In my last post, I wrote about commitment, the first of four critical elements of successful change. The second critical element is clarity. There are two things to be very clear about when it comes to creating and sustaining change, in yourself or in your organization. You have to know where you’re going, and you have to clearly see what’s true now. The first builds directly on the element of commitment, and is often called vision: what are you committed to? What do you want to be different as the result of this change? Being concrete and specific in painting a clear picture of the future can help ground and inspire people’s efforts toward change.
In contrast, seeing what’s true now helps clarify where you’re starting from. While this may seem obvious, often it is not. Our filters and assumptions always influence what we see and how we see it – and we often don’t know that this is happening. So, developing clarity about what’s true now means learning to recognize your filters and assumptions and see beyond them. As you do, you will see your situation in new ways, and see new possibilities for action that you couldn’t imagine before.
Here are some examples of leaders whose goals for change will shift as they develop a clearer picture of their starting point:
These examples illustrate a pattern that often plays out in change efforts: when we look closely, we see our part in keeping things how they currently are. As human beings, we tend to blame others for our problems. However, it is almost always true that everybody involved in a problem plays some part in either creating or perpetuating it. Developing enough clarity to see your own part is one of the important steps in any change effort.
Whether you want to lead your team through a change process, or make some changes in your own behavior, it’s critical to take the time to get real clarity – about where you are now, and where you want to get to. The action steps below offer some ideas for getting the level of clarity that will support successful change.
Action Steps: Building Clarity for Change
How has the lack of clarity hurt change efforts that you’ve been involved with? How have you built clarity to support change?