Harness the power of organizational clarity to navigate change

Article Chris Erickson 5m read

Any company experiencing transformation can suddenly find its truths in flux. Its vision cloudy. What used to be clear and accurate about your business, brand, and mission may no longer apply in your present reality.

These moments of stark change are inflection points—radical departures often triggered by new leadership/ownership/investors, directional shifts, or existential threats (learn more about common inflection points). Inflection points upset the status quo—which can be a great thing! They are paths to new opportunities, but the way forward can appear fuzzy—like you’re looking through a fog. 

That makes decision-making difficult for every part of your business, from brand to operations to sales. If you don’t know where you’re going in the face of your new reality, how can you expect to arrive at the right destination?

You need clarity. 

Without it, an inflection point can send your company careening in the wrong direction. Let’s explore how you got here, how to know if you are operating in a haze, and how you can uncork a bottle of clarity to get to where you need to be.

When your business is facing change, confusion can take hold.

To be clear, it’s natural for organizations at inflection points to find themselves in a fog. Things that were once clearly defined get upended when change enters the picture. Previous objectives, procedures, projections, strategies, and assumptions may no longer apply. 

Sometimes it’s abundantly clear you have a new plot. Other times, not so much. For example, if you have become acclimated to operating with a degree of fuzziness, you might not even realize how much crisper things could be.

Here’s what a lack of clarity looks like in practice:

  • You have a “roadmap.” But it exists in five different versions across eight Powerpoints and six Google docs.

  • Better yet, your roadmap is in your leader’s head. Putting it on paper is always a priority, but never a reality.

  • Goals and directives change day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month.

  • Projects and initiatives often get partway finished, only to have objectives change.

  • For the past two years, your team has found themselves telling your team and partners, “We’re just about to finish our platform/strategy/roadmap. We’ve done the work. It’s so close. Stay tuned.” 

  • Your organization/leadership doesn’t share a conviction about why you exist, and what you’re going to accomplish, so you ask your customers what they think (and then you call it research).

  • Your founder moved on, and you’re left wandering the desert. It’s only now becoming clear that they were the company’s walking, talking roadmap.

  • Your team is constantly in churn. Especially your leadership.

All of these scenarios are only amplified during times of change. When you don’t have clarity, the instinct is to grasp for something—anything—to clear the air and find your footing. “We need a makeover! A new website! A brand refresh!” But these calls to action don’t lead to alignment or clarity. They're just Band-Aids.

Slow down. Catch your breath.

Clarity is a practical map through the dark forest.

Now you know you gotta clear the fog. It’s time to move forward with a shared vision and understanding. Together, with clarity. 

Think about taking a group hike in the woods. You’re exploring alone or together, enjoying whatever you encounter along the way. There isn’t a lot of clarity around where you’re going or how long it’s going to take, but it’s a good time.

Then the sun slips below the horizon. It’s getting dark. It’s harder to find your way. Did anyone bring a flashlight? Something to eat? Anything to start a fire? A tent? A map? Where’s Linda?

The same can be said for organizations where clarity (or a lack thereof) works in a similar fashion. How different would the hike be if your leader pointed at a map and said:

“OK, let’s meet right here, on the ledge beneath that peak. That’s where we’re going. I know a few different ways to get there, and I’m sure there are paths I’m not aware of. No matter how you get there, let’s plan on arriving at 4 o’clock, and I’ll have dinner ready for everybody.”

That's helpful. It’s even better when the leader can say: “And here's the map. I've made one for everybody. It has the suggested routes. If you find a better way, I’ll be stoked to hear about it when you arrive. Here's your stuff. Here are your tools. Let’s go.”

That’s clarity.

Prioritize clarity amid transition.

No matter what inflection point you’re facing, clarity improves your company’s chances of coming through it on the right trajectory. 

Here are clarity’s most potent value propositions: 

  1. Clarity fosters alignment.

    1. It gets everybody on the same page, exposing and eliminating confusion, misunderstandings, and misalignment. It turns ambiguity into articulation. It identifies and embraces nuance. It gives teams a shared vernacular, vision, goals, and objectives. Clarity is reading the rules on the inside cover of the board game box out loud to everyone before diving in. It’s a shared language—a shared set of expectations the whole team is accountable to.

  2. Clarity gives you direction.

    1. It allows everybody to move forward with velocity. And—importantly—in the same direction. After all, misdirected velocity can be disastrous. It allows individuals and teams to work autonomously but toward a shared goal. It creates confidence and authority. Decisions can be made more rapidly, ushering in a new level of efficiency. It creates healthier cultures and reduces turnover. It increases collaboration across teams and disciplines.

  3. Clarity creates consistency and ensures quality.

    1. It makes things measurable. It sets the standard. It makes expectations known. It raises the ceiling of what’s possible. Clarity provides straightforward answers to common and uncommon questions.

Is there a better way to navigate the uncertainty of change than by prioritizing clarity? If so, we haven’t found it. This is why we guide organizations through an alignment engagement that will cut through the fog and reorients your entire organization.

If you’re at an inflection point, pump the brakes a bit.

When facing a critical moment of transition, the temptation might be to say, “The only way forward is through.” That doesn’t work. You can’t just plow ahead and hope to feel your way through an inflection point. 

Instead, take a moment to step back. This is about slowing down to speed up. When you press pause, regroup. Collect yourself and establish clarity. Do that first, and you can move forward with purpose and momentum.