3 is the magic number

3 Magic NumberHere are the thoughts from Eamon, the founder of Motivii on 3 being the magic number…

It all started by feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do at work. I always found when I listed all the things I needed to do instantly my motivation would dip.

Separately when I was pitching people they seemed to get confused if I tried to sell in too many benefits. Without realising I started to limit myself to never trying to explain more than three things in one go. Actions following a meeting started being limited to to three things. And it worked! People remembered more, followed up on the actions and I started winning more deals.

I thought that I was onto something special… then I realised I was not the first person to understand the magic of 3!

If you look at politicians explaining ideas typically the better ones limit themselves to just three points. Even counting it on their fingers while presenting.

You can see the rule to three appearing everywhere:

  • Beginning, Middle, End – story telling
  • Veni, Vidi, Vici – Julius Caesar
  • Stop, Look , Listen – highway code
  • Thinner, lighter, and faster – Steve Job’s iPad 2 launch
  • Work, Rest, Play – Mars advertising campaign.

If you talk to psychologists they will tell you the human brain is fine tuned to remember three things. Ask it to remember more and you start running into trouble. Even things like telephone numbers, most people break it into around three groups of numbers to make it easier to remember.

On realising, that I liked keeping things to three I started writing down my three highlights of the week, the three challenges and the three things I wanted to focus on the next week. This simple list started helping me reflect and plan better. It felt like I had less to do and I got more done. I started to call it my Top3 report. (Highlights, Challenges and Focus are three things by themselves).

I know it’s not rocket science, but when I started getting everyone I worked with doing their own Top3, the benefits started being huge. Communication improved, stress was reduced and we started really nailing the important things.

However, it was still a very manual process. I wanted to get automated reminders to complete my weekly Top3; I wanted to do it quickly on my mobile; I wanted to add the option to answer anonymous questions; get automatic summary emails for my team; and I wanted the system to generate insight like, word clouds, run sentiment analysis and more… (I can’t help but want more than three things 😉

Though I looked, I couldn’t find anything in the market that could help. So… if you can’t find it build it. 

One year later the magic of 3 has helped launch Motivii which is making work better at GSK, Lloyds Banks, Find My Past and many more companies. And yes, Top3 is built into the service helping create fast feedback for employees, managers and organisations.