George Miller wrote a classic paper in 1956 titled, “The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information.” In it, he argued that there was a limit to what our short-term memory could hold and that limit, for most people, seems to be around 7 plus or minus two. That is between 5 and 9.

A lot of research since then has supported his position.

An Application of this principle:

When I created core values for our nonprofit orphan care organization and wanted staff members and kids to remember it easily, how many did I choose? Seven!

You will find this notion taught in a lot of leadership literature. When creating a document like core values, don’t exceed 10. Better yet, keep them between 5 and 9.

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