Rules of three and the more action you take, the more you want to take action

Inaction can be good but is usually not conducive to a winning strategy. So why do we fail to take action and what kinds of actions help us and our organizations most?

With so many choices, so many possibilities and possible outcomes inaction is one likely outcome: you are so overwhelmed that you spend an inordinate amount of time just pondering on what might be best. Hence my experience of the rule of three, that you try your best to reach with your team three possible options to choose from. That is manageable, if you have 26 possibilities it will take much longer to take any action and often just be sitting there evaluating and not doing anything.

One method to quickly reduce options down to three (besides being lazy and stopping at the first three ideas for action that come to mind) is to be very sharply clear about the purpose of the team, the why and also the how, the way in which the organization is expected to behave. Only the options that do something to fulfil the purpose of the company and that are aligned with the how, the values of the company should be accepted as options.

Formula 1 team owner Frank Williams famously had a great way to make quick decisions: every time he received an invoice he asked “will paying this invoice make my car go faster?” Yes = he agreed , No = he did not agree.

Minimalists mention a way to get rid of excess: every day get rid of one thing. It is easy to achieve and it creates a habit. It becomes a surprisingly effective way to want to do more, to want to take more actions.
Part of the trigger to action is that it is 1. easy, it is 2. doable and it is 3. satisfying: an object was there and is now no longer there cluttering my space with minimum effort. So that other rule of three is another great motivator and one you can try and implement in your team. Depending on your team you might wish to substitute 1. easy with 1. challenging as it might be a better motivator for a high performance team.

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