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The Clarity Principle: How Great Leaders Make the Most Important Decision in Business (and What Happens When They Don't) by Chatham Sullivan

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3

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

John F. Kennedy is said to have described the camel as “a horse designed by a committee.” Leaving aside any slight on camels—which are beautifully evolved for their native climate—Kennedy wanted to make a point about the way committees make decisions. His point, which relates to a core problem explored in this book, is that organized efforts to satisfy competing agendas typically end up pleasing no one.

This is as true in business as it is in politics, architecture, or any number of other fields. A business can be one thing or another but will invariably suffer when it tries to be too many things at once. The unsatisfying in-between state of being “neither fish nor fowl” is likely to incur a variety of penalties. As we’ll ...

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