At the law firm Gowith & Theflow LLC, entrepreneurial thinking was key. The goal was always obliviously and ruthlessly to sell the maximum amount of time to a client in any given matter. There was no room for simple solutions. Simple was straightforward, easy to understand and implement, and therefore less profitable. Every piece of advice had to be sophisticated, convoluted, complex. If a client asked a Gowith & Theflow attorney a clear-cut salient question, the standard answer was: "It depends." Every contract had to be written in unfathomable language, with definitions and sentences stretching over lines and paragraphs and pages, with countless relative insertions that made it impossible to understand the meaning upon a first (and sometimes a second and a third) reading.

At G&T, as the firm was referred to, distinction without difference was an art form. The goal was not only to be very precise and detailed, but to be precise and detailed to the point that the client could not read the contract without the help of a GT, i.e. not a Gin & Tonic, but a Gowith & Theflow attorney, interpreting it. Each associate had been relentlessly trained not only to find the fly in the ointment, but to then take the fly's hair and split it. The firm's golden rule was: "We have a problem for every solution!"

“So you just want us to come up with some values”? Irene Adler, Sandy Birdie, Jackie Sparrow and Madeleine Swan, four senior associates, were by equal turns proud and wary that GT Senior Partner Gervais Highbottom had seemingly hand-picked them for this task. 

“Yes, we’re launching the new website on the fourth day of Christmas and we need some values. It would be great if you could form a committee to determine what our values are and do a short write-up for the comms folks”. One thought crossed the minds of all four senior associates: What if we don't find any? But they all were senior enough to know that in a law firm like Gowith & Theflow, it was not always a good idea to practice freedom of speech, and after all, freedom of speech only allows you to speak out freely, it does not really shelter you from despicable consequences.

So the four calling birds, as the group soon was named, met one night to get the job done.
Irene, blessed with almost limitless self-confidence, led off the discussion by saying: "I propose that we first analyze our old website to see what we currently have and then go from there."

"Wait!" said Sandy. "We risk being unduly influenced by whatever is currently there. This is a fresh beginning, a greenfield approach. We should not go for an evolution, we should strive for a revolution. After all, if we as four senior associates cannot devine any real values from our own hearts, that is pretty telling."

The group was off to a bumpy start, and it did not get any better.

"I propose quality." "No way, you only mention quality if you have a problem with it. Quality is a given. Okay, at least, it should be. In any event, we cannot mention that."

"How about integrity?" "Sounds nice, but it limits our business case and intimidates the less open amongst the esteemed clients of the firm."

"What do you think about 'creative?'" "That means a loose cannon unaware of established solutions."

"How about 'approachable'?" "Sounds idle, unsuccessful and desperate for work."

"Teamwork?" "Implies that you always end up with too many associates on a call."

"Diversity?" "That is like a red rag to a bull for the firm's old boys' club clients."

"Togetherness?" "Welcome to the boy-scouts! Would you mandate milquetoasts huddling together when lightning strikes?"

"Fully-integrated!" "Best accompanied by a picture of Karl Marx? That is too much egalitarianism!"

"Kind?" "Depicts softies lacking the necessary adversarial aggressivity!"

"'Young'?" "Inexperienced."

"Modern?" "Untested."

This went on for hours and hours, with the result that they were all exhausted, disenchanted and confused beyond belief. The stringent education of the four associates had taken its toll. They really had a problem for every solution and could not agree on anything.

"Maybe we have approached this from the wrong angle." Jackie Sparrow mused. "What are we trying to achieve here?"

"To be frank, this is a marketing stunt. The firm wants to get as many clients as possible. And the website should help, or at least not hinder it. Everyone reading the website should feel reassured.", Madeleine Swan replied.

"Exactly! And what do we normally respond to a straightforward question?" The other three exclaimed in chorus: "It depends!"

"Right! That means, we need to formulate our values in a way that it basically means: It depends."

On the fourth day of Christmas, the new website went online, with the following value statement: "We share the values of our clients, whatever they are."