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Nix Ambiguity and Focus for Lasting Change

| January 24, 2012

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading is a short piece “Nix Ambiguity and Focus for Lasting Change” by Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, as well as Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

In this piece, a true story about eliminating narcotics abuse in a health-care network serving Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, the Heath brothers make two major points:

1.  Clarity in setting goals begets actions.  (Heidi Grant Lalvorson made this same point in “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently,” our reading for December 20, 2011.)

2.  That complex, ambiguous goals can be broken into a set of specific steps each of which is actionable.

Dan and Chip Heath note that every goal, no matter how ambitious, proceeds via a series of specific steps.  They say it this way:  “So, if you are leading a change, know that ambiguity is your enemy.  Focus on breaking down the play.  If you kill the fog, you’ll bring those distant mountains closer.”

So, the next time you face a significant change, begin by eliminating the ambiguity.


.  .  .  .  .     jim