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October 2010
Ann Latham
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Welcome to the Clear Thoughts™ newsletter from Uncommon Clarity! I hope you find at least one little gem of value. For more newsletters, articles, products, videos, tools, and tips, visit our website.

Today's Clear Thoughts
Strategic Thoughts - The Good News First
People Thoughts - The Mouse that Roared
Productivity Thoughts - Slip Sliding Away
Parting Thoughts - Fool Proof to Death
The Good News First

The good news? Many companies have finally decided that they can't just wait for the recovery to come to them. After all, it might not!

The bad news? Many are latching onto misguided methods for plotting their course. If you've been around, as I have, you've probably witnessed these scenarios?
  1. Brainstorm and Vote

    The exact process varies but it boils down to creating a big list of everyone's ideas and picking the favorites. Strategic planning should not be a popularity contest. Nor should your choices be limited to a random assortment of ideas, many old, many in the news, and most constrained by current assumptions and beliefs about the organization,  the competition, and the market.

  2. SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

    While brainstorming in four boxes is an improvement over one, SWOT still has all the limitations of brainstorm-based thinking. It provides too little opportunity to shift thinking and break current perceptions. You don't want to consider threats and opportunities only as they relate to your current state. Furthermore, you don't want to give internal affairs, especially weaknesses, such prominence. Strengths are developed and weaknesses can be overcome. What counts is identifying the right opportunity and understanding what it means to your market, business model, competition, and operations.

  3. Quick, While It's Cheap!

    When my brother was little, my grandmother bought him a then-clever and incredibly cheap T-shirt. "Here Comes Norm" adorned the front, and, you guessed it, "There Goes Norm" graced the back. The only problem was, my brother's name is Scott. The way some companies are aquiring other companies and assets these days reminds me of this story. Strategy must come first. Don't let the tail wag the dog.

Related articles: 

Want some help shifting your perspective or establishing a framework for making strategic decisions, give us a call today at 800-527-0087.

The Mouse that Roared

OK, she didn't exactly roar. However, the quiet helper who always slipped timidly into my house, vacuum cleaner in hand, behind her boss is no longer timid, quiet, or "not quite ready for prime time." After her boss was sidelined by a serious car accident, "the mouse" walked in with confidence, assured me she would continue to serve me and that the sister in tow had experience, gave me her phone number, actively sought opportunities to go above and beyond, and engaged in relationship-building conversation, though not too much!

The energy, pride, and competence unleashed are not just heart-warming. This mouse is now a much more valuable employee.

But it shouldn't take a disaster to give employees a chance to roar.

You undoubtedly have employees who are plodding through the day, day after day, with little opportunity, inclination, or incentive to become bigger contributors. Yet, given a chance, a push, a vote of confidence, many are capable of far more. And if they grow, you, their co-workers, and the company all win.

So how do you help employees grow? How do you see if they can roar?

You give them a chance.

You talk to them about priorities and objectives and give them new responsibilities. You provide feedback and support, and a little time to grow into the new role. Yes, there are some risks, but one mouse that roars is worth far more than two tip-toeing behind the boss.

Not sure where to start? Call us today at 800-527-0087.
Does "Slip Sliding Away" Describe Your Week?

Feel like your weeks are slip-sliding away? Not satisfied with what you accomplish each week? The secret to a successful week is two-fold:
  1. Identify what would constitute a successful week
  2. Make it happen

If you have too many priorities, you have no priorities. You must identify the top few that will make a difference and leave you feeling satisfied with your week.

On top of that, you must protect the time you need to spend on those critical few to make measurable progress. You can't let distractions and interruptions suck up valuable time.

Today I offer the first in a series of specific techniques to help you take control of your time, feel great about each week, and watch those weeks add up to impressive results. I suspect you will find that you already use some of the techniques, can't make some work for you, but are propelled toward peak productivity by others.

Feel free to send my a note letting me know which ones work for you: Without further ado, and in no particular order, here is:

Ann Latham's Tips for Peak Productivity - #1: Create a Friday List

Watch future newsletters and our website for more tips.

Is one tip at a time too slow for you? Would you like help accomplishing more and reducing stress? We can help. Call 800-527-0087.
Fool Proof to Death
Not a one way! 
After driving Irish roads for three weeks, American roads seem ridiculously wide. Most of our two lane roads would be four lanes in Ireland. On top of that, we have shoulders! Does this make our roads safer?

For an amusing, illustrated journey into unintended consequences, click here!

Best regards,

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Ann Latham

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