Need Clarity?

April 18, 2013 — 5 Comments

How clear is your team on its purpose? Can everyone clearly name the audience(s) you seek to serve? What are the most important results that you must deliver? How clear are you, as a team?

You might be surprised.

It’s one thing to have everyone repeat a vision statement. It’s another when an outsider drops in and asks some clarity questions: What exactly is your team trying to accomplish? For whom? How will you know if you’re successful?

This week the digital strategies team I lead had two different experts drop in for one-hour chat sessions; Mike on Tuesday, Steve on Wednesday. Both are friends of the ministry and leaders of their own companies. Without prompting from me, both of them asked the clarity questions. Both days generated some great discussion. Our team is less than a year old. We do have two primary audiences that we seek to serve, which creates some tension and confusion when allocating scarce time and resources. We’re also in startup phase in the digital environment, so our work involves many new projects, rapid failure/learning cycles, and a lot of iteration. Our larger organization is over 60 years old, continues to maintain a lot of aging initiatives and projects, and has a much longer iteration/change cycle. So, as Steve put it, we’re like a startup company with a tiny office on one deck of the Queen Elizabeth II.

As team leader, I felt tempted to brush off Mike’s and Steve’s penetrating questions with some trite, canned responses. But that wouldn’t help us fulfill our purpose. I needed to share leadership for the session with outsiders and allow them to exert influence (= leadership) on us. Lesson for me: Don’t fear being humbled and helped by friends who come with fresh perspective on our team processes and products. More clarity helps everyone be more fruitful.

How clear is your team on its purpose, audience(s) and outcomes? Are you sure about that?

5 responses to Need Clarity?

  1. Ken, great words of wisdom and honesty too.

  2. Humility is the start of great learning! Thanks for sharing openly and honestly.

  3. “We’re like a startup company with a tiny office on one deck of the Queen Elizabeth II”

    In Destino we feel this as we try to innovate within the larger org. I appreciate your thoughts on the iteration cycle of the startup vs the org. I will share this post with my team.

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    […] more about taking advice as a leader and a team in Need Clarity? by Ken Cochrum. This post is great for any team or team leader whether or not you’re serving […]

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