“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
What is the most important thing?
What is the one thing I should know about you?
What is the one idea (or word) that captures your brand?
If you could tell me one thing about your business/company, what would it be?
<fill in your own here>
I reject all of those questions.
This is my rejection of the one thing.
Nothing truly interesting is made up of one thing, but worse, once things get reduced to one aspect it becomes not ruthless simplicity, but rather a terrifying simplicity.
One thing degrades life by its very simplicity by making all activity subservient solely on the motives of the one thing.
One thing encourages a fanaticism about the means employed to reach a simplistic objective of uncertain wisdom to attaining a larger objective whether it be profitability or some greater good.
One thing devolves thinking rather than evolving it. Thinking, in the absence of freedom, will inevitably arc toward whatever fulfills the one thing at the expense of many of other things that could not only add value, but be OF value.
It is intellectual weakness.
Institutionalizing ‘one thing’ means institutionalizing lack of thought or non-responsibility. The one thing becomes the default for any, and every, decision. Creativity and freedom of thought is suffocated by the majority of non-risk taker, CYA people lurking in every hallway. People have no responsibility to anything but things in service of the one thing.
This institutionalizing reduces reality to one thing and one thing only. Everyone knows what to do – whatever produces that one thing; and you know what to avoid – whatever reduces the one thing. There is no confusion on the issue in any discussion of whether a particular action maybe conducive to a greater well being or moral aesthetic or cultural enrichment.
Having said that, one thing certainly fits perfectly within a ‘quantification world’, But it does so at the expense of appreciation of qualitative differences (and value). Measurable but of limiting, reductive, value.
This is a primitive world this ‘one thing.’ It is a reduction of reality under the guise of ‘quality’ while it is actually a tool of ‘consistent quantity.’ One thing is the industrialization of thought.
Yes. Sure. A number of people will stamp their feet indignantly and say “oh no, we do a lot more than that one thing (to a grander benefit than that one thing).” Familiar claims I know. Some justified, some not. Ok. Mostly not. Those ‘things’ (outside of the one thing) can be seen, if you look closely, to be bolted on to the ‘one-thing’ organization as exceptions, not the rule.
** note: while I may be a little harsh on well-intended activity I would note that bolts rust and the first things jettisoned are not the one thing but the things used to soften the one thing.
At its best, it is inefficient precision.
At its ‘not-worst, but bad’’ it creates a fragility to the business.
At its absolute worst it harms society in its pursuit of the one thing at the expense of other meaningful objectives (note: profit is the easiest business example of this).
The strength of one thing is its terrifying simplicity.
It suggests the totality of a brand, a business, a life, can be reduced to one aspect. And while the brand, business, life may be interested in other aspects – perhaps goodness, integrity, greater good, or even truth – as business people you concern yourself only with the one thing. You have no choice but to do so. Not being concerned with the one thing makes you, and your work/thinking/energy have a dubious ROI in the eyes of, well, the people in power and the “one-thingers.”
I reject one thing. We are an abundance of things and the highest value is achieved when not only embracing that multitude but articulating it well.
Of course there are exceptions, but, they are exceptions. Choosing one thing as a filter, not a destination, can have value if you seek coherence instead of consistency. I would point to Dr. Jason Fox’s “Choose One Word/Ritual of Becoming” programme or John Grant’s view on brand molecules/New marketing Manifesto as examples.