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What is Clarity anyway?

My two cents.

Clarity is the peace of mind that comes when you are confident that (1) the action (2) will have the desired outcome (3) for well-understood reasons. Sounds simple, right? In practice, it's actually a bit more complex.

Finding The Magic Toaster

Most of the time, people focus on action: "what can we do right now that works?" This is an entirely reasonable assumption to make if you are working with a process that is already working. For example, if you want to make toast, you put some bread in the toaster, press the button, and wait a few minutes. The fragrant outcome is practically guaranteed, because the toaster has been perfected over the past hundred years to toast without fail. So if you want to make toast, the "thing you do that works" is to go find a toaster. Duh.

Since you are doing something that's new to you, you are looking for the equivalent of that toaster. It either already exists, or you'll have to invent it yourself. This can be fun, starting with the investigation of what already exists, seeing what other people have already achieved, and feeling the excitement of making your first piece of toast with the equipment you've gathered for your research. And it's right about at this time, just when you are ready to take what you've learned and share it with the world, that the doubts start rising:

  • Will people want my version of toast?
  • How do I get people to try my version of toast?
  • Do I really want to spend my life making toast?

And that's when focusing only on the first element of clarity—action—gets you into trouble. Sure, you can make toast, but is that really what you want? How does it relate to your other desires? Do you even know what they are? And just how does toast really make that kind of sweeping change possible?

You can substitute the idea of "making toast" for just about any development process; making websites, writing software, arts and crafts, marketing techniques, and professional services are all activities that produce a "product" as the result of an applied process driven by common knowledge in your field. If you want your toast to be the most delicious in the land, you need more than just those basics. You need to have an edge. Clarity gives you the total understanding of what you're doing, so you can make the improvements you need and know that they are working.

Making Clarity, Not Toast

Clarity, as I define it, is comprised of three elements: action, expectation, and understanding. In other words, you know a particular action results in some kind of change, because you know the secrets of what is happening under surface appearances. Clarity gives you the edge.

If you are learning an existing craft, you can learn these secrets from a master once you find one. It's usually pretty easy when you're getting started, because you just need someone who is relatively more knowledgable than you. It's only when you are seeking a rare or non-existent craft that the search for mastery becomes difficult. It is in this latter case—the making of something new—that you have to create your own clarity.

This is where I can help. Here's how the consultation process works:

  • Applying the Investigative Design Process - I begin every project by asking a few basic questions: What do you want to do? What do you expect will happen? Why are you doing this right now? Why do you think it will work? This line of questioning uncovers the unspoken assumptions that we often forget to mention, and all you need to do is talk; I'll take all the notes and do all the writing while we chat. It takes about 30 minutes, and the end result is your action map that shows all your available courses of actions.
  • Identifying Your Storytelling Context - With your action map in front of you, we can take the time to explore your underlying motivations: What would you REALLY like to happen? What is most important to you?

    If you're not sure you know how to answer those questions, don't worry...I'm good at drawing out answers you didn't know you had. For example, I might ask you, "What movie director or movie portrays how you might like to live your life?" or "How did you get started doing what you're doing now?" Everyone has a story, and everyone has certain strengths that recur over and over. By understanding your strengths and underlying motivations, we can design a process that works with your natural tendencies.
  • Applying the Scientific Creative Method - You might be familiar with The Scientific Method from school. This is when you form a hypothesis about how something works (that is, you make an "informed guess") and then design an experiment that tests your hypothesis (in other words, "you make a bet"). If your hypothesis/guess was right, you have confirmed your understanding/won some money based on your powers of reasoning. If, however, you guessed wrong, you have to form a NEW hypothesis that explains what happened, and test again. This is how real understanding is built, experience by experience.

    The Scientific Creative Method (a term I've made up) works in a similar way, except our goal is to make change, not just observe. Our change-making experiments are built on the the insights gained from you in the first two steps, and are further informed by my experience with design, engineering, and business. The goal is to be able to explain how it all works so you can engineer a sure path toward your goals. It's very doable, and concrete.
  • Tracking Your Progress - It takes less time than you think to go through the first three steps; it can be done in a couple of hours. The rest of the time, you'll be building your own assets and resources, using the maps that we've created and the steps that we've outlined. To help keep you on track, I provide customized productivity forms and am reachable by email and our collaboration website so you can report on your progress. What I can help you with, I will provide.