Are you suffering from clarity blindness?
Ann Latham: “You need a well-defined process to get to a good decision… and to avoid bad decisions, really slow decision making and second guessing decisions.”
“When writing my book outline I was constantly re-framing and re-adjusting the process, which is an important thing to do for anything that’s not a standard repeatable process”Ann Latham, http://www.uncommonclarity.com
Find out why Ann rides a unicycle… while carrying a canoe – and why it’s important to you
Clarity questions: Where am I now? What have I accomplished? What do I need to do next?
“The Power of Clarity does for knowledge workers, what lean thinking and the Toyota way have done for the factory floor.”Ann Latham, http://www.uncommonclarity.com
Ann Latham has worked with clients in over 40 industries and ranging from for-profit organizations, such as Boeing, Medtronic, and Hitachi, to nonprofit organisations as diverse as Public Television and Smith College. Why does she work with such a wide range of clients? Because they all need greater clarity to get better results faster and with more confidence and commitment.
So today, I’m so looking forward to introducing you to the queen of clarity Ann Latham, who has worked with clients in over 40 Industries, from for profit organisations such as Boeing, Medtronic and Hitachi, to nonprofit organisations as diverse as public television and Smith College. Now, why does she work with such a wide range of clients? It’s because they all need greater clarity, why to get better results faster, and with more confidence and commitment. Now I’ve known Ann for I don’t know, it’s about four or five years, and we’ve worked on a couple of projects together. But it was only around a year ago that I learned that Ann can ride a unicycle while you got to wait for this bit, carrying a canoe. So welcome, man, and thanks for sharing your confessions today. But first of all, I mean, just tell me you got to tell us about the unicycle and canoe What? What is all that about?
ANN: Okay, cool. Hi, it’s good to be here. Nice to see you. I started riding a canoe. I mean, riding a unicycle back when I was probably a young teen because I had lots of brothers and I needed to do something they couldn’t do. And unicycle was the answer. And I brought it to school, and I would ride it to school carrying my cello to the great annoyance of the orchestra director, because she was sure I would smash the cello. But in general, I could do a lot of different things on it. And one day I decided to carry the canoe. And it’s really pretty cool to do that. Because a unicycle you know, wobbles around, it doesn’t have a straight ahead, it goes in every single different direction. But as soon as you put a canoe up there, it like anchors you and you can’t turn because you just it’s got all this, this resistance, unless it’s windy and then you’re in trouble. But you can be pivoting underneath and and so it actually adds stability.
So what sort of size we talking about, you know, like, are we talking like a kid’s canoe? Are we talking like a
canoe? full size canoe. So the trick is trying to turn it because it wants to go straight. Whereas normally a unicycle turns really readily. But there was a time when I was in high school where I thought I would get into the Guinness Book of World Records by riding a canoe or carrying the canoe on a unicycle farther than ever before. And I don’t think there would ever been a previous record, but I needed to do a good job, of course to make it stand in the books and I lived in Minnesota at the time. And it turns out that if I just headed west for my house, I probably could have written all the way to South Dakota. It’s like when would I stop? You know, there’s no hills, you just keep going and I thought Oh man, this doesn’t sound like fun. This sounds boring. Anyway, I never did it.
Okay, I use new analogy. Now, in the canoe and unicycle analogy, because in an organisation, some people are in the unicycles, because they like to spin around and jump around and do a tonne of different things. And then there’s the canoe, that’s the stabilising effect, but also the dampening effect and that’s the operational people who want some standardisation and consistency and predictability. So there’s this natural tension between the two. And it works as a great analogy for a lot of people in the business world.
DEBS: It’s a brilliant analogy. And I want to bring you back to something that you said you wanted to do something that your brothers couldn’t do. So I being a very competitive person myself, my I was alert, there’s like here, I would have done that as well. So are you a competitive person?
Are you a little especially with my brothers back then? Yeah, I was a little tomboy and I was very small and they were very big. And so yeah, I had to be tough.
DEBS: And is that competitiveness? Is it carried on into business life?
I don’t really think it has because I’m, I’m very much a collaborative person. I want to get things done. I wasn’t always the super collaborative business person I was more in do it myself person. But as I learned about the business world, and you know, working in corporate America, I was like, Oh my god, you got to work with these other people. And my business is all about collaboration. It’s all about helping people helping groups of you know, executives and management teams and all figure out where are we where could we go, what are our options and how do we get there. And you can’t do that? Well, unless you work with the group to really understand their ideas and to hear all their voices and, and build consensus, find the common ground and build good, good results. No good
DEBS: I’m glad I kind of really understand on this because I’m a competitive person, but I love collaborating with other people. So I I create competitions for myself. So I compete against myself to actually satisfy that competitive and nursing me. Do you do that for yourself? As long as you like, say, I’m going to get better at least I’m gonna get better at this compete with yourself.
I don’t think I do that I set a high standard for myself, but I think I keep competition for the pickleball court.
DEBS: Ah, my question is what Pickleball is because in your report while maybe the rest of the year, I don’t know what is the pickleball thing,
ANN: it’s the fastest growing sport in the world. It’s it’s a it’s a combination between tennis played at a volleyball side is court with a paddle that’s wooden instead of a racket with strings and it uses a ball. That’s it more like a wiffle ball with holes in it plastic ball with holes in it. And it’s you can play it, you can. It’s much better utilisation of court space, because it’s a smaller court. And it’s it’s a fast growing sport. It’s a wonderful sport. I really love it. It’s a it’s a great thing to do when you get a little too old to cover an entire tennis court.
Okay, right. So today, I want to talk to you about your third book.
your third book will be coming out this summer, summer 2021. And it’s being published by Bloomsbury. Tell us about the book, what’s it called?
It’s called the power of clarity unleash the true. The true What is it? unleash the true workplace potential for productivity, confidence and empowerment. You know, I really have to learn that some title pretty soon
DEBS: you do on it. But this is an interesting topic, actually. Because titles and subtitles, they are not they think Once finished, you just magic thing they come up for they evolve over time. So has your subtitle for your book evolved over time with input from other people? Or what’s been How have you come up with that subtitle that you can’t remember?
ANN: Oh, absolutely. Subtitles evolve all over the place. And that particular subtitle, my publisher provided, I think it’s a good subtitle, I think they did a good job. Because they talked about unleashing the true potential of workplace productivity, confidence and empowerment. And those three dimensions are really important in my book, but the the whole idea of the true potential for your workplace is what it’s all about to. Okay, I think I think they did a good job. But I I struggle with those. Yeah,
I think you can just stick with the power of clarity. I think that’s going to soon we’re all going to be saying, Have you got clarity in your business, we’re all going to be saying that as soon as we read the book, a mutual friend of hers has talked about the book and he said that the power of clarity does for knowledge workers, what lean thinking and the Toyota way have done for the factory floor. So I’ll make that slight? Is that just like a perfect description of a brilliant book? So tell us about the book? What’s the book about? What are we gonna learn?
And Who is it for? Yeah, I
love that description. Because, you know, you’ll get lean thinking and, and the all the process improvements of the last many years, they’ve all primarily focused on the production line, the production processes, the processes that move physical objects, they’re all physical processes, and physical processes, you can see them, you can watch them, you can watch the parts move through the factory, you can watch order forms move through their process. And it’s all very tangible and hardcore. what the deal is, is that once you get away from the production’s processes, you’ve got people who are dealing with cognitive objects, things like ideas and decisions and plans. And you need cognitive processes to move those cognitive objects. But most of us don’t have well defined well known, shared, understood processes, for moving our decisions and for gaining commitment and for planning and for solving problems. And so this whole cognitive zone realm that lean thinking hasn’t really touched.
DEBS: How do we know if we talk about these cognitive processes and cognitive objects? How do we know that we don’t have clarity? And then what are the symptoms that will feel?
ANN: Well, the symptoms I mean, just take decision making decision making is probably absolutely the most common thing we do. And the most important thing we do all day long, we make zillions of decisions. And if you’re a knowledge worker, if you’re a manager, if you’re an executive, that’s what you do, that’s your job. And yet, if you sat down a bunch of these people in a room and out To describe their decision making process, you would get as many different processes as there are people in the room. And most of them actually would be what what do you mean a process? We just talk and figure it out. There’s no sense of a well defined process to get to a decision.
DEBS: And what’s the what’s the effect of that for businesses.
ANN: As you know, because of that, it happens, you get both bad decisions, really slow decision making second guessing decisions. A lot of times, people don’t even know they’re making a decision. I’ll give you an example. I was having lunch with a bunch of executives at a global bank in London one time and there was these three women, they’re all very high powered, but they were concerned with the people above them at corporate headquarters who were in their way. And they weren’t making the decisions they needed. But they but this, this, this group I’m having lunch with didn’t recognise that they’re trying to scheme about how to get things done and kind of whining and kind of trying to figure out how to manipulate these bosses into helping them out. And the reality was, for me, just sitting there listening, there were like, eight decisions that hadn’t been made. And because these decisions hadn’t been made at all, these people were all held up, their departments were held up, the whole division was probably held up, just because of like eight basic decisions that hadn’t been made. So they didn’t recognise that they didn’t see that. Whereas in listening to them, I could see that, look, if you could just send this list of eight decisions to your boss and say, you know, we really need answers to this. The obstacles would be removed, they could move on.
DEBS: So for you, it’s like, you can see what they can’t see, because you’ve been looking for clarity for so many years, you’ve been doing it with so many clients, what’s going to help other people have that same level of knowledge in it to find the clarity to, to create clarity?
ANN: Absolutely. Because the first step and second, we’ll talk about the second, I’ll talk about the first step. And the second step of creating clarity is to really get specific about what you need. Is it a decision I need? Is it a plan I need? Is it a list of risks I need? What’s the next step that’s going to actually be a concrete tangible step that moves us forward and gets us to something we don’t have right now? What’s the first, the first the fact that people don’t see it, you know, like I was in, in an executive team meeting, where I was supposed to be just sitting and listening, because it wasn’t my turn yet. And these guys were diving into, like, an urgent problem that had come up. And they’re going around and around, and I’m supposed to just be quiet. And finally I interrupted him and said, Look, you know, you might not realise you’re talking about five different systems in two different plans, and you’re jumping around among these. And of course, they were really initially really annoyed by me, because I didn’t interrupt with him, interrupted them into our union or up to us. But then when I listed the five decisions in two clans, they just kind of like, oh, my god, she’s right. And all of a sudden, they knew, okay, we have to, you know, if this is I this first, this second, it was obvious what they needed to do. And instead of talking for an hour, they were done in 15 minutes.
So we can, when we get clarity, we can get things done faster, better together. And what what’s our objective when we have clarity, what’s our what’s, what’s the problem is?
Yeah, you can, you can all get on the same page, focus your brainpower on the same thing, and move things forward in a concrete fashion towards a result. You know, a lot of talking a lot of meetings is a lot of activity, but nothing tangible comes out of it, that unleashes the next step.
So what that first problem is that people is they don’t even realise that they are caught up in these what I call kitchen sink conversations, they don’t realise that they need to make a decision, they don’t see that they are requests can be really vague. So the first step is really to overcome this clarity, blindness and recognise how much confusion and wasted time is caused by this, this lack of clarity,
specific and then what’s the third step?
Or the third step is really to recognise that that you also need process clarity too often we dive into activity without a clear process without a path to a specific result. And when you think about process, a lot of people think in terms of activity steps, but the truth is that a process is a series of tangible outcomes that lead to your desired tangible outcome.
So it gets
it gets back to the same need for Specific tangible outcomes. And if you create a series of clear tangible outcomes, you’re sustaining that specificity over time. And you’re you’re creating a path where you can keep everyone on the same outcome that the current intermediate outcome, you can keep everyone focused. You can prevent detours, you can confirm that oh my goodness, we’re done with this step. We can move on now or no, no, wait, we we moved ahead prematurely. So if everyone sees what the process is, and understands what the path is, and stays focused on one step at a time, and each of those steps is really clear, and concrete, you make great progress. And you’re making fast.
DEBS: So make it a who doesn’t want to make great progress fast with a team of P I lay yet. Okay, so now, this is your third book. So you say you know how to write books. So
this is my first full length book from scratch.
DEBS: Right? Okay. Where did you start?
ANN: I started a little slow. But I got slipped put it this way, I got serious. A year ago, Christmas. So the beginning of 2020.
DEBS: Wow. So that’s a that’s a really quite a fast turnaround from getting serious about it, to get it written to get it and get it getting a publishing deal. And to get it into the hands of people. That’s pretty impressive.
DEBS: Yeah, my manuscript was done by the beginning of August. But I guess the part where I was less serious was about four months prior to that. And that was really about getting organised, you know, figuring out what the outline should look like figuring out what each chapter is supposed to do. And like I said, I’d never written a full length book from scratch before. And I’m, I just told you, I’m a process person, you got to figure out what your concrete steps are. So initially, you know, they were constantly re reframing and re adjusting this process, which is an important thing to do for anything that’s not a standard repeatable processes that you need to Where am I now? What have I accomplished? What do I need to do next? So I probably rewrote that outline, all bunches of times and trying to make it more specific, you know, trying to figure out who what are the problems I’m trying to solve? solve? What are the, the examples I need to give? And I think in the end, the question that helped me the most, is when for each chapter, I said, What is that I want people to think, when they finish this chapter. Yeah. So like, Chapter One is all about, we aren’t as clear as we think we are. And it’s costly. And so it was very simple. When I finally said, you know, what, I want people to finish this chapter, to say, I want him to say, Oh, my God, we really are unclear. All of these examples happen all the time. And it wastes a lot of our time. So once I kind of got to that level, for each of my chapters, I think that I had an outline that worked for me, prior to that it was juggling and trying to figure out, you know, what’s, what goes in chapter one? and what wasn’t chapter seven? And are these overlapping? It was really annoying.
DEBS: Yeah. And your process, your, your process and your method, methodology method has methodical way of working in general. I mean, I know, I saw different versions of the book, and I saw how you I think I was thinking about this this morning, I think you would have probably been more enjoyed it writing it better in a relational database or something because you would have had, you would have been able to see those relationships better rather than writing it like if there was a, the the page, the blank page created, you need that logic that system, the connections, coloured things in you’ve got your post it notes on the back, you had colours. I was just like I was so in all of your systematic approach to it. But you didn’t start off that way. And and I think through through the iterations, you created a really fantastic process and a really fantastic feedback loop for yourself. Tell us about that. This The, the, the discomfort of going through that process? Yeah, okay. So
ANN: because the book starts out trying to reveal expose this lack of clarity. You know, the first chapter is just like, we’re not as clear as we think we are. And I really needed people to understand that but it’s not until later on in the book, that I explained why that is, and then later on what to do about it. So I had all these stories and all these examples, but it turned out you know, I had to, I had to mention them to show the pain we’re facing in chapter one. I had to use them. Again, and in chapter two, when I was talking about why we aren’t as clear as we are, where we are, I had to use them again, later on when I’m giving, you know, solutions. So it was really difficult to keep track of whether I was repeating myself, because Wait a minute, how many times have already talked about this story. So yes, I put a big posted, they put like a big giant newsprint on the walls. And I had different ways of trying to organise those, but basically, it was, you know, organised by chapter generally, and then little post, its for, like, yellow post, it’s for the stories so that it would be okay, this story shows up in chapter one first, and then an orange post it’s for when I refer to those stories.
And then there were different colours for my IP, my intellectual property. So when I would introduce a concept, I put it in, you know, that chapter, but then I would refer to it in other chapters. And it was really important in this book that I carried through with the examples so that I’ve touched them multiple times, and did the same with the IP, so that my ideas were building throughout the whole book.
So yeah, I had this really, how if it’s too bad, it’s not still in the wall behind me. Actually, part of it is, that’s one of them. And it really shows, you know, trying to track all these pieces through the book, because this isn’t the kind of book where, you know, I’m just talking about something like management in chapter one. And you know, hiring and chapter two and something else. It’s not that kind of book, it’s the kind of book that really is trying to change the way people think and the way they interact and the way they work, so that they will be clear about what they’re trying to accomplish and get better results faster. But yeah, took a lot of iterations. And it was painful. And it really, you know, I used to be a software engineer, so I had to keep track of 6 million details while I was developing software. And so it tapped into all those old skills.
Thinking about these things, I think he would have been much happier doing it in an Excel spreadsheet or something. Well, I
ANN: don’t know, I think I actually think that the post, it’s worked really well, because then I can move them around and say, you know, I really, instead of introducing this in chapter one, I think I just moved the post it down to chapter four, and I go, Okay, now what, what are the ramifications of that, because I got the colour coding, it was pretty easy to move other things around. But yeah, that was it was difficult. That was one of the difficult things about the book. One of the other things is kind of interesting is that I started out with all these raw stories, and I just wanted to capture all this raw content as fast as I could. So I wrote all the stories and examples and just filled the chapters with these various stories. But the idea that later on, you know, it probably is going to move around because of my post its but then I discovered that you need to, you need a narrative to tie the stories together. Give me the thread that makes these stories all make sense. And that was more work than I thought it was gonna be.
DEBS: story in multiple different ways as well. So that’s kind of it. So depending on where it appears, you can like, right now I can put this light shine the light in this direction on this story.
ANN: Yeah. And when you move it, then you discover that Yeah, okay, now I’ve got to re position that. Yeah. And then there’s the stories where you tell and you come you finish and you go, Well, that wasn’t the point. I meant to me. It’s a good point. But that’s not the one I needed in this chapter. Now. What do I do? Yeah. Oh, he was an amazing process.
DEBS: And so what did you learn about yourself through the process?
Saying that again?
What did you learn about yourself through the process of writing the book?
That I’m hoping writing a book is is like, giving birth and I’ll forget how much work it is. So maybe,
It was a lot of work. Um, what did I learn about myself? I guess I mean, I’m pretty impressed with where I ended up. So I learned that yes, I can tell these stories and weave them together. Telling stories is actually not the natural part for me, because I tend to cut straight through to the process. You know, here’s the lesson here’s the process guys, don’t you get it? No. But people need stories, both so they can identify with the situation and picture themselves in that situation but also so they can remember and process what’s really happening. So that was it was that was interesting to play more with stories than I’m used to. I think if you read my all my articles on my website, uncommon clarity, calm, you’ll find that I To get to the point instead of the story more often than not, yeah. Okay. So
DEBS: what if you were starting again? So if you if you decided, right, I’m just gonna write a book, as I do, and you’re starting today, what would you do differently than you did last night?
ANN: I would just, I think that, like, when I said that, the best thing I did to help me organise, what was going to go in the chapter was when I said, I want people to finish this and say, Oh, my God, you know, whatever. So I wanted them to be amazed, but real clear about what they just are thinking, having finished reading that I would have started with that right away. Yeah, because I had a lot of other iterations. You know, here’s the problem. Here’s the villain, here’s the cure, you know, I did so many different variations of that. But the end result, the tangible result I wanted from my reader was them for realise, we aren’t clear, it was wasting a lot of time. That should have been obvious, because that was basically the title of that chapter anyway. But I did that throughout the whole book. And I would do that next time, start with that. And then some of the, I hope I never write a book, again, that requires this much detailed matrix of ideas. But I would use that technique sooner, so that I didn’t have to go back and figure it out.
But there were a lot of little things that, you know, like one of the things when it came to reading the final version, and trying to go back to make the final edits, I took a little time off, so I could kind of clear my brain, and then I read it aloud to myself. And it’s kind of ironic, of course, because I’m preach the need for a process at all times. But when I started reading it aloud, I didn’t really have a clear process in mind. What, what am I going to do, as I reading this, besides circling, you know, punctuation or spelling errors. And one of the things you need to do is, I think, is to go through and say, Okay, this, you know, if you’re just correcting punctuation, spelling, that kind of stuff, that’s easy. But what about the bigger things? What about, you know, I needed I developed a Mark, Mark some paragraphs is like, I like this idea. But it can be really could be better, it could be said better. So that was one thing. And then there were other places where I needed to kind of circle multiple pages and say, this whole section should be reworked. But I didn’t go in there with that. So I’m reading it, and I’m marking the little tiny stuff. And I go, oh, man, I have to go back now because I wasn’t flagging areas that made me uncomfortable and why they made me uncomfortable. So again, it’s one of the points of the of the book is that you always need to have a process where you know, what needs to be different when I’m done. Yeah, what I need is basically three things, a little errors, paragraphs I’m not comfortable with in sections that need to be reworked and possibly moved. And if I thought that first I would have had a system for marking things as I went through it.
DEBS: So one of the things I noticed as well, and you’ve just covered it here is how diligent you were at. and methodical. I know, you probably didn’t think it was methodical at time. But you were, you were very diligent and very methodical at going through. And you you are almost never satisfied. How did you decide right? That’s enough to at the peak, I’m passing it on to the middle. How did you get yourself to that point, where you felt comfortable enough that other people could read it?
ANN: That’s a really good question. Because I wouldn’t say I’m a complete perfectionist, but I probably am pretty much of a perfectionist, I had really high expectations for the book. And yes, I’m a very methodical person when it comes to that kind of thing. Though, I avoid activities like that now, because they’re too much work. Yes, you know, it’s like, I guess, because I used to be a software engineer, and I was a math major, you know, getting the details right. Always mattered. You know, I remember when, when we back in college, when a professor was asked if he would give partial credit. And he says, No, because, you know, if you’re an engineer and you, you asked her personal credit, while you’re building a bridge, and it falls in the river, that’s ridiculous. You got to get it right. So yeah, getting it right was important to me. But I think I was pretty good about saying, you know, this is, this is good enough. I’ve made the point I can tell this story. And maybe that’s through the experience, I could tell the story 100 times a little differently every time but no one’s going to notice the difference after a point. So it was being able to do that and, you know, go back through it and say this chapter really, it’s fine. It does what it needs to do. This chapter is section, this paragraph. It does what it needs to do. And maybe it’s because I was clear on About what each chapter in each paragraph needed to do. So it I could say, close enough, were close enough.
But otherwise, you know, you could start rewriting it forever. And I noticed actually, when I went back to do rewrites, I started reading a paragraph and I started rewriting. And then I, once I recognised how much rewriting I was doing, I said, Enough of that. I actually sat down and went through each chapter, and made a list of Okay, this does this, this does this, this paragraph does that kind of mapped out, this is what it’s doing. And then without doing any edits, and then I went through with a different colour pen and said, this could be better and why this could be better and why. So I made sort of a little checklist or an Action List of what I had to change in that chapter. Whereas Otherwise, I would just rewrite it rewritten and rewritten the whole darn thing. Yeah. Yeah. So I nailed it down to Okay, these are the eight things wrong with this chapter. Yeah.
DEBS: Okay, so that’s, in my terminology, you actually started constraining yourself, because it’s quite easy to just completely, always be in this creation mode and making it nicer and better. And in the software engineers, gold plating and adding new features and benefits and whatnot, you know, so you have to constrain yourself now, what sort of constraints did you put on where the time constraints? And were they external constraints or internal constraints? Were they yours? Or were they from somewhere or,
ANN: you know, I’m not even sure when I look back on it, I feel like that’s all I did for seven months is write that book once I really got serious about it. But at the same time, I know that for me, my four apps, as you know, are a family fun fitness and friends. And it was really important to me that I still got out and was active and went hiking on the good days and skiing on the good days. I did a less of it while I was writing the book. But I believe I still stayed active and got the exercise I needed and had the fun I needed and all that the pandemic, of course, dampens things a little there were no friends to speak of. So that changed things. But that was almost all I feel like that was all I was doing was writing that book. Yeah. And I intentionally took less work while I was doing that, you know, fewer projects who were clients, so get it done? It looks a lot.
Do you think he’s been laughing, all of that effort that you’ve put in has it been worth it for you so far,
it’s, it’s worth it. Because I’m very happy with the product. I re read the whole thing just the other day to do the final edits. And I thought it would bore me stiff, because I’ve got been rounded so many times, but no, like, this is good. This is good stuff. I’m happy with this, you know, that’s cool. So that’s nice. And I really feel like this is my legacy book, it’s my mission really is to help people create clarity to learn how to be clear in what they’re trying to accomplish, what they need to get do to get there, who they need to work with, to do it and to get things done. So I think this book achieves a lot of that. And I would love, you know, every organisation and every employee to learn how to harness the power of clarity, because the potential is enormous. If you look at the A lot of people will say that they really only productive about two hours of the day. And that’s because it’s not because they’re they’re wasting time. chit chatting is because there are so many obstacles, and there’s so much time spent that, you know, isn’t really moving things forward one step at a time. So employees will love the book, because they’ll want to just hand it to their bosses and say, we got to do this guys. The bosses need to read it. They need to make prior clarity a priority for the company. So they need to establish a culture of clarity they need to change the way people think the way they talk vocabulary they use a lot of attention.
DEBS: If you could give us one tip. Now one thing we should do differently going forward to get ourselves more clarity or knowledge workers and leaders and executives. What should we do? So there’s one thing different. One simple thing
ANN: would be to eliminate what I call treadmill verbs. You know, if you get on a treadmill, you can you can go forever, you can walk forever, you can run forever, you never get to the lake shore, you never get to the mountaintop. Well, a lot of the language we use and in the corporate world and a lot of the management speak is what I call treadmill verbs their verse like review, you can review for ever, there’s no way to know when you’re done. You can inform forever, you can communicate forever. You can report forever. There’s no you never get to the lake shore, the mountaintop. There’s no way to know when you’re done.
So when you have a meeting and people People are recording or reviewing or informing they just talking isn’t trivial verbs are an invitation to talk without much of a specific purpose. So you need to eliminate all of those. You can’t use the word report, review, inform, communicate, share, update, you’ve heard these words, and you’re, oh, my God, this is the way we talk. You know, I don’t think I talked that way before I joined the corporate world. That’s the way they talk. And they’re terrible words, instead, we need to decide, we need to make a list of priorities, we need to make a list of risks, we need to create plans. Planning is a little dicey, because you can plan forever. But if you’re clear about what you need in your plan, you know, when you’re done, because you’ve finished, you know, who’s doing what, when, when you make a decision, you know, you’re done, because you’ve got a decision. When you solve a problem, you know, you’re done, because you’ve got a solution. When you’re, when you’re planning, you know, you have to look at risks. So you make a list of risks, you know, when you’re done when you finish the list. So, there aren’t that many destination verbs. There are lots of treadmill verbs. And so if there’s one thing you could do would be just to outlaw abolish, completely eliminate trend overs in your business life and maybe beyond your business life.
DEBS: Yeah. I know, treadmill verbs that some of my favourite things are I’m just going to plan to do something. Maybe tomorrow, next week. I’m always planning to do things. So yeah, planning, and yet, I’m always planning and never finished a plan. So that’s one of my own personal treadmill verbs that I need to eliminate. Okay, we’re going to change tack a little bit, I’m going to ask you My favourite question. I asked everybody this question, and I’m really nervous but asking you this question. His question is, when was the last time you did something for the first time
ANN: writing a book otherwise, boy, I mean, I’m, I’m, I’m always climbing new mountains. And actually, they each one is really just an extension of something I’ve done before previous different sorter other mountains, but I didn’t climb.
I grew up in the Midwest where there weren’t mountains and mostly canoed. And so a couple years ago, we started doing serious hiking here and going up mountains. And I absolutely love it. And I’m, you know, going up much higher mountains than I ever thought I could climb. So it’s been a tonne of fun. And so is that new enough in now, I was just worried that we were going into, I don’t know, some canoes, or some monkeys or I don’t know, some extra way it was going to appear. I was a bit nervous. So but climbing mountains, or like climbing mountains,
I love travelling and I always like going to different places, instead of going back to old places. I went to Costa Rica last year. And you know, that was fun. And there were monkeys, lots of monkeys, and it was fun.
DEBS: so if you could give your 20 year old self a bit of advice now. What would you What would you tell yourself to do?
ANN: I would just you just hate to just be cliche, but I would just say just do it in 2020 year old self. That’s That’s a long time ago. Me certainly, you know, later when I started publishing things, and you hesitate to publish something, you hesitate to send your first article out into the world. And it’s just like, just do it. And the faster and more you do it, the better because then any one article doesn’t matter much. If you screw up, you know, what’s, who cares if one article isn’t great, as long as you have a lot of other articles that are decent. So it’s like just just let it go get out there and let it go. And if you’re, you know, younger still, then, you know, back. When I was in my 20s I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I actually didn’t know until I was like 50 because that’s when I decided to become a consultant. And that was a great decision. But I didn’t chart a smooth path to where I am now. I tried a lot of different things. I sold minnows, I washed cars, I worked at resorts and drove school buses. You know, I just experimented with a lot of different things. I’ve taught school for a while. And then I got into software engineering. And then I kind of pushed the envelope there too and got into all kinds of interesting corporate projects. All the projects no one else wanted that were cross functional cross divisional and needed my clarity. So I say you know, just go for it. If you get an offer, say yes, try it. Do as many different things as you can. If you’re thinking about creating content, like you’re talking about, just do it. Get it out there, get it done. Maybe it’s not perfect, but then you can do something different than it’ll be better. And it’ll be worth more than sitting forever on the first one. So just do it,
DEBS: do it. And I mean, you write for Forbes and I, I’m always seeing your name all over the place, right? You are on your newsletter list. So how can we find how can we read more of your writing,
ANN: www.uncommonclarity.com. There’s a lot of content there. But forbes.com searching there from me, you’ll see articles there. And the other, the other thing to do is to go to www.uncommonclarity.com sign up for my newsletter, if you sign up for my newsletter, you pretty much get everything eventually. And along with forbes.com, then you’ll you’ll pretty much see everything that I write. And I do write a lot. my newsletter only comes out once a month, so you’re not going to be tortured. But it’ll be a couple of articles in there. And usually there’s something for everyone, including, you know, I’ve got subscribers all over the world of all types, including a lot of people who say, Man, I use this with my family. I use this with my kids. I use this for everything. Because you know what clarity isn’t just about business. Clay, clarity is how you figure out exactly what you’re want to do, and get it done faster and working better with people to accomplish things.
Brilliant. Okay, final question. Is there anything you want to tell us that I haven’t asked you? Boy,
I don’t think so. Let’s
be sure to buy my book when it comes out The Power of Clarity
book. So it’s going to come out summer of 2021. It’s Bloomsbury book, and it’s called The Power of Clarity – Unleash the true potential of workforce productivity, confidence and empowerment
Yeah, and it also, you know, take a look at it. I think you’ll find it a valuable book, but then go put a review on Amazon for me, please.
What do you like about it? Because you know that you read reviews when you pick up books on Amazon. And so if you post reviews, it’ll help other people know. And you know, I really am on a mission to create clarity and I would love your help, the more people understand that we aren’t as clear as we think we are now. And how to harness the power of clarity and all that it can possibly do for you is is better for the world. And then you’ll sit in fewer boring meetings, you’ll second guess fewer decisions, you’ll waste less time at work. Believe me, there’s more benefits than you can possibly imagine. Brilliant.
Thank you and wonderful to speak to you today. And I’ll see you soon off, go and have some fun or some fitness some friends or family and we’ll speak soon.
Thanks a lot. Have fun. All right.