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Rule of Three

January 2, 2012
Performance management and rules of three

Performance management and rules of three

The number of objectives that an individual should be expected to manage is a challenge for organizational leaders. To reach the objectives described through a corporate agenda or Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map requires coherent planning. Organizational transparency embraces communications that support an agenda of structured flows throughout the enterprise. Simple solutions are not always apparent. Business may be able to learn from the military which is structured with cascading transparency of communications.

A management model comes from the United States Marine Corps Chain of Command. The Marine Corps uses the “Rule of Three”. Limited to three major objectives results in focused training and removes distractions from competing influences. The rule works like this: each Marine has three things to worry about. Three men to a firing team commanded by a Corporal. That is three men plus the Corporal for a total of four on the team when the team leader is counted. Three fire teams to a rifle squad commanded by a sergeant. Three rile squads to a platoon commanded by a Lieutenant. Three rile platoons to a company commanded by a Captain. Three companies to a battalion commanded by a Lieutenant Col.… When business process follows a similar model to the “Rules of Three” the drill down provides a clear picture of performance at all levels of the organization.

Cascading the rule of three through an organization’s performance measurements connect individuals to a common set of goals and objectives. Every individual becomes responsible for a limited number of results limiting other distractions. Each organizational level is responsible for specific areas of decisions that roll up to the company objectives.

Model of process improvement and “Rule of Three”

Use the familiar steps to determine what to measure:

  1. First: Determine the crucial performance areas that need to be measured.
  2. Second: Determine the critical success factors necessary to succeed.
  3. Third: Study each critical success factor and define the performance indicators that will measure success.

The process moves from general to specific resulting in relevant and useful performance measures. When performance measures are assigned to individuals the rule of three will result in focus understanding, minimal ambiguity, and a strong understanding of measurement changes.

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