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Passion, pride, honesty, integrity – these are just some of the values one hears in those team conversations where groups discuss what values are desirable in their teams. Now as someone who has facilitated many of said conversations, I should not make light of them, however I do continually question the efficacy of them. Are they game-changing sessions, or are they cliché fests? Or perhaps somewhere in between.

In some recent work with a business I was privy to their list of desirable leadership traits – all 3 sections of them! Well thought-out, absolutely. Memorable – no! In my extensive work with sporting teams I have also seen the good old powerpoint slide of values that gets churned out at the start of a season much to the coach’s delight that he/she has ticked the ‘culture’ box. So what might be a better way?

We live in the age of 140 characters, hashtags and emojis. We live in the age of information overload. What people want is something that cuts through the clutter, something that stands out, something that is memorable, and most of all, something that excites them. If you are running a team or organisation you have to be thinking in tweets and hashtags, not paragraphs and lists.

If one thinks of biblical stories, aesops fables and famous ancient philosophers ideas, most of them have stood the test of time because of their simplicity, the depth of story that they tell and that they just talk about one thing. Our needs haven’t changed, we have just found a way to complicate things in the spirit of looking clever.

The ‘One Thing’ idea is something that has traction in the modern world. The one thing has to be suitably emotive, easy to understand, easy to relate to and most of all have a requisite set of actions that are easily associated with it.

Simon Sinek in his now famous teamtalk speaks about companies ‘starting with the why’, but aside from the merits of that, look at how popular that talk alone was – this is because he spoke about one thing!

As you read this, and consider what your ‘one thing’ may be, be mindful that this one thing requires a lot of thought, real depth and a good session with the cliché police before it is the right one for your team. But when you get it, it is amazing how powerful it can be for your entity.


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