What 3 things are you trying to control?

Posted on October 16, 2008. Filed under: Business, Management, Observations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

According to the United States Marine Corps, 3 is the magic number.  The Marine corps operates on the rule of three’s.  Each leader is only responsible for three units at any one time.

This got me thinking, how many things are you trying to control at once.  Do you ever manage to control more than three successfully, do you ever manage as many as three at once?

If I think about my day today, I am trying to build out our marketing plan, seeking new partners, seeking new customers, thinking about tomorrow’s blog entry, waiting for responses from potential vendors, getting organized for Innotech-Austin.  In other words more than three things.  Which begs the question am I doing any of them effectively? I see lots of posts, tweets and comments that contain remarks about how busy everyone is at the moment.

What if I determined at the beginning of the day that I was only going to focus on three things that day, but really focus on them. Would I be better at them, would I get better results?

There seem to be no end of self-help business management books, websites and blogs out there all with their own recipe for how to achieve success, or to build effective habits.  I am sure some of them work.  But trying to take those on, wouldn’t that be one of my three things?

I like the simplicity of the rule of three’s, I don’t have to think about it too much, I don’t have to learn any complex matrix formats into which I have to push my work day.  Do effective things have to be complex?  Or is that just a myth perpetuated by business schools?  That’s not meant as a knock at business schools, I just wonder at the sometimes extremely complex solutions that come from some of my colleagues. 

But perhaps therein lies the problem, perhaps the rule of three’s isnt complex enough. Perhaps it over-simplifies very complex issues.   I would counter that by saying its possible to utilize the rule of three’s even for even extremely complex thought processes.  By breaking them down into sets of three problems, clearly identifying individual stages and grouping those by like, related, associated or dependent problems.  Revisiting my day, perhaps I should focus on only three prospects today, only three vendor solutions, and three blog topics as a short-list.

Of course the question is how I organize the other things on my to do list under those three things in not more than groups of three.  Now my simple system is starting to sound increasingly complex! Or perhaps thats the point, I am, like so many others, trying to do too much.  Perhaps this is what the rule of three’s can teach us, once you get beyond trying to control three things you are trying to do too much. So fall back, regroup, reorganize and refocus. 

So if you were only going to try and control three things today what would they be?

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