Tips for Writing a Great ONE Application
A great ONE application is clear, concise, logical and well-written. Most importantly, it effectively addresses the topics critical to a successful examination, while making the most of the space allowed ó a limit of two pages for the Organization Profile, and six total pages for the response to category criteria (total of eight pages for a complete application). Follow these tips when developing your application.
Read and understand the complete Criteria. Take time to understand the whole picture of what you as the applicant are expected to share. Seek clarification if you donít understand the requirements of the criteria.
Review the Glossary of Key Terms first to understand the criteria terminology. Make sure that you understand the questions by understanding the terminology. This will keep your responses on track.
“What” and “How” questions are posed. There are only two types of questions in the criteria. “What” questions seek basic information about the approach you take to the requested content area of the criteria. “How” questions seek to understand the deployment of your approach.
Work as a team. It is difficult for one person to have all the answers and insights. Engage others in the thinking, writing and reviewing processes.
Start early. You will need to review and improve the text/information as you develop your application. You will greatly benefit from others review and feedback. Make sure you allow time for this process.
Be focused. Eight pages provide very limited space. Be very focused in your responses to the criteria. Expect that you will need to make cuts to your draft to reach this page limit. You will need to prioritize what to say and determine how to communicate in the most effective fashion.
Make sure you emphasize your performance results in each category. Make sure that you allocate space and information accordingly. Don’t just state that results are good and/or improving — include the actual results data.
Be frank and honest. Don’t oversell, but make sure not to sell yourself short. This application should communicate “what is” not “what the examiners/selectors want us to be.”
There are no perfect organizations. The ultimate honorees will still have many areas and opportunities for improvement. Don’t be discouraged by identifying where you may fall “short” — this is where the true benefit of the process emerges. You are identifying where you need to take action to strengthen your organization.
Stick to the criteria. Beware of communicating what you want to tell the examiners rather than responding to the criteria questions. Examiners are instructed to focus on responses to the criteria as they conduct their assessment and provide feedback.
Answer the “bold” questions. The expectations of the examiners are that you will respond to the bold questions in each category. The numbered questions below the bold questions are designed to help you think through and focus your responses. Don’t answer these as a checklist, but make sure that you include information that will help the examiner understand how you address each facet of the bold question.
Focus on the questions before you provide the answers. Don’t just dive into the response without thinking through what is being asked. Engage your team in this process, and then engage them in “brainstorming” the potential priorities to include in your response.
Complete the Organizational Profile before you move into the Category responses. This is the foundation upon which the examiners will review your responses. Make sure that you have provided a clear and concise picture of your organization. You will be amazed at how much you and your team learn about your varied understanding of your own organization. Count this as a major step forward in your organization’s development.
Communicate at the 5,000 foot level. Don’t just jump into examples prior to explaining your overall approach. Examples provide insight into the application of your approach. Make sure that you explain your systematic approach prior to giving any example in practice.
Share examples. Brief examples help the examiner see that what you say you do actually gets done. Share examples, but make sure that you do so in a concise fashion to save space.
Use varied methods to communicate information. Combine text, charts and tables, etc. to communicate information in an economical fashion and provide the examiners with an easily understandable and readable document.
Ask an outsider to review your application for understanding. You know exactly what you meant by every statement and every response that you provided. You know what you want the examiner to understand. But remember, the examiners don’t share your intimate knowledge of your organization. The burden falls upon you to make sure that the information is clear and easily understood. Use an outside resource to help you identify where more clarity or explanation is required.