Transformation challenges: The importance of clarity

Do you sometimes become impatient when faced with issues that don’t get resolved, projects that fail or managers who can’t seem to grasp what you want? Then this blog is for you.

Patience is the mother of … clarity

As an entrepreneur and a team leader, that happens to me regularly, and I see the same thing with the managers I support. This phenomenon is exacerbated during a transformation period. On closer examination, I find that such situations have one thing in common: lack of clarity.

The source of this lack of clarity

This lack of clarity may find its origin in various sources:

  • Issues, vision, goals and projects:
    • are not sufficiently clear for those who initiated them
    • have not been clearly communicated
  • Managers and employees don’t know:
    • exactly what is expected of them
    • how to proceed

Four steps to let in the light

To avoid such situations, which present serious obstacles to transformation, here is a four-step “clarity process” that I regularly remind my clients and myself of when impatience starts to grow:

1. EMERGENCE

Issues, visions, objectives and projects are rarely clearly defined in a single step. They generally emerge through an iterative, if not chaotic, process in which ideas, perspectives, convictions, personal agendas, fears and interests collide. The trick is to learn to recognize and respect this process of emergence.

With a structured approach and support for decision-makers, you can accelerate the process considerably.

2. FORM

Once the choices are made, make sure you formulate them in a way that everyone can understand. Choosing the right words and form ensures that your vision, objectives, strategies and projects are shared by the entire management team and all the key players. Here are some suggestions regarding words and form:
• Limit the number of words you use to define and present your vision or objectives.
• Limit your priorities: Remember that most people have difficulty remembering a list with more than three items.
• Don’t forget that a picture is worth a thousand words: Illustrate your words using a flowchart, a timeline, analogies, stories, tables and comparisons.

3. COMMUNICATION

Once you have defined the form of your messages, communicate it to your managers and employees. Formulate a “communications plan” by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who should we meet individually?
  • Which groups should be informed first?
  • Who should meet with them?
  • What are the goals of the meetings: to inform, consult, involve?
  • What should be on the agenda?

4. OWNERSHIP

If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that even the clearest, best presented message is not enough to spur people into action. It is important to repeat the message, over and over again. And then to remember that, even if it requires ongoing effort, adopting new behaviours takes support and follow-up.

It is about helping those involved identify the actions to be taken on a daily basis to achieve the organization’s vision, objectives and priorities. For example: If the company makes a client or digital shift, what does that mean for the people in finance or operations? What actions can they take on a daily basis to make these changes a reality?

I hope that these four steps have helped create more clarity.

A useful tool: Clarity scorecard

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = Not clear at all, 10 = Very clear), assess the extent to which your management team, managers and employees have a shared perception of the following key elements of the organization.

ELEMENTS OF CLARITYSTEERING
COMMITTEE
MANAGERSEMPLOYEES
OPPORTUNITIES, AND CHALLENGES FOR THE
ORGANIZATION
   
VISION   
PRIORITY GOALS   
PERFORMANCE   
SECTOR AND TEAM GOALS IN RELATION WITH THE PRIORITY GOALS   

For each element and group with a score of 6 of less, identify actions you can take to create more clarity.

Marcel Auclair,
Cofounder, Vice President and Strategic Advisor
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