Uncommon Clarity, Inc.
Newsletter, Winter 2006


Welcome to Clear Thoughts from Uncommon Clarity

In This Issue
  • Introductory Thoughts
  • Process Thoughts - Aaarrgghh!
  • People Thoughts - Top Down AND Bottom Up
  • Other Thoughts - New Articles Online
  • Parting Thoughts - Start at the Beginning, but...
  • Your Thoughts

  • Process Thoughts - Aaarrgghh!

    Lean, Six Sigma, ISO, Kaizen, Black Belts - Aaarrgghh!

    There are only three ways to reduce costs and improve quality, and you don't have to learn Japanese or get a black belt to get started:

    1. Eliminate unnecessary work
    2. Make the easy work easy
    3. Make the hard work easy
    Keep it simple:

    1. Eliminate unnecessary work

    • Start to finish, devote resources to activities for which customers are willing to pay.
    • Eliminate or minimize everything else.

    2. Make the easy work easy

    In general, easy work constitutes those activities that should require little or no judgment. Find the easy tasks and make them easier by eliminating unnecessary decisions:

    • Create routines, recipes, standard procedures, best practices - whatever you wish to call them - so that you eliminate the need to make the same decisions over and over again

    3. Make the hard work easy

    Since decision making is the characteristic that generally makes tasks hard, the key to making hard tasks easy and speedy is to support necessary decisions:

    • Develop understanding of objectives, alternatives and risks
    • Develop the skill needed to assess the situation and make decisions
    • Ensure access to supporting documentation, tools, resources, etc.
    • Grant responsibility and authority to make the decisions promptly.

      This, by the way, is empowerment.

    People Thoughts - Top Down AND Bottom Up

    Why are so many important skills taught only to managers and supervisors? Seems a relic of the old do-it-to-them style of management. Seems to neglect the importance of collaboration and team work. Seems to deny the value of two-way communication.

    For example, consider the importance of giving effective feedback. I don't think there is a person alive who couldn't benefit from knowing how to give feedback without making someone defensive and with the specificity that encourages change.

    And while we are at it, how about teaching people how to ask for feedback? Just imagine if everyone knew how to EXTRACT good feedback from all the frustrated, inarticulate, and overworked managers, supervisors, parents, siblings, friends, Romans, and countrymen ... "Oh, is THAT what you meant! I can do THAT!"

    Down load and share widely:

    Other Thoughts - New Articles Online

    The following articles are recent additions to our website:

    • Class Dismissed! Trained - Yes, But Changed?
    • So You Think Employees Hate Change

    Parting Thoughts - Start at the Beginning, but...

    I am a strong advocate of starting at the beginning. However, you must start at the end to find the beginning:

    • "What are you trying to accomplish?"

    Your Thoughts

    Please send comments or topics you would like addressed in future articles. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks!

    Best regards,

    Ann's Signature

    Ann Latham

    P.S. If you enjoyed this edition of Clear Thoughts, please forward it to others who may be interested.

    We encourage sharing Clear Thoughts in whole or in part with copyright and attribution included.

    2006 Uncommon Clarity, Inc.

    Introductory Thoughts
    Ann Latham

    It's a reflecting time of year - holiday lights, ice, and the state of your company and yourself. What have you accomplished? How have you grown? What has helped you succeed? What has held you back?

    Look beyond progress against plan. The simplicity of clear winners and losers is nice, but life isn't so simple. Plans can be bad and deviations can be good.

    It is too late to make the past a success. Look back only to give credit generously and to learn extensively. Look back only to improve the future.

    Uncommon Clarity, Inc. dramatically improves the systems that make:

    • People productive
    • Processes reliable
    • Customers happy

    Please contact us for help in achieving your business objectives.

    - Ann Latham

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