You Can Only Choose Three

I agree with Warren Bennis, one of our great business scholars, when he says “Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality.”  You’ve been working on your company’s direction and strategy.  You’ve done a good job of taking an honest assessment of your current situation and you’ve also painted a vibrant picture of the future.  Now it’s time to complete the gap analysis and create a list of potential transformational initiatives.  You and your leadership team have to buckle down and make some hard decisions. It’s time to take action and build toward your vision of the future.

Let me warn you however, that the choices get harder because now you have to pick only three.  Just three transformational initiatives out of the myriad of options you uncovered during your planning session.  These will be the three changes that will really drive value going forward.

The Rule of Three

Why choose only three TIs? Why not choose seven, eight, or ten? Why not just work off the candidate TIs and call it a day? There are two reasons why you should only choose three.

First, the biggest problem for many midmarket companies is a lack of focus. Many midmarket executives have so many things on their plate that they don’t know where to start. If you and your team pick just three and focus on those three main initiatives, your probability of completing each and subsequently adding real value to your company goes through the roof. If you choose seven to ten initiatives, chances are that a year from now you’ll still be working on the same seven or ten incomplete initiatives.

The other reason is a bit more esoteric. One of the tricks of effective communications is the “rule of three.” You’ve heard it all your life: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Mind, body, and soul.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In fact, your mother probably used your first, middle, and last name when she had a TI she wanted you to work on!

As a leader, your job is to constantly talk up your three initiatives. Having just three will allow you, your team, and the entire company to focus on specific tasks, and it will help you create a shared vision for your company.

When considering which TIs to choose, start with this question:

Will it actually add value to the organization?

It’s easy to get so caught up in the exercise that you forget the desired end result – adding value to the company.  So don’t lose sight of what this work is all about – choosing the right TIs.  Think of a funnel. All of the potential candidate TIs go in, and the only three that come out are the ones that will add real business value.

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