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Blog : When less is most definitely more


When less is most definitely more

By Mary-Jane Flanagan, Training Director

We seem to be living in an era of information overload; 30 page user guides for buying a tiny piece of equipment, acceptance speeches that thank everyone including God and their dog and organisations performance managing their people through the use of standard operating procedures and manuals so large that they make War and Peace look like a light read!

Psychologist Edward Thorndike discussed the law of primacy and recency in 1920 stating that as humans we remember the first or last thing we hear or read but zone out in the middle – when was the last time you read a four page email from start to finish and remembered all the messages?

So it was with a smile I read about the Webby Awards this week , the Oscars of the internet world. In true social media style, they asked all of the winners to limit their speeches to just five words; resulting in a series of witty, creative sound bites that many will remember for some time to come.

‘Person of the Year’ was awarded to IBM’s super computer, Watson,  who responded electronically saying “person of the year, ironic”, while the creator of gaming application, Angry Birds, received his trophy and said “stay angry, get those pigs!” Even the editor in chief of fashion magazine, Vogue, got in on the act and said “Sometimes geek can be chic!”

The business world can learn from this approach and use the five word tool to reinforce key messages across organisations. My top ten would be:

  1. Leadership - an action not position
  2. Smile, more customers like it
  3. Teamwork makes life much easier
  4. Keep showing  attention to detail
  5. Your customers pay your wages
  6. Be positive today - it works
  7. Live  and breathe our values
  8. Be the best you today
  9. Care about what you do
  10. Show pride in your work

Try using this in your business; buy a pack of blank postcards and some mutli-coloured pens and ask every team member to take a standard procedure or process and write a five word sentence to help others remember. You could give a prize for the best one. Ask the team to sign the postcard and then make a ‘notice board of fame’ where all the postcards could be displayed for everyone to see. Colourful, creative and an inexpensive way to reinforce best practice.

What would your favourite five word sentence be?

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