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Creating Clarity of Purpose, Structure, and Measurement

FastTrac, Kauffman Foundation

Organizations thrive when they are clear about what needs to get done, who needs to do it, and how it should get done. With clarity, everyone can pull together for a common cause. Without clarity there is wasted effort and even chaos. In his analysis of Ewing Kauffman’s company, Marion Laboratories, Gerald W. Holder attributed the organization success to an entrepreneurial leadership team that focused significant energy on creating clarity throughout the work force. The leaders of Marion Labs followed three imperatives: clarity of purpose, structure, and measurement.

Clarity of purpose – People need to know why the organization exists. They want a reason to give their enthusiastic support. They want to be part of an organization that is the first or best at something, does what no other organization has ever done, helps people solve problems, or helps people lead better, safer, healthier or more productive lives. Do not expect anyone else to get excited about “making you rich.” As one entrepreneur put it, “I want my people to get rich because I have set up a system whereby if they get rich, so do I.”

What you can do: Have a clear sense of what you want your company to stand for and accomplish. Communicate your vision regularly. Ensure that goals and decisions are consistent with this vision. Remind your management team and employees that decisions and actions need to be consistent with the overarching vision.

Clarity of structure – People need to know their roles and responsibilities as well as those of others in the organization. This knowledge and confidence allows them to concentrate on their own job and give it their full energy while recognizing the importance of working as a team.

What you can do: Ensure that job roles support the company’s direction. Job descriptions should include goals and performance objectives aligned with the vision of the company.

In a rapidly growing venture, the opportunities for promotion are likely to be great. For example, a sales representative may become a manager in a very short time. Discuss the organization’s structure and possibility for advancement opportunities with potential employees. Some may accept a low-paying position at first if they will be given more responsibility and compensation in the near future.

Clarity of measurement – Knowing how to measure the results in a business is essential. Explain to people within the organization what is being measured, how it is being measured, and why it is being measured. This clarity lets them know where to focus their effort.

What you can do: Develop clear sets of performance measurements for each area of your company and for each individual. Acknowledge and reward individuals for meeting those goals.

© 2006 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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