Podcast #319 – Karen Martin on the Importance of “Clarity First”


My guest for Episode #319 is Karen Martin, whose most recent book is Clarity First: How Smart Leaders and Organizations Achieve Outstanding Performance. She was previously a guest on Episodes #151, #190, and #285.

Karen is an author of many books on Lean, quality, and performance excellence. She is also a speaker and a consultant with a B.S. in Microbiology from Pennsylvania State University and an M.A. in Education from California State University, Bakersfield. Read her full bio.

What is clarity? How can we work toward creating less fog and more clarity in organizations? We'll talk about that, along with a bit of discussion about clarity in metrics, as I write about in my book Measures of Success.

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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/319.

For earlier episodes of my podcast, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS, through Android appsor via Apple iTunes.  You can also subscribe and listen via Stitcher.

Topics and notes for this episode:

  • Find Karen online:
  • Karen's new book
  • What is Clarity? Concise and easy to understand…
  • Are leaders sometimes not comfortable with clarity?
  • Clarity is clearly better than ambiguity, right?
  • Medical errors in healthcare… lack of knowledge about this, ambiguity about it
  • What recommendations does Karen have to help shift from ambiguity to clarity in these areas?
    • Purpose
    • Priorities
    • Process
    • Performance
    • People
  • Is there a lack of clarity around the connections between process and performance?
  • How can we gain more clarity around the question of what to measure?
  • How there's not clarity in tables of tables or grids of numbers, where there's more clarity in charts and graphs
  • You can't blame somebody for what they haven't been taught
  • Can a company just ask people to have a high level of comfort with ambiguity? Is that a plus to have a high tolerance for ambiguity?
  • Ambiguity vs. uncertainty?
  • What books are next for each of us?

Videos of Karen on Clarity:

Thanks for listening!


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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