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March 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
Uncommon Clarity in Tracking Progress
Are You Guilty of Starting at the Beginning?
What If You Had Another Month Every Year?
Ann's Parting Thoughts
Uncommon Clarity in Tracking Progress


Whether you are managing a corporate giant or a small business, you need to track progress. For some, that means tracking key results, for others, it means tracking endless detail. Here are 7 tips for maximizing results and minimizing effort.

  1. Don't just track results, track assumptions. If your sales are increasing exactly as desired, but you are growing because existing customers are buying more and not because you are successfully penetrating a new market as planned, you have a problem. Your luck is masking failed insights, decisions, efforts, and investments. Be clear about underlying assumptions and ask, "Are our assumptions still valid?"
  2. Define milestones that reflect major decisions and vital learning, not just the completion of tasks, especially fairly predictable tasks. Keep asking, "What don't we know? What obstacles must we overcome?" 
  3. Don't let a growing list of checked off milestones give you false confidence. It's the ones that aren't checked off that can sink your ship. Keep asking, "What could go wrong?" 
  4. Every pursuit encompasses uncertainty and risk. As you learn, you must adapt. Keep asking, "What have we learned and what is its significance?"
  5. Detailed plans give the illusion of control. Don't be fooled, especially where the detail is no more than a stab in the dark. Keep asking, "How do we know we are on track?"
  6. Even mundane, predictable efforts can go astray because nothing happens the same way twice. Keep asking, "What has changed? What is different this time? What are we taking for granted?" 
  7. Review progress as often as you can afford to be behind. If you can afford to lose a month, check in once a month. If you can't afford to lose a day, check in daily. "Have we made a day of progress? If not, why not? What must we do differently?"
Unsure how to implement any of these suggestions to maximize your potential and that of your employees? We can help. Contact us at today.

Are You Guilty of Starting at the Beginning?                     

When asking for help, do you start by explaining what you are trying to accomplish? Or do you explain everything you've tried so far, describe every obstacle, provide every hypothesis, and relate all the reactions and suggestions you've received? To save time for all, get to the point fast. Start with the end in mind.

When making a decision, do you start with the objectives, priorities, and limitations - the criteria that will govern the decision? Or do you go straight to debating the options? To save time for all, agree on the destination before debating the route. Start with the end in mind.

When running a meeting, do you start by defining the endpoint so everyone knows the destination? Or do you launch the first topic and let the talkers take it away? To save time for all, be clear about how you will know when you are finished. Start with the end in mind.

When solving a problem, do you start by uncovering the cause so that cause can be eliminated? Or do you leap to solutions that sound like good ideas but might have nothing to do with the cause of the problem? To save time, find the exact cause of the problem so you can eliminate it. Start with the end in mind.

Are you and your employees wasting time by starting without the end in mind? Teach everyone to stop and ask, "What are we trying to accomplish?" and you will save time for all involved.

Not sure how to start with the end? Interested in making "What are we trying to accomplish?" a company habit?" Call 800-527-0087 today and find out how we can help.

 What If You Had Another Month Every Year?

If you saved an hour a day, that's 365 hours per year.

365 hours / 12 productive hours in a day = 30 days.

If you save an hour a day, you gain 30 days each year. That's an entire month. Imagine what you could do with another month in the year. Another month to play, spend with family, or complete significant projects.

What are you waiting for? Where is that hour that you could dispense with each day? Is it spent:
  • Surfing the web?
  • Checking email or Facebook?
  • Waiting for others?
  • Doing tasks you could/should delegate or outsource? 
  • Doing things that don't need doing?
  • Letting tasks expand to fill available time?
  • Making things perfect that need not be perfect?
  • Being indecisive?
  • Making decisions over and over again?
  • Arguing ineffectively?
  • Meeting without a clear finish line in mind?

Track your time. Find that hour. Free up a month a year for more important things!


This is the sixth in our series of Uncommon Productivity Boosters that help you take control of your time, feel great about each week, and watch those weeks add up to impressive results. Enjoy the previous tips on our website:

Need help identifying your "extra" hours? Give us a call at 800-527-0087. Let us help you gain a month  year. 

Ann's Parting Thoughts - Hearing Better

Listen with respect or you won't really hear anything. 

Best regards,

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Ann Latham

* Creating the Clarity that Speeds and Improves Results *

2011 Ann Latham. All rights reserved.