The one thing you can do

I am often asked, “What’s the one thing I can do?” My return question is most usually, “To do what?” Because it depends.

Sometimes there is one thing. More usually there are a series of one things. But we seem to be hard-wired in organisations to look for a silver bullet. Business books and magazines are full of “one thing” prescriptions.

That one thing that will deliver customers through the door, increase sales of products and services, keep employees happy and engaged, have people talking about you in a good way…

To look for the one thing that can do all of those other things let’s take a look at why it might not be working now.

Customers can only come through the door if they know you are out there and the door is open. Yes, marketing matters and not just marketing communications, but marketing.

Sales of products and services will only increase if they solve a problem (even a problem I didn’t know I had). Oh, and looking great and being easy to use doesn’t hurt either.

Happy and engaged employees don’t appear out of thin air, they are the result of a good environment and a strong culture. Don’t have either of those things and you can expect a steady stream of unhappy, disengaged people leaving.

The news is full of people talking about organisations in a bad way. The microscope has never been greater. Scrutiny is to be expected. So why do so many organisations still make like it’s the 1970s? People will hold you to what you say and whether you sit on top of the ASX or Fortune lists or run the local dry cleaners, what you do will get out. Does anyone really believe otherwise?

There are lots of other one things that people are trying to do in their organisations and reasons why they aren’t working now. The funny thing I’ve discovered over the years is there is one “one thing” you can do that will have a positive impact on them all that doesn’t get talked about enough…

Keep your promises.

All of them: The ones in your marketing, the ones about your products and services, the ones to your employees, the ones built into what you do. And all the others I haven’t listed here.

That’s your one thing (or maybe I should call it the silver bullet).

See you next week.

Michel is an independent adviser and advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan


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