Uncommon Clarity, Inc.
Newsletter, Summer 2005

Welcome to Clear Thoughts from Uncommon Clarity

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In This Issue
  • Introductory Thoughts
  • Quick Thoughts - Clarify the Objectives
  • Book Thoughts - First, Break All The Rules
  • Parting Thoughts - What is Success?
  • Your Thoughts

  • Quick Thoughts - Clarify the Objectives

    Why is it so much easier to talk about solutions than objectives? I wish I knew the answer, though I suspect it has something to do with inventing and creating being more fun than analyzing and thinking in a disciplined fashion. All I know for sure is that you can see evidence of it everywhere.

    I recently attended an annual meeting of an organization where the group argued about the contents and format of an internet survey. As a newcomer, I just listened until I could stand it no longer and then I asked what they were hoping to achieve with the survey and how they had been using the data from the paper survey up until that point. Suddenly, it was really quiet. Finally someone said that they just thought it would be good information to have and they went back to their argument.

    I'm sure you can think of lots of similar examples from your own experiences:

    • People debating the approach of a marketing brochure without agreeing first on the target audience
    • Meetings wandering according to individual agendas because the organizer has not established a purpose nor have the participants asked for one
    • People arguing about what should go on a website without first discussing why they need one and what they hope to achieve by creating one

    How can anyone make good decisions without starting with a clear purpose?

    They can't, of course, though sometimes they get lucky. Here is a line that will save you time and money over and over again:

    *** "What are we trying to accomplish?" ***

    Book Thoughts - First, Break All The Rules

    First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman is an interesting management book. The subtitle, "What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently", sums up the content well. The authors spell out many things that good managers already know but might not know they know. Whether these are lessons you have preached for years, tidbits that ring true the minute you read them, or completely new ideas to you, the basic lessons provided are intriguing and will likely get you thinking and managing a little differently.

    The most valuable aspect of this book is the way it distinguishes among knowledge, skills, and talent. Not only are the distinctions important, and the foundation for their advice on hiring and managing, but talent is defined from an interesting perspective:

    • Rather than thinking of talent as that which makes someone extraordinary or more valuable than another, think of talent as that which makes each person unique and therefore well-suited for some jobs and not others.
    • Think of talent as a person's unique way of seeing the world, communicating with the world, and reacting to the world.
    • Think of talent as filters and mental habits.
    • Think of your talents as:
      - the things you always do WELL,
      - the things you ALWAYS DO,
      - the things you CAN'T NOT do.
    With this definition, the distinctions among knowledge, skills, and talents become clearer: what one knows, what one can do, and what one is inclined to do.

    The main short-coming of the book is that the authors pose the insights of the great managers as contradictions to conventional wisdom. You must wade through often tedious explanations of that conventional wisdom before you get to read the secrets of the great managers.

    So what are some of these secrets?

    • Select people carefully - select for talents that match the job requirements (and not for skills or knowledge that are more easily rectified)
    • Help each employee become more of what they are rather than trying to change them into something they aren't
    • Set expectations by defining desired outcomes
    • Know what the customer needs, know what the company needs, and know what the employee needs
    • Don't treat employees the same unless they are the same, which they are not
    • Invest in your best, watch your best for clues to excellence and use your best to set goals
    • Deal with performance problems starting with the cause:
      - missing skill or knowledge
      - missing motivational trigger
      - mismatch of job requirements with employee talents, a situation which may or may not require recasting

    The book concludes with good, specific advice, including lists of questions, for hiring and performance management.

    For specific examples and further explanation, take a look at the book, which is available in the Central/Western Massachusetts Library Catalog.

    Parting Thoughts - What is Success?

    To laugh often and much;
    To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
    To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
    To appreciate beauty;
    To find the best in others;
    To leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
    To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
    This is to have succeeded.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Your Thoughts

    We hope you found this newsletter interesting and valuable. Please send us your thoughts and comments. We will use your feedback to make improvements. Thanks!

    Ann Latham

    Introductory Thoughts
    Ann Latham

    We are excited to be helping clients in the beautiful Pioneer Valley after many years in the Minneapolis- St. Paul metro area! Our goal is to help you achieve your business objectives. We specialize in solving problems and translating operational complexity into manageable action and results. Please contact us to discuss your business challenges and problems.

    - Ann Latham

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