When there's no clarity, anything goes. And when anything goes, the outcome tends to suffer.
The phrase "as clear as mud" is often used with tongue in cheek, but I believe it represents a serious problem that people could easily avoid if they just asked certain questions.
I'm currently dealing with a situation at work where there's a great degree of unclarity amongst individuals and teams. Invariably, this makes it extremely difficult to execute.
Where are we moving towards?
When do have to get there?
Who's in charge of what?
Does it include this? That?
How do we plan to get there?
These are basic, fundamental questions that must be asked, and answered, by anyone or any team trying to move in the same direction to a shared outcome. If you don't, you'll never get there.
How could you possible expect a successful outcome if:
you don't know where you're going?
you don't know when you have to get there?
you don't know who's responsible for what?
you don't know the boundaries?
you don't know how you plan to get there?
Yet this is how many people go about their lives. It's bad enough in a business context when a team needs to accomplish something.
But in life, when things are chaotic, confusing, and uncertain, it's becomes very difficult to ever feel good, mainly because you're not making progress, and you have nothing to ground yourself in, or so you feel.
You're not making progress because you don't know where you're going. Or if you do know where you're going, you don't know if what you're doing is getting you closer to that.
All in all, projects, life, and everything in between suffers when there's a lack of clarity.
One of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes is:
"Complexity is the enemy of execution."
I love it because it couldn't be more true, especially in my life. If I look at all the times I've struggled, nearly all of them have been due to complexity, lack of clarity, or disorganization. When things are complex, it's that much harder to do things.
To overcome this, it helps to list out what you're confused about, what questions you need answered, and then hunt down those answers incessantly until you have them.
But don't stop there. Make sure all parties are aware of the answers and can agree on what's written down. It's not enough for just one out of 10 people to know what's going on.
As humans we need to feel like we're grounded in something so we can hold on to some truths. Otherwise, we feel uncertain, and unsafe. Of course there are people who have an easier time executing amidst uncertainty, but no matter how capable we are of trudging through complexity, we all need boundaries and lanes to work with.
If you're dealing with a lack of clarity in school, business, or life in general, try writing down questions - both the ones I've listed above, and some of your own if you have them. Then don't stop until you're able to answer them, or find people who can help you answer them.
It doesn't really matter where the answer comes from. As long as you find it, agree with it, and feel empowered to execute against it.
What are your thoughts on complexity? How has it prevented you from achieving the things you set out to do?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories.
Live with substance!