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Seeking clarity

Clarity is the quality or state of being clear

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is well known for hiring individuals that bring "Clarity and Energy" to the company. He asks, which candidate possesses clarity in the form of thought, communication, intent and story.

Satya Nadella

Clarity is a highly valuable trait and one of the hardest traits to cultivate in any working environment. In this ever-changing world, chaos ensues and has been glorified — to the extent where people won’t believe that work is being done in the absence of it.

The lack of clarity leads to a viscous cycle of obscurity that breeds impostor syndrome, poor team communication, company misalignment and so on. This can cripple your personal development, the quality of output and affect your working culture.

viscous cycle

Despite this viscous cycle, it continues to perpetually exist in working environments. These are some reasons it continues to exist;

Poor time management. Procrastination, over committing to work and poor planning can lead to individuals constantly running out of time. In such instances, clarity is not seen as very important. Poor time management is an example of flawed decision making and a lack of discipline.

No ownership/accountability of work When individuals feel as though their work is unimportant they don’t act on it with a strong sense of ownership and accountability. This can result into individuals focusing on marking it done versus making sure it is clear and good work.

Poor communication skills Communication is a part of clarity. Unclear messages can exist if the medium (communication channels) & structures are not setup and adhered to.

These factors in small doses can aggregate into unclear messaging and this breeds a culture that doesn’t value clarity in an organisation. The key question becomes, how can I as an individual breed a culture of clarity within my organisation?

I believe creating a culture of clarity in an organisation can be achieved by paying attention to three main things;

  • Clarity within yourself
  • Clarity within your team
  • Clarity within your company

Zones of Clarity

Clarity within yourself

This is the foundation of clarity. To be clear in your work requires you to have a firm understanding of the problem you are solving for or subject matter. Elon Musk talks about thinking from first principles when learning in this interview. This is the same methodology that can be applied here, If you are not clear within yourself, then everything that you build on top of this will crumble.

Your ability to communicate to your team, your clients and other stakeholders is greatly diminished if you are not clear about what needs to be done. You don’t need to have the answers, but at a bare minimum you need to adequately understand the problem at hand better than anyone.

Some tips for achieving clarity within yourself;

  • Become a better writer. Writing clearly is a keystone virtue to articulating your message and communicating with your team.
  • Practice mindfulness. I’m not a monk but meditation, walking or hiking can help.
  • Take responsibility for your work. Benchmark your work and understand what is missing. Don’t make excuses.
  • Consider all inputs you take in. Are they useful, are they taking you somewhere? Being wrong is okay, make sure you learn from it.
  • Knowing what the right question to ask is. Figuring this out is half the journey.

    If you can’t be clear with yourself, you cant be clear with others. Demand clarity from yourself and others always.

    Clarity within your team

When you are clear about what the problem case or subject is, you can better articulate this to your team to get buy-in into your proposed approach, strategy, solution etc. Clearly defined scopes of work and expectations from you to your team simplify delegation & alignment, which leads to less back and forth, less stress and better results. Communicating to your team is a good test to know if you have clarity within yourself. If you don’t, spend more time with the problem and get clearer within yourself first.

When you believe your own message, they can too.

Clarity within your organisation

This is where the value of clarity from within really shines. If you are clear and can clearly communicate with 3-5 people consistently, then you can influence your organisation. The time spent in the first 2 zones of clarity compounds creating a culture of great quality work and high-performers.

Impact of clarity

Clarity of work compounds the more people it impacts.

Once you have established a clear message, adoption is frictionless and this lays the blueprint for future work going forward. Everyone in the organisation is on notice to take the time to get clear from within, with their team mates and as a result with the rest of the organisation.

Collectively the Clarity zones philosophy can enable you answer the following questions;

  • How can I be clear? — Spend time understanding the problem
  • How do I know that I am being clear? — Its easy to articulate and adopt in a team
  • How can I become clearer? — Refine your message
  • When do I know that there is clarity in my organisation? — Strategic messaging improves, quality of output rises and breeds a high performing organisation.

Being clear is a huge differentiator and advantage for one to have. Seek clarity today!

© 2022 — Steven Sajja. All rights reserved.