Clarity – The Most Critical Aspect of a Successful Organization

If I had to pick one word that was most critical to defining and driving the success of an organization, it would be CLARITY.  Clarity is of vital importance to every aspect of an organization at a business and personal level.  Setting the overall direction of a company, roles, and responsibilities, setting goals and recognizing success are all areas that can all be improved with clarity.

Through my experience, I have found that most companies, large or small, suffer from a lack of clarity at some level.  While it may manifest itself in different ways, I believe that clarity is an underlying cause of many challenges.  And, while a major issue, it truly isn’t impossible to overcome.  If companies understand the importance of clarity and drive it across the organization, success will improve.

Here are a few key areas of critical importance to success:

Clarity of:

  • Purpose – By establishing a clear purpose for an organization or company, you drive an understanding of what the company is about and what it will take to be successful. This clarity of purpose can be trickled down throughout the rest of the company and departmental and individual levels.  Each level of the organization should be able to look at the clearly defined purpose of the level above and be able to understand their role in success.  This clarity will also drive a higher level of engagement because people want to know that they are part of a bigger purpose and that what they are doing matters at a broader level.
  • Roles & Responsibilities – Once the purpose of an organization is clear, clearly defining Roles & Responsibilities becomes critical. By having this level of clarity, an organization can operate more effectively and efficiently with less of a chance for overlap and conflict within an organization or across organizational boundaries.  Individuals will have full visibility of the roles of others and know how to help their success and when to lean on them for support.
  • Communications – having clear and direct communications minimizes the confusion in the organization and provides a common understanding across all parties. While everyone has a different communication style, from short one-line messages to long drawn out explanations, it is important to encourage clear messaging.  People should understand if there is action required or if it is for informational purposes only.  If there is any question, then the message isn’t clear enough.
  • Objectives – When setting targets and objectives at the company or individual levels, the more detailed and clear the better. The objectives should be clearly linked to the overall purpose of the organization and/or the role of the individual.  This linkage will drive a higher level of connection and engagement.
  • Accountability – This is a big one that seems to be missing.  Once we have clarity on the overall purpose and visibility of our role in fitting with that purpose, we need to execute to drive success.  Then be held accountable to that execution.  Many companies I have worked with can get to a level of clarity of the purpose, but then fall when it comes to accountability.  Part of a leader’s role is to clearly articulate the expectation of performance and the consequences of not performing.  I will cover that in a later article.

What other areas can you think of that would improve with clarity?  Make sure you make it a point to focus on clarity across your organization and on a personal level – I guarantee you will have a stronger impact and more success.


Does Your Organization Have Clarity?

Clarity: it guides every aspect of your company from employees and daily activities to investments, long and short term decisions and virtually every facet of the organization.  Without it, success will be minimal.

We often see leaders in organizations that believe their purpose is clear; however, in many instances, it is only clear to them.  They wonder why the organization is struggling to achieve its goals.  These leaders need to begin to peel back the onion to determine if there is truly clarity across the organization.

Clarity needs to start at the top, with a defined purpose of the organization.  By providing clarity of purpose, you establish the basis for which all decisions and activities will be made.  As decisions are made and actions taken, the fundamental question that should be asked is – Does this align with the company’s purpose?  If it doesn’t, then the action shouldn’t be taken and people should move on to more critical issues that support the purpose.

If there is ambiguity in your purpose and too much left for individual interpretation, decisions may conflict with the purpose and may not be aligned with others who have interpreted the purpose as something different.  Activities will be uncoordinated and while they will likely be based on sound business logic, they may not be in line with the organizational objectives.

We often hear the word “silos” in business.  This is when different pieces of the organization are operating separately and truly by themselves.  Silos tend to happen when there isn’t clarity of purpose at the organizational level.  People spin off and begin doing what they “believe” is right without fully understanding the broader impacts.  This often creates conflicting strategies that then compete for the same resources and drive additional inefficiencies.

Organizational roles & responsibilities must also have Clarity.  Without this clarity, people become confused as to what expectations are on them and how they are impacting the overall success.  Without a strong understanding of their individual purpose, people will become less engaged in what they do and thus less effective.  A number of studies show that employees want to be engaged and supporting success.

Clarity of roles & responsibilities is critical not only at the individual level, but also across the organization – having a clear understanding of what others are responsible for.  With this understanding people will know who to leverage and team with to accomplish objectives.  By clearly tying each individual’s purpose to the broader purpose, you will create a stronger and more cohesive team with known objectives and linked goals.

Clarity also helps with accountability across the organization.  With a clear sense of purpose and defined roles & responsibilities an organization and its individuals are more likely to hold each other accountable to achieving goals and objectives.  Too often we see organizations that lack clarity which makes accountability difficult to achieve.  If individuals are accountable, they are more likely to be driven toward success.

If you lead an organization, take a moment to ensure that you are driving clarity across all aspects of your business.  I would even ask you to validate your belief by surveying your team and asking a few simple questions:

  • What is the purpose of our organization?
  • Do you understand your role in driving the success of this purpose?
  • Do you understand the roles of others and how they are linked to the success of this purpose?

While you may find some interesting responses, all of the information you gather will allow you to ensure yourself of clarity.

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