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Resources: Rule of Three

From Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019, audiobook 2020), chapter 6:


As text:

...my “Rule of Three”, a rule of thumb that helps meetings work not just with the organisation structure but on it:

  • Design your strategy and governance meetings so that they invite the active participation of at least three levels of seniority. Include representatives from a range of different disciplines who have skin in the game and are respected for their direct knowledge of the situation.

Not only are formal reporting lines deliberately bypassed and hierarchies thereby flattened, but there are witnesses! Information flows faster, and the quality of decisions made with it improves. No-one is there only to find fault; conversations are authentic, participants able to remain true both to the facts and to themselves.

Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile
Mike Burrows (New Generation Publishing, 2019)


Notes (condensing some commentary from the book):

  • Three is a minimum, not a maximum! For a powerful example, see Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, General Stanley McChristal, with David Silverman, Tantum Collins, & Chris Fussell (Portfolio Penguin, 2015)
  • Useful also as a guide to workshop participation – Agendashift workshops and Outside-in Strategy Review (OI-SR) workshops for example – as well as more regular review meetings such as Service Delivery Reviews (an outside-in form of which is described in the book)
  • A natural arrangement if you can understand your organisation in terms of Sociocracy's double-linked circles – see We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy, John Jr. Buck and Sharon Villenes (Sociocracy.info Press, 2007). See a case study example of the Outside-in Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR)
    aka the Strategy Performance and Alignment Review (SPAR)
    described in chapter 5 and interpreted retrospectively in chapter 6 as an implementation of Sociocratic governance:

Copyright © 2015-2024 Agendashift Ltd (formerly Positive Incline Ltd). All rights reserved. Rule of Three by Mike Burrows of Agendashift Ltd is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.

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Agendashift™ is brought to you by Agendashift Ltd (formerly Positive Incline Ltd), UK-based specialists in leadership, engagement, strategy, and change. Founder Mike Burrows came to prominence in the Lean-Agile community as the originator of Kanban’s values model, out of which came his first book, Kanban from the Inside (2014). His more recent books Agendashift (2nd edition 2021) and Right to Left (2019, audiobook 2020) bring a resolutely needs-based and outcome-oriented perspective to change, transformation, and the Lean-Agile landscape as a whole, contributing meanwhile a number of popular tools, games, and other resources. He works as a consultant, facilitator, and trainer, and as a keynote speaker at events public and private around the world.

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