3 Ways Leaders Can Clear the Clutter

When you live surrounded by clutter, it is impossible to have clarity about what you are doing in your life.  ~Karen Kingston

clutterIt’s spring, which means it’s time to clean and clear the clutter.  The quote today is from a Feng Shui expert and refers to our physical clutter. I think there are at least three ways that we can use physical clutter as a metaphor for organizational clutter that leaders can clear and create healthier organizations.

  1. Beginning with Kingston’s quote, leaders many times create a lot of organizational clutter that makes it difficult, or even impossible, for employees to have clarity of purpose and priorities. This kind of clutter could include not prioritizing enough.  Employees are told that everything is a priority, so really that means nothing is a priority.  Consequently, employees make their own individual prioritization decisions.  Then leaders wonder why efforts aren’t more in sync across the organization and nothing seems to be moving forward.
  2. Another physical organization expert, Cynthia Kyriazis, said “clutter is symptomatic of delayed decision making.” Also very true in organizations.  Clutter, like layers upon layers of bureaucracy that create bottlenecks, and decisions take far too long to get made.  Ask yourself, in your organization are decisions being made at the lowest level possible, or do many decisions have to make their way up several layers before they can be made?
  3. Author Gretchen Rubin, who is on a continual quest for simplicity, said “If you’ve had something for more than six months, and it’s still not repaired, it’s clutter.” How many processes or systems are in your organization and haven’t been “working” for more than six months?  Those processes and systems have become organizational clutter.

In his book The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni identifies five attributes that constitute a healthy organization: minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, and low turnover.  Sounds to me like these organizations are healthy because the leaders have made intentional and deliberate efforts to clear the organizational clutter.

It’s spring!  What clutter do you need to clear in your organization?

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