Communication & Alignment

6 Questions to Answer to Create Clarity in Your Business

In 2010, Tony Mazzella had an insight during one of his Vistage meetings.  After hearing one of our expert speakers, he realized that the culture that helped create his successful business had changed and he had multiple cultures because of recent acquisitions.  His company had become too internally focused and disorganized. He realized that the cause was his own lack of clarity.

6 Questions to Answer to Create Clarity in Your BusinessIn my first blog about clarity, I said that clarity is created from the choices that you make and then clearly over-communicated. Once Tony recognized his problem, he used Patrick Lencioni’s books and Lencioni’s company, The Table Group, to solve it.

What needs to be crystal clear?

In his book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (J-B Lencioni Series), Lencioni advocates that the following 6 questions be answered in order to create clarity around the most important aspects of a business:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is the most important thing right now?
  6. Who must do what?

Tony used these 6 questions to create “The Mazzella Way”.

“I built a crystal clear picture of what I wanted my company to be and put a lot of energy in it and around it.”

He also restructured all of his meetings to over-communicate his vision to his team. Here are some of the ways in which he communicates:

  • Every morning at 8:20, he and his Executive Team talk for 10 minutes about their major focus for the day.
  • At the end of each meeting where a decision was made, he uses the idea of “cascading messages”. His team reviews the decisions that they made that day. Then, they determine:
    • Who needs to know about those decisions?
    • What gets communicated?
    • What stays confidential?
    • Who will communicate those decisions?
    • How will the decisions be communicated?
    • When will they be communicated?
  • A monthly newsletter is mailed to all employees’ homes and includes information about all of his companies.

As a result of these communication changes, Tony notices that his “employees are talking about the good stuff” that is featured in the newsletter.  In addition, his Executive Team is a more cohesive group and the culture is beginning to change for the better. Tony has learned that the key to creating clarity at Mazzella Companies is “commitment, discipline and frequent communication”.

How is Tony sure that his employees are receiving the same message that he is sending?  He asks them to restate what they heard, and he notices that the types of questions that they ask now are very different. Now they are focused on understanding the new “Mazzella Way”.

Clarity is achieved through making difficult decisions and then repeatedly communicating them, and it is vital to the success of your company.

If you don’t know where to start, try what Tony did: use the model developed by Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business and answer the key 6 questions for yourself.

Category: Communication & Alignment Leadership


About the Author: Cheryl McMillan

Cheryl is a Vistage Master Chair and Executive Coach. She has a passion for raising awareness in leaders about how their choices and unconscious actions impact their results. She leads two C-Suite peer advisory boards, comprised of CEO's or …

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