Think in Threes to Simplify Your Business

Think in threesKeeping things simple helps you stay focused, and it helps your team stay focused. Thinking in threes is an effective technique that can help you distill things down to their core essence. It’s a powerful way to simplify your thinking.

There’s something magic about the number three. But truth be told, ending up with precisely three items is less important than the clear thinking that results from the process. So as you go through this process, if you come up with two or four items, you’ve likely achieved the outcome.

Here’s how thinking in threes works. Ask three straightforward questions:

Question #1: What are the three key elements that tell us the story we need to understand?

For example:

  • If we’re simplifying your company’s scorecard, what are the three metrics that will help us keep our finger on the pulse of the business?
  • If we’re creating a new vision for your company, what are the three Core Values that tell your company’s story?
  • If we’re trying to increase customer satisfaction, what are the three processes we need to change?

Question #2: How can you distill things down to three common themes?

The second to ask yourself is, of the ten or the twelve or the fifteen items that we have, can they be organized under three main headings without losing significant meaning or impact? The answer to this is virtually always yes.  

Let’s take your scorecard, for example. You might have fifteen items on there. Let’s use thinking in threes to step back and ask, “How could we organize this scorecard in a better way to make it more meaningful and relevant and easier to interpret?”

Depending on your priorities, we could put your statistics in three major buckets, like:

  • Sales and marketing
  • Operations
  • Finance

We might also use the thinking in threes framework when working through your Issues list. Often times, Issues Lists start to grow and you may end up with 40+ items. You’ll find it much easier to tackle them if you can divide them into three broad categories, like:

  • Seriousness
  • Urgency
  • Growth

Question #3: Which three things would have the biggest impact?

For the final question, ask yourself where you could get the biggest bang for your investment of time and energy.

For example, ask yourself, "If you could only measure, communicate, execute or invest in three things, which three would have the biggest impact?"

No doubt, it’s a bit of a struggle to distill these ideas down to three. However, we’ve successfully used this technique countless times to help our clients and business owners and leaders to focus their energy on just a few initiatives with incredible impact.

Ultimately, you don’t want to lose focus on the outcome. Thinking in threes will help you create simple, memorable, focused frameworks for plans, values, metrics and more.

Albert Einstein was right when he said:
“If you can’t explain something simply, you simply don’t understand it well enough.” 

If you can’t distill your business and its elements down to their simplest form, you don’t understand your business well enough. Thinking in threes will help you get there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *