50 Shades of Overkill

Posted on 5th Mar 2015

A meme is a trend that hits human conciousness and travels across our communications virally. Social media and memes go hand in hand, with recent examples including a coloured dress and a weasel flying on the back of a woodpecker.

One of the biggest memes in the last year or so has been 50 Shades of Grey. The book and subsequent film caught the imagination of many, but the idea of 50 Shades crossed over into other forms of communication. Countless Powerpoint presentations started with a slide proclaiming '50 Shades of Communication' or '50 Shades of Data Entry'. It found its way into internal presentations and external communications such as press releases. There were even some examples of government communications featuring the meme, although in fairness MPs and bondage is not a new story.

There is some appeal in using a phrase that contains a bit of harmless controversy. It will create engagement and make people tune in. However, the 50 Shades concept is very useful in a business context and that has also contributed to its popularity. There is a tendency in today's fast-paced business environment to try to reduce choices to binary A or B, black or white, this or that. This can be useful; it saves times and makes decisions easier to make. Reduce the options to two and compare them. However, it falls down when the focus of the decision is people. People are more complex and when you treat them as binary functions then, inevitably, you risk trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Personality profiling such as Belbin is a very good way of looking into the different shades of people. Critics of personality profiling often say that it attempts to simplify people, who are infinitely complex. Actually it attempts to help us to understand the complexity of people, and to give us tools to help us to manage. People can be complex, but everyone has preferences and if you drive people towards their preferences they will be happy, while driving them away from them creates unhappiness and stress.

Contact us to discuss the illuminating and entertaining team development events that we run. We combine insight with fun activities which embed the ideas that we discuss during the event. The end result is better understanding of colleagues which translates to more effective teamwork. 

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