Uncommon Clarity, Inc.
Newsletter, September 2007


Welcome to Clear Thoughts from Uncommon Clarity

In This Issue
  • Reflective Thoughts - Boundary Waters Lesson
  • Strategic Thoughts - Quality is NOT a Strategy
  • Customer Thoughts - Is Top Service a Top Priority?
  • Book Thoughts - Made to Stick
  • Parting Thoughts - Upcoming Events

  • Strategic Thoughts - Quality is NOT a Strategy

    Quality is not a strategy. Books, strategic planning websites, and executives may all provide numerous examples to the contrary, but quality is simply not a strategy. Nor is process improvement. Nor productivity gains. Nor employee development. Nor improved marketing. Even growth is rarely a strategy.

    If these are typical outcomes of your strategy formulation process, your operational focus is overpowering your strategic thinking. You can't expect significant gains by mostly doing the same old things a little better.

    Protect your strategy and strengthen your ability to execute by avoiding confusion between strategic decisions - the stakes in the sand - and the on-going operational decisions that will continuously evolve your ability to deliver well and satisfy your customers.

    For help in developing a strong strategy with great possibilities for growth and profitability, call us at 413- 527-3737.

    Customer Thoughts - Is Top Service a Top Priority?

    Maybe you have no competition and never will. In that case, skip this article.

    But if there is any other place your customers can turn to satisfy their wants and needs, you had best focus on their experience. The more average your products, the more important the customer experience.

    Just what is that experience?

    • How easy are you to find?
    • What happens when they call you? Do they get an answering machine or a knowledgeable individual? If they get an answering machine, how many hoops do you make them jump through? How many times would you like to listen to your message and menu options?
    • How quickly do they get good answers to questions about your products?
    • How quickly do they get responses to calls and email messages?
    • Are those responses complete or do they have to go around and around?
    • Do you help them determine whether your product will really solve their problem?
    • Do you help them anticipate problems or provide that perfect little bit of expertise that will make things go smoothly for them?
    • Are they clear about what they can expect at each step of the way when doing business with you?
    • If your product doesn't measure up in some way, how are things resolved, by whom, and how quickly?
    • Do you make it easy for them to buy from you again, whether through easy reorders or reminders or occasional contact?

    Book Thoughts - Made to Stick

    Remember the story that changed Halloween? The one about the razor blades in apples dished out to trick or treaters? In Made to Stick - Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, brothers Chip and Dan Heath reveal the characteristics that etch such stories indelibly in our memories. Never mind that this story never happened.

    This fascinating, fun and easy to read book models its message about memorable messages as it traces and demonstrates those essential characteristics using the acronym SUCCES:

    • Simple - it takes 1 nanosecond to comprehend the evil of the razor blades
    • Unexpected - razor blades belong nowhere near apples
    • Concrete - evokes an instant, visceral reaction as we imagine costumed children biting into those big, juicy apples
    • Credible - spread from neighbor to neighbor, we all believe someone we know read it in the newspaper
    • Emotional - pain, especially pain inflicted on small, helpless, adorable children, takes the cake for generating emotion
    • Stories - this one's been told and retold, like any good story

    Whether you are interested in marketing, advertising, compelling strategies, writing, teaching, public speaking, communicating, changing the world, or simply telling stories, the explanations, examples and exercises in this book will help you clarify critical concepts and pulverize prosaic prose.

    Parting Thoughts - Upcoming Events

    Leave the Competition in the Dust! and Better, Faster, Cheaper are courses open to all that I will be teaching at Westfield State College this fall. Contact me or check the WSC catalogue or website for more information.

    I will present Decisions! Simple Fork or Source of Torque? to the Women's Partnership of the ACCGS on September 19th. We will examine the three components of any decision and see that we usually skip two of them. In addition, we will learn specific techniques to improve decisions, conquer indecision, and squash those decisions that demand you make them over and over again.

    Best regards,

    Ann Latham

    Ann Latham

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

    2007 Ann Latham. All rights reserved.

    We encourage sharing of Clear Thoughts in whole or in part with attribution, copyright and website address, www.uncommonclarity.com, included.

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    Reflective Thoughts - Boundary Waters Lesson
    Ann Latham

    With no Internet, cell phones, or email, I expected some kind of tectonic shift. It didn't happen. Eight days of paddling and portaging in the wilderness on the Minnesota-Canadian border with my family felt as natural as it did when I was a pre-Internet teen. Just peaceful, beautiful and normal.

    Wait! There was a revelation! To keep our packs manageable, we planned the food down to the ounce. We paced ourselves carefully and finished the last morsel at the last meal. Every one of us could have eaten double, but we still felt strong, energetic and happy.

    So why is it that we eat so much when relatively idle at home?

    Habit. Our routines pave the way to habits good and bad. The wilderness provided a new routine without pavement.

    Uncommon Clarity helps organizations improve the strategies and systems that make people productive, processes reliable, and customers happy.

    Please contact us for help in achieving your business objectives.

    - Ann Latham


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