Category Archives: Clarity of Thought

Good Intentions are Never Enough

Everyone has good intentions… Everyone WANTS to do the right thing. But good intentions are never enough. Stuff doesn’t get done based solely on people’s good intentions. Change can’t happen based only on good intentions. What is needed is a way to mechanize people’s good intentions. “Mechanisms” are the way. A Mechanism is a complete process that ensures things get done. A complete process is a ‘virtuous cycle’ that reinforces and improves itself as it operates like a snowball rolling downhill. …Continue reading

Have a Plan (With Dates)

I’ve written a lot on the importance of having a plan. This week’s Leadership Principle tip doubles-down on that. Consider a status update: Bad: “The team will investigate the issue.” Good: “The team will complete the investigation of the issue by Tuesday afternoon and will share a plan for how to fix it by Thursday.” The Good version of this does a few things: It enables accountability on the next steps. It conveys the appropriate …Continue reading

Tools to Achieve Clarity of Thought

This post is an inventory of tools I use to drive clear thinking. I update it regularly as I learn new tools, or gain new insights about existing tools as I use them. I am available to do 1:1 or group coaching on all of these topics. See Advising, Coaching, and Consulting | Kindel Tig’s Clarity of Thought Toolbox Embrace Mental Models. A mental model is an explanation of how something works. It is a …Continue reading

Clear Narratives Show Instead of Tell

This is yet-another-post on the topic of Amazon-style “six-page memos,” aka Narratives. This post focuses on the mantra: “Great narratives show, they don’t tell.” When writing things you believe to be facts, ask yourself: How do I know? How can I qualify it? Then, qualify it in your words. Tell (Bad): The BMW E28 M5 is a rare car. Show (Good): Of the 722,328 E28 5-series sedans BMW built between 1981 and 1987, only 2,191 …Continue reading

Customer, Business, Technology, Organization (CBTO)

CBTO = Customer + Business + Technology + OrganizationContinue reading

Merit Badges – A Mental Model for Success

The concept of a Merit Badge comes from the Boy Scouts. The idea is that a scout can only earn a particular merit badge (actually a patch that gets sewn onto a vest) by demonstrating mastery of the skill or ability defined by the badge. For example, a scout would only receive the “Firemanship” badge by clearly demonstrating, repeatedly, the ability to start fires without matches. Merit Badges can come in all sizes. A small …Continue reading

Attention is the Currency of Leadership

Great leaders optimize how they spend their attention. They are skilled at turning up the heat to get others to focus their attention on the right things at the right times. Attention is the currency of leadership, and each person has a fixed amount of attention to spend. “Leaders have a fixed amount of attention units they can spend in a day, week, or year. Are you spending yours on the right things?” (A mentor …Continue reading

Have a Plan

Yesterday someone asked me to share my thoughts on the secret to building excellent things. I summarized what I know as: “Put the customer first, have a plan, create a shared mission, get early victories, remove process, and make it fun.” – me, yesterday. This was the formula my cohorts that built the Windows Phone app platform used. It worked. This is what the small team that created www.milelogr.com did. “No battle was ever won …Continue reading

Don’t Make Your Team Say No To You

Leaders are often visionary “idea people”. The difference between success and failure is how good these leaders are at training their teams to say No. Idea People often forget they are disrupting their own teams by voicing their ideas. If leaders don’t learn and practice skills for controlling the flow of ideas, their teams will fail. When I was building home networking for Windows at Microsoft, I learned getting a team to a focused plan, …Continue reading

Be as Excellent at Saying No as Saying Yes

While in Amman Jordan last month, I had the opportunity to speak at Amman Tech Tuesdays, a local startup event held every month there. I was asked to talk about what I’ve learned in my career to an audience of about 500 geeks and entrepreneurs. I decided to talk about focus, a topic dear to my heart. The title of the talk is “Be as Excellent at Saying No as Saying Yes”. Below the video …Continue reading

The Job Decision Matrix

A Job Decision Matrix will help identify what is actually important to you in your career (and life). Gaining clarity on what is important to you, right now, will help you identify new job opportunities, avoid wasting time on job opportunities that are not right for you, and make a job decision with conviction. This blog post is one of my oldest on leadership and by far the one I’ve gotten the most positive feedback …Continue reading

You are Thinking of Your Career Trajectory Wrong

Most people think about their career trajectory as being like a bell-curve or that of a cannon ball fired from a cannon. Something like this: For 99% of all successful people, this is completely the wrong way to think about it. For that other 1% (the Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerbergs of the world) it might work. For the rest of us, there’s a mental model that will help keep you sane, help you appreciate …Continue reading

90% of the Decisions You Make Don’t Matter

In my post The 5 Ps: Achieving Focus in Any Endeavor, I noted that “90% of the decisions you make don’t matter; real success comes in being able to identify the 10% that do and focus on those.” The best, most effective leaders can free their teams up to get stuff done by making lots of decisions quickly and enabling those decisions to stick. We all regularly hear criticisms of ineffective leadership voiced as “Decisions …Continue reading

The 5Ps: Achieving Focus in Any Endeavor

Always have a plan. Always. A great, simple, framework for any plan is the 5Ps:  Purpose, Principles, Priorities, People, and Plan. This framework applies to software development projects, job searches, building a garden, or a phase in your life. I have personally found the 5Ps a useful tool for small projects (e.g. prepping for a VC demo/presentation) as well as large-scale projects that include 1,000s of people. The 5Ps : Purpose, Principles, Priorities, People, and …Continue reading