How to be clear

This text is a republishing of this article on Medium by Charles Davies on how to be clear, who lectured at Kaospilots Switzerland about this topic.

For more information about his work, check his website Charles also offers mentoring via Skype!

His aim is to find a way of talking about how people work together that is so clear and natural and self-evident that it renders more contrived models of organisational design redundant.


It starts with understanding what work is.

Work is action that we carry out in order to meet our needs.

It’s not what we do 9 to 5. It’s not what we get paid for.

It’s not things we do that we don’t want to do but we have to do.

It’s anything where we do it with an end in sight, an intention, with the ambition to meet a need.

It starts with understanding what passion is.

Passion is the feeling of an unmet need that drives us to take action.

It starts with understanding what a vision is.

A vision is a way of defining the work necessary to meet a need.

A vision tells us what is in and what is out.

It starts with understanding what a need is.

A need is the thing where when it’s done, you know you’re done.

It’s the gap.

The gap between where you are and being satisfied. The differential. The motivation. The purpose. The intention. The goal. The desired outcome.

Call it what you like.

When there’s a need, there’s a reason to work.

When there’s no need, there’s no reason to work.

It starts with understanding what starting is.

Starting is the moment when we move from the limitless realm of passion and vision and take action to bring something into reality.

It starts with understanding what authority is.

When you start something, when you have a vision and you take the step to commit to bringing it into the world, then you are the author of that idea, the author of that action.

As the author, you have a special connection to the vision, to the work.

Your job is to hold on to the vision, express it — and be clear about what is in and what is out.

It starts with understanding what help is.

Help is when someone else is doing work that meets a need you have. (or where the work you are doing meets a need someone else has).

These are the fundamentals of how work works when work works.

Someone has a vision and takes the initiative to bring it into the world. and as the author of that vision, they know what helps and what doesn’t.


If you have a vision, but you have forgotten what need it is serving

If you’re working on something, but don’t know who started it

If you’re working on something but don’t know why it was started

If you’re working for someone else, but forget why it serves you

If you’re working for someone else, but they don’t need your help

If you’re working for someone else, but they’re pretending they didn’t start it

If you’re working for someone else, but they’re pretending they did start it

When people stop talking about working together and start talking about organisations, things get complicated.

When people start talking about vision, but forget to talk about passion, things get complicated.

When people start to talk about collaboration, but stop talking about who is helping who with what, things get complicated.

When people start talking about who they are, not what they’re doing, things get complicated.

When things are clear, you know who started something, what their need is, what they’re passionate about, what their vision is, you know what they have authority over and what help they need.

When things aren’t clear, the passion gets lost, so there’s no energy.

The vision gets lost, so there’s no direction.

For everything to be clear, everyone has to stay connected to vision and passion.

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