26 1We are often seduced by overstating. We believe doing busy presentations will make us look smarter; sophisticated action plans – self-motivated; endless reporting sheets – more analytical, and long speeches – more visionary. It provides us the comfort of playing it safe, avoiding being vulnerable by hiding behind numbers, graphs and bullet points.
 
But the truth is that people usually have way more choices and way less time or attention span for all of these. Usually they need just a clear one-page description of what you have to share with them. After all, there are a few things, if not a single one, that are more important than everything else. And even if there are multiple big priorities, ultimately one of those has to be at the very top. The point here is that if you want to create a sense of alignment and focus, you must have a very limited number of top priorities within a given period of time. It is very evident in case of crisis. You aren't going to find two nurses debating to which cost center to allocate the bill while a patient in the ER is hemorrhaging blood.
 
This phenomenon is best captured in that wonderful adage, "If everything is important, nothing is."
 
This is essential when the management team needs to identify and communicate business strategy and priorities (on company or team level, it doesn't matter). According the leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni to build clarity and common understanding and engagement we all need strategic anchors that match the following criteria:
 
Singular: One thing has to be most important, even if there are other worthy goals under consideration.
 
Qualitative: The thematic goal should almost never be established with specific numbers attached to it. The opportunity for putting quantitative measures around a thematic goal comes later, and it should not be done too early because it can too narrowly prescribe what needs to be achieved and limit people's ability to rally around it.
 
Temporary: A thematic goal must be achievable within a clear time boundary, almost always between three and twelve months. Anything shorter than three months feels like a fire drill, and anything longer than twelve invites procrastination and skepticism about whether the goal will endure. (I'll wait a few months to focus on that because it will probably change, and, who knows, I might not even be working here then.)
 
Shared across the leadership team: When executives agree on their top priority, they must take collective responsibility for achieving it, even if it seems that the nature of the goal falls within one or two of the executives' regular areas of ownership.
Jim Collins emphasizes that one of the strategic difference between the good-to-great and comparison companies lays in adopting the Hedgehog Concept - a simple, crystalline concept around what you are the best at, what are you passionate about and what drives your economic engine. Hedgehogs companies simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides actions.
 
So when we are about to have our next presentation, no need to fool ourselves into considering sophisticated is smart, but give people a reason to listen to us – the significant, meaningful and comprehensive idea that is our number one priority at the moment and that's worthy for others to care of. And remember – the most influential TED talks are less than 15 minutes long.
 
Best regards,
Violeta

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