“The Rule of Threes”
A timeless management principle that still works!
I recently read an interesting article about a focusing technique I’ve used for years called the “Rule of Three’s”. If you watch for it, you’ll find it to be prevalent in business, politics, religion and life. For instance: “I came, I saw, I conquered….. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”….Stop, Look and Listen…..”Responsibility, Authority, Accountability”…..Better, Faster, Cheaper
The “Rule of Three’s” is a powerful tool that can help bring clarity and organization to complicated situations. Why? Because the human brain is wired to process information in patterns. The smallest, most easily memorized pattern has three elements.
Here’s a few practical examples: As a board member, when you hear a strategic plan presentation, ask, “What are the three elements of the plan that will have the most impact? What are three potential threats that could derail the plan? What contingency plans should we have in place to counter these threats?” In assessing priorities for the company, ask, “What are the three priorities that really matter, and how do we communicate them?”
The Rule of Threes can apply to individual, and team behaviors you’re looking for. Things such as passion, courage and tenacity. Using the rule of threes, people can contribute through their team behaviors by being mindful, being likable and rooting for the person next door.
In looking for potential successors, you want to be mindful of IQ, EQ and Values. Of the three, “Values” are the hardest to assess. Being trustworthy is only part of values. Three character questions to ask in assessing values are: “Will he do the right thing, even if it means personal sacrifice?” If no one says “thank you” after she did the right thing, will it matter to her, or not? After winning, will he continue to show humility, keep learning and build energy for future wins?
In searching for leaders, look for people who are “liked, trusted and respected”. It’s common for leaders to have two of the three. The few who have all three are people who can add real value to an organization.
In selecting people for your field force, (for that matter, any job), look for “will, skill and fit”.
Three worthy goals to think about for frequent discussion with employees are sales, profit and culture. For example, grow sale to double-digits; drive margins to double-digits by 20_ _; lets build a special, high-performance culture based on honesty, engagement and job ownership.
You can use the Rule of Threes to simplify, prioritize and to communicate. Focusing on three big objectives can help leaders create clarity, foster employee engagement and accomplish objectives that really matter.
In this digital age, there can be a tendency to declare old management principles obsolete. Some, however, are timeless. The human mind is wired to work naturally with the “Rule of Threes.” If you haven’t already done so, try it. I’ll bet you’ll be astounded