much do they expect to pay? 
  2. Clarity about the compelling customer value and experiences that we commit to always deliver. Compelling value and experiences that will give us a clear competitive advantage and make us the clear ‘wise choice’ for our target customers.  Value and experiences that will ‘grab’ our target customers, clearly differentiate us from our competitors, make us ‘famous’…and grow our bottom line.
  3. Clarity about how and where we will effectively brand, market, promote and sell our compelling value story in a crowded, cynical and competitive market.  There’s no point being the ‘best’ if we’re also the ‘best kept secret’.  Every market, including ours, is over-served and under-differentiated.  That’s reality. 
  4. Clarity about the extraordinary bottom line that we commit to generate. A bottom line that gives our investors a competitive rate of return…or better.  
  5. Clarity about the extraordinary future that we commit to create (our Vision).  How our business must be different and will be different in 3 to 5 years.  How big must we be?  How big do we want to be?  How ‘good’ must we be to be a market leader?  How good do we want to be?   Are we willing to do the work?
     
    How might our business model have to change?  What are the disruptive market-related, technology-related or societal changes coming down the road that could change how we do business, what our customers value…or even replace us?
     
    There’s huge confusion about what a business Vision is, what it isn’t and whether it even makes sense to have one. Businesses waste thousands of dollars to create vague, airy-fairy ‘aspirational’ Vision Statements that are worth nothing.  To be effective, our Vision Statement should be a clear, specific and measurable, 1-page statement of what we commit to become in 3 to 5 years. It will inform, focus and challenge everyone on our team from top to bottom.   
  1. Clarity about how we will get to that extraordinary future.  Specifically, each year, what decisions will we commit to make and what action will we commit to take (our annual Mission) to get to our 3 to 5-year Vision?

    NoteFor help in creating:

    1. a clear ‘Statement of Purpose’,
    2. a 3 to 5 year ‘Operational Vision’ on one piece of paper,
    3. an annual ‘Mission’…and,
    4. a specific, detailed step-by step ‘Commitment to Implementation’…
      …for your business, you can purchase our 34 page, step-by-step Vision Critical Guide as a downloadable PDF, for just $2400 at donaldcooper.com.   
  2. Clarity about how we will manage more effectively to improve clarity, commitment, urgency, accountability and profitability throughout every part of our business. Clarity about individual and departmental responsibilities.  Specifically, for every action that we commit to take, what will be done, by whom, by when, measured how and rewarded how?  What systems, processes, training and technology do we need to be innovative, cost-effective, customer-centric and profitable? 

  3. Clarity about the talent, team and organizational structure we need to make all of this happen.  The employment experience and career opportunities that we commit to deliver in order to attract, lead, engage and retain a dedicated top-performing team…and how we will measure performance and deal more effectively with non-performance.  The real battle in business today is the battle for ‘talent’.
     
    Then, that talented team must work within an organizational structure with clear responsibilities, authority and accountability.

  4. How we commit to behave along the way.  The values, ethics and standards that we commit to live by and the culture we commit to create.  

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 grinds to a halt and there’s no accountability.  Instead of alignment, we have confusion or even worse, anarchy. The animals are running the zoo…and it will end badly if it’s not fixed quickly.  I’m coaching a business in exactly this situation right now. 

So, have you created a vacuum of uncertainty at the top of your business or department?  Are you unclear or indecisive?  If so, use the list of ‘9 clarities’ above to start fixing what needs fixing.  Create clarity then determine what will be done, by whom, by when, measured how.  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.

About Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper, MBA, CSP, HoF: Donald speaks and coaches in over 40 industries throughout the world.  He delivers the ‘straight goods’ on how to sell more, manage smarter, grow your bottom line...and have a life!  To chat about ‘possibilities’ for your next business or Industry Association Conference, call me at 416-252-3703 in Toronto, or click here to connect to our ‘Enquiry Page’.  

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