May 31

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Trait four of a super-professional: CLARITY

Clarity is the fourth in the series of key characteristics of a ‘super’ professional. In previous articles, I described resilience, autonomy, and agility. Let us explore clarity.

Clarity means clearness of purpose and primarily results from simplicity, that is, simple rules, processes and solutions.

Complexity may result from well-intentioned, incremental additions to rules and processes, but end up over time being cumbersome and inefficient. Think of the taxation laws, which have amendments to the amendments, which ends making the whole process very obscure and difficult to navigate. Good for tax advisers, not so good for taxpayers.

Complicated processes are added to other complicated processes and systems in large organisations, which means accomplishing any task requires more and more work and not towards finishing the task.

This has resulted because there was a problem, so an additional step is added to a process without increasing its complexity too much, but then, over time, adding steps here and there, a task that once took a handful of steps now requires meetings, reviews and sign-off by numerous stakeholders.

The appropriate response by a professional is to challenge current rules, processes and systems aiming to simplify and get clarity. Simple solutions usually provide higher value for money but may take more effort, at least in the first instance.

Simplicity, which leads to clarity, can free up a professional’s time, hence you are able to ‘work less achieve more’, either be able to get more done in the same time or reduce work time to a reasonable level.

Having simpler processes has many other impacts as well — quicker and easier to transfer a process to others, more efficient in terms of staff time and cost, shorter timelines to deliver results and increased job satisfaction.

Clarity is tied to communication — how we present and understand the requirements, consider options and develop solutions. Communication, however, is a soft skill and many professionals have not had the practice or experience or had the opportunity to develop this critical skill.

To improve clarity means questioning current practices:

  • Is this process efficient?
  • What are the constraints or barriers?
  • What steps can be removed, and the end result be the same or better?
  • Is this rule/requirement hindering arriving at the best solution? (eg too many sign-offs required)
  • What is the minimum viable solution?
  • Is the solution the most cost-effective?

Clarity or clearness of purpose is a desirable characteristic of a ‘super’ professional and requires driving towards simplicity, that is, simple rules, processes and solutions


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