What to emphasise

Mike Dunleavy, coach of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team said this in an interview:

I learned way back that you can't emphasize everything because you can't get it done; you can only emphasize certain things. One thing I wanted us to do was to shoot free throws better. We don't miss a day of shooting them, we keep track of them and the last two years we've been either No. 1 or No. 2 in the league in scoring points on free throws.

This resonated with me, as its something I’ve learnt over the last year or so. It’s no good telling your team fifty things, they’ll only remember five. So pick the most important points and make sure they get through. Later, you can get to the others. This is actually a good thing, as it makes you assess what is most important, and you can get satisfaction in the gradual progress of your team.

Update 23-Jan-06: It strikes me that this idea of selecting the most important issues to highlight and making gradual progress also has a lot in common with iterative development techniques, where the most important use cases are delineated first.  The everything up-front model is the old waterfall model, and as the quote above suggests, can be confusing and ineffective.