Uncommon Clarity, Inc.
Newsletter, April 2009


Welcome to Clear Thoughts from Uncommon Clarity

In This Issue
  • Consulting Thoughts - Upcoming Event
  • Workload Thoughts - Too Much To Do?
  • Economy Thoughts - Recession Opportunities
  • Strategic Thoughts - Don't Emulate the Fed
  • Parting Thoughts - Ire and Self-esteem

  • Workload Thoughts - Too Much To Do?

    Lay-off survivors are often expected to span the gaps left by those now gone while also fulfilling their own responsibilities. As a result, I am frequently asked how they are to manage since the one thing that never changes is the number of hours in a day.

    There are only 2 possibilities:

    1. Figure out how to accomplish more
    2. Decide what won't be done

    How much you can accomplish is governed by 4 factors:

    • Talent - matching capabilities and disposition to the job
    • Skill - ability to execute well
    • Method - efficiency, effectiveness and number of steps
    • Environment - factors that encourage excellence (e.g., equipment, culture)
    Most organizations can improve their productivity but unless you already see opportunities for immediate improvement, finding and changing them can take additional time. Which leads us to the 2nd possibility: decide what won't be done.

    To do less, you must :

    • Abandon
    • Postpone
    • Outsource, or
    • Cut corners
    Intentional decisions are important here. If there is too much to do, something won't be done or will be done less carefully. Don't leave this to chance.

    If you are truly overloaded (the laid-off workers were not idle), get some input from above and below on where to apply these 4 options. Think about the most important objectives and work backwards; anything that is not critical to delivering value to customers now and in the future is fair game.

    If you just laid off workers, it may seem almost sacrilegious to get help from a consultant, but objective, focused and temporary assistance might be just what you need to quickly make the best decisions and changes before the situation deteriorates further.

    Economy Thoughts - Recession Opportunities

    We are in a sea change. Business as usual is no longer business as usual. We will emerge, but we will not return. Significant changes will be evident. It is both the change and the pause that provide significant opportunities to those who are alert and agile.

    Read about the 9 gifts of the recession ...

    Strategic Thoughts - Don't Emulate the Fed

    I speak frequently about the two main steps of developing strategy and encounter evidence daily of both businesses and non-profits whose great ideas fail because they neglect the second step.

    The first step of developing strategy involves creating and/or maintaining a winning business proposition:

    • What value can we provide?
    • To whom and in what quantities?
    • At what price?
    • At what cost must we be able to deliver to reap good profits?
    • Why us?
    • Where is our competitive edge and how will we maintain it?

    The list differs only slightly for non-profits:

    • What value can we provide?
    • To whom and in what quantities?
    • Who will benefit and support that value?
    • At what cost must we be able to deliver to be sustainable?
    • Why us?

    The second step, equally critical but clearly second, involves determining what the organization must become in order to deliver on its mission:

    • What must we be really good at?
    • What must we value?
    • What kind of talent must we acquire?
    • With whom must we partner?
    • What do we have to be as an organization to succeed?

    If you skip this step, you will find yourself pursuing new objectives with the same old organization.

    This is like thinking that the Fed that failed to provide regulatory oversight can provide regulatory reform simply by being granted the authority to provide even greater oversight.

    We can do better than that.

    Parting Thoughts - Ire and Self-esteem

    We send and receive email daily, generally assuming it arrives as intended. We chastise those slow to respond. We take it personally when they don't. It rarely occurs to us that the email was delayed, the recipient's computer down, or delivery simply failed.

    Before getting your ire up or self-esteem down, you might want to consider the possibility that the message never arrived. Give the benefit of the doubt.

    This advice goes way beyond email, of course. I mention email though because I've had two people tell me recently that messages to me failed. Please contact me if you have sent me a message that should have elicited a response but didn't or that generated a delivery failure notice. Thanks!

    Best regards,

    Ann's Signature

    Ann Latham

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    2009 Ann Latham. All rights reserved.

    Consulting Thoughts - Upcoming Event
    Ann Latham

    I will be the guest speaker for the Western New England College Law and Business Center for Advancing Entrepreneurship on April 7th at noon at the Scibelli Enterprise Center. The topic is "Understanding and Evaluating the Risks and the Liabilities of a Consulting Practice." This event is free and open to the public.

    Uncommon Clarity helps clients dramatically improve individual and organizational performance through consulting, coaching, keynotes and workshops. We can help you sharpen your focus and/or your methods so that you achieve your business objectives. Call today to discuss the possibilities.

    - Ann Latham


    Media Sightings:

    BusinessWeek quotes Ann Latham: What Would You Give Up To Save Your Job?

    Moving Beyond Layoffs - Indianapolis Star quotes Ann Latham

    Hartford Courant quotes Ann in Solid Interaction With Customers, Before, During And After

    32 Powerful Ways To Cut Costs In Business - Latham quoted

    Low Hanging Fruit - 5 Tips to Avoid Choking on the Pits

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