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Clarity…What Does It Really Mean In Business?

January 17, 2018

clarity in business

If you Google “clarity in business” you will tend to get links to content about clarity in communication – written and verbal.

And that’s probably what most people would expect when they first think about clarity. It’s all about getting the message across so the recipient can understand it better. In my eBook on clarity I ask 4 questions that go further than simply communication. That’s not to say communication doesn’t fit into my definition of clarity – it certainly does, but there’s a lot more to it.

In many businesses I have seen people confused by the use of technical terms that they don’t understand but won’t admit to. Equally I have witnessed conversations that are by no means technical but come across as vague and unclear. The recipient of the message is left uncertain about what they are meant to do following the conversation or who is responsible for sorting out an issue.

So yes, communication is really important but I’m saying just communicating more clearly isn’t enough.

As the owner of a business or a manager in it, you need to be more expansive with your efforts to seek clarity. What I mean is that there are several aspects of the business where everybody needs to be “on the same page”.  Let me give you an example that might help…

I worked with a manufacturing business that built bespoke equipment for its customers. Each customer order was unique, with different time scales and customer requirements. The Production Manager organised the workloads and issued pieces of work to the shop floor according to his plan. If work took longer to complete then he had to re-adjust his plan, etc. This scenario sounds fairly normal and I remember as a young Production Manager at the start of my career doing similar things. What I learnt myself and have since applied with clients, including this manufacturing business, is that it’s really valuable to ensure the shop floor know what work they have coming up and what the plan is to complete the work on time. Why? Because 1) they know what delivery dates they are working towards for the customer order and can raise potential problems earlier 2) they know who is doing what across the shop floor and are able to coordinate the use of resources and machines.

This example isn’t about making the messages more clear, it’s about giving new messages when there was previously just silence. There are other benefits from production teams sharing the production plan, but that’s for another blog.

Here’s the questions that my 4 disciplines check asks…

1. Does your business have a clear vision?

2. Do you and your staff use the same words and definitions for your everyday activity?

3. Can every employee answer these basic questions – Who are the customers? How do you deliver value to those customers?

4. Does everybody in the business know how well they and the business are doing?

Perhaps I should make these questions clearer?

  1. Do you know where the business is going and does everybody in the business know the same?
  2. Does everybody use the same meaning when they say or write things?
  3. Does everybody know how things get done in the business?
  4. Does everybody in the business know how well they and the business are doing?

Have a go at answering these questions and look at my eBook on Clarity for more detail and guidance. If you can say ‘Yes’ to each answer then you are well on your way to clarity and a better business.