Brad Keywell

Two Pillars for Effective Remote Work: Asynchronous Clarity & Visible Value

We are ten months into
this everlong 2020.


One hundred and thirty years ago, a German playwright first coined the phrase “Spring Awakening” as the title of his breakthrough play, first performed in 1891. It’s a phrase that comes to mind. It’s lingered in mine since March. This fall, our world is still awakening from this spring, although the “what” to which we are awakening is still not yet clear.

When the scope of the pandemic was first coming into sight, I asserted the high value of focused action on that which is in our control. Things that are in our control:
  1. Strengthen us to better respond to that which is out of our control
  2. Reflect a bias to action (while focusing too much on what’s outside our control may leave us feeling helpless)
  3. Enable the continued pursuit of excellence of that which we already control well

I believe there’s a fourth phase that’s coming into focus. That phase, completely in our control, is asynchronous clarity and visible value. These are structural principles that will make all of us better at what we do — better individual effectiveness, better team productivity, clearer demonstration of value, and more. And the pursuit of excellence in asynchronous clarity and visible value is not limited by working remotely  — in fact, it may even be enhanced by remoteness.

Let me define the two terms as I see them.
  • Asynchronous clarity speaks to easily understanding:
    • what your role contributes to the productivity of your team
    • how your team’s productivity relates to other parts of your organization
    • how each team plugs (or APIs, as Jeff Bezos established at Amazon in 2002!) into the input of other teams
    • how the organization creates powerful products or services to delight its customers
    • the “user manual” for your organization, which allows people settling into remote work and new hires to easily and optimally leverage each component of the organization (in this respect, “components” are functions of your organization, from customer advocacy to its data to HR/benefits utilization to marketing presentations)

  • Visible Value speaks to the obvious clarity of value — to your colleagues, to your organization, to your customers, and more.
    • At your standups and team meetings, I challenge you to explore how to make more clearly visible the value you create.
    • More visible value to the team, to the organization, and ultimately to your customers can pave the way for organic relationships across teams without having to revert back to square one. What do you do and why is it important?

The more asynchronous clarity in your organization, the higher your velocity of improvement, as you’ll have made it easier for yourself and your colleagues to act as one (resulting in less dependence on internal meetings and more on the expansive, frictionless leverage of operational excellence and expertise).

The more visibly valuable you, your team, and organization are, the easier it will be to attract new prospects and support current customers in a remote environment.

It’s now fall, and while we may not be certain about the “new normal” or when we will be able to hit play on this “Great Pause,” we’re awakening to higher levels of possibility given the strength of our foundations to work collaboratively. If we can awaken to our capacity for action in pursuit of improved asynchronous clarity and the visibility of value, the extraordinary result will be a culture of hustle and trust.

Read the full FastCompany article on how leaders need to embrace speed, uphold decency, and explore new ways to connect.


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© Brad Keywell 2021