Rule of Three

The principle was introduced in the best-selling book, "Getting Results the Agile Way" by J. D. Meier.

In simple words, the "Rule of 3" is a simple way to get better results through clear vision broken down into critical actionables.

Why does it work?

  1. Helps avoid information overload.
  2. Emphasizes creating a long-term vision.
  3. Retains higher levels of control with the practitioner.
  4. Helps prioritize the right things and keep perspective.
  5. Lists of 3 are much easier to remember than larger ones.

How does this work?

  1. Start by defining three wins for the year. Your wins could be something like running a 10km marathon, getting a 40% pay hike, and taking three trips with the family.
  2. Now that you have three long-term wins, break them into smaller wins that you can achieve monthly. The long-term win of "Running a 10km marathon" could mean "Quitting Sugar" in January and "Run 3km marathon" in February.
  3. Now that you have monthly wins in mind, it is time to break them down into 4-5 weekly wins. For example, "Quitting Sugar" could be broken down into "Stop eating deserts" for week 1, "Stop drinking aerated drinks for week 2," etc.
  4. Further, break down weekly wins into daily wins. For example, "Stop eating deserts" could be broken down into "Remove all deserts from the fridge" for Monday, "Analyse the food labels" for Tuesday, etc.
  5. Finally, you can start going after them when you have daily goals.
  6. Stick to 3 goals per day and follow the same for the weekly, monthly, and yearly timeframes.

"Rule of 3" in action

Jane Doe wants to get better at aligning her long-term goals with her everyday activities, so she decides to get started with the "Rule of 3" principle.

She identifies the three big wins that would make the current year a success. One of the three wins is getting a 40% hike on her current salary.

She breaks down the path to this win into 12 smaller wins assigned to each month of the year.

The first month was about her getting recommended by her company peers on LinkedIn. Jane's consistently engaged with 36 stakeholders in her current role, so she decided that she would approach 9 of these stakeholders every week and ask them for a recommendation.

With her weekly goals/win set, she assigned her daily wins as "Approaching three stakeholders for recommendation" for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and "Follow up with past recommendation requests" for Thursday and Friday.

Now, Jane has a daily win that is aligned with her yearly win of getting a 40% hike on her salary. She repeats the process with her other two annual goals, giving her two more daily wins.

As time goes on, Jane can see consistent improvement and a sense of achievement. She evaluates the wins every week to identify opportunities to optimize them, but mostly, they remain pretty consistent.

Jane improves her profile, gets the required training, adds weight to the resume, and picks up excellent negotiation skills that lead her to that 40% hike.

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