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June 2011
Ann Latham
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Welcome to the Clear Thoughts™ newsletter. I hope you find it uncommonly clear and helpful!  
Today's Clear Thoughts
Worst Mistake You Can Make When Overloaded
Save Money - Skip the Training!
Killing a Killer Bad Habit
Published Clarity - New York Times
Clearly Speaking
Ann's Parting Thoughts - How to Hire the Best
Worst Mistake You Can Make When Overloaded

When there is too much to do, there are only six possibilities. The good news is that five of them are effective. The bad news is that most people choose the sixth.

Here are the five effective ways of dealing with overload:
  1. Accomplish more
  2. Delegate/outsource
  3. Cut corners
  4. Postpone
  5. Abandon
What is #6?

The sixth choice, the only ineffective option, is not deciding. Not consciously selecting one of the five. Every one of the five is a valid option that can be managed for good results. But too often, people choose #6. And by not making the tough decision, they are leaving this decision to chance. The wrong things fall through the cracks. The wrong corners are cut. Whim, luck, and personal favorites take the helm. The easy triumph over the important, the tactical over the strategic, and the urgent over the long term.                

So Stop It!

Stop choosing #6. It's time to start making conscious decisions to go with one of the other five.

Need some help setting priorities? Want to establish new habits in your organization? Call 800-527-0087 Today! Let's talk!


Save Money - Skip the Training! 

My head swiveled at the sound of my name. "That woman Ann was just FABULOUS!" I was walking down the hallway after presenting "Sometimes a Great Project - 8 Uncommon Secrets for Repeatable Excellence." 

I am accustomed to enthusiastic audiences but that outburst was pretty special. So what caused it?

One of the things I know this group really appreciated was that I did not tell them to do more of the same - a little better, a little longer, a little faster, and a little harder. Instead, I gave them eight ways of looking at things differently so they could join the mere 5% who actually finish projects on time and on budget. 

Since that day, I've talked to several attendees and the response is universal. They loved the ideas but have been too buried to figure out how to apply them. This is extremely common. Few companies excel at transforming ideas into improved practice and actual results. 

When Hitachi hired me to improve their design processes, I didn't amaze them with new ideas and leave. Instead, I:
  • Changed their perspectives
  • Made them see what they weren't seeing
  • Presented new approaches
  • Helped them identify the ideas that would add the most value within their environment, and then, 
  • Integrated those ideas into their daily practices so that they actually realized the benefits they were seeking. 

After some initial instruction and group facilitation, I also coached them for a period of time until they had established new, workable habits. 


If done well, this takes surprisingly little time. And it isn't about adding work; it's about changing the way you work. Arguments that everyone is too busy to improve are ridiculous. The sooner you begin, the more time you will have. 


But if you aren't ready to take this approach, you might as well save your money and skip the training!


(For more information, read my award winning article, "Why Training Fails.")  


Want to transform ideas into efficient practice? Call now: 800-527-0087.

Killing a Killer Bad Habit                  

At the beginning of a recent strategic planning project, I used a survey to get the lay of the land, generate ideas, and stimulate the thinking of those who would be involved in the process. I asked several questions about cause and needs. For example: What are the barriers to customer success? What customer needs are not being met?

Many of the respondents leaped over cause and need, and went straight to solutions.
  • What are the barriers to customer success?
    We need to provide a more complete set of offerings such as ...
  • What customer needs are not being met?
    We should change our approach to ...
This is not at all uncommon. I am certain that these people have no idea that they did not answer my questions.

But this is a bad habit because you can't satisfy your customers if you don't take the time to understand their needs and the barriers they face. If your first thought involves your capabilities, you will miss the mark.

Organizations waste ridiculous quantities of money and time developing products and enhancements that aren't valued by customers because they skip over cause and need, and jump right to solutions.

How do you break this habit when you don't even know you are doing it? First of all, you probably aren't the only one, so work together following these three steps:
  1. Create awareness of the issue and its impact
  2. Give each other permission and the mandate to provide instant feedback
  3. Review successes regularly and remind all to continue #1 and #2 until new habits are established. 
It's tough to change without outside input but this is a killer bad habit that must be killed.

We shift perspectives regularly by creating clarity. Call 800-527-0087 today and find out how we can help you.

Published Clarity

Read my comments in the The New York Times on excessive workloads.

"The Secrets to Getting Buy-in" by Ann was published in Corp! magazine in May.

AT&T Advertising Solutions quotes Ann in "The Keys to Product/Service Positioning"

NFIB quotes Ann in "5 Ways to Increase Family Harmony at Work."


Clearly Speaking

Uncommon Sanity - Dissolving Stress with Clarity - video now posted on my website.

Transforming Ideas Into Reality, September 13th, UMass Family Business Center

SOAR Through Decisions with Clarity, October 13th, for the Purchasing Management Association Western New England

Might Your Organization Benefit from an Uncommonly Clear Keynote or Workshop?


Parting Thoughts - How to Hire the Best

Want to hire the best? Stop looking for "the best"!


There is no giant totem pole of qualities that makes one person better than another. People who excel in one position are going to flounder in another if it doesn't match their talents, interests, and skills.

Best regards,

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Ann Latham

* Creating the Clarity that Speeds and Improves Results *

2011 Ann Latham. All rights reserved.