Three tales of of three things

2535935479_dde4457b43_z3 things. Giles Pegram always summarised his genius at key points with the phrase 3 things. Always right. In time, we all learnt the art. Three things. So here are three things about three things

Why do we say things in threes? The Philly Times gives a good summary. Deep stuff, a real insight. So, we have Giles summing up in three. And now my second three. Once I had some amazing training from Richard Olivier, son of Lord Olivier. He used Shakespeare’s Henry V to illustrate leadership, a sort of metaphor for modern-day corporate or sector leadership . He told us that Henry built his grand project around his allies – his first third. But he was conflicted over two other groups – critics and naysayers. He pondered about these two groups. Critics he decided he needed. They added value and a check against excess, a test for reality and to help you get it right. Naysayers – they needed to die. They were the project killjoy, the underminers, the force to stop something, to subvert it. Naysayers = death.

The challenge for Henry was to diagnose this correctly. A heavy price to pay if he got it wrong. In modern terms death may a bit extreme, but anyone with the experience of knowing a naysayer, will smile with the notion “if only”. So three things. Allies. Critics. Naysayers.
Most teams have their own thirds rule. I have practised this art for years and here it is. One third of the team you start with or inherit will be right, the gang to keep and build. One third wont be. They need facing. Addressing in whatever appropriate way, but they need addressing. You know in your heart it wont work, it’s not right and divorce is the only way – kindly. The final third – you dont know. You are open. With the right leadership, direction and conditions who knows. But you need to find out. Almost every team has this.
So three things. Firstly, sum up with three things. We remember three. Secondly, keep your friends, embrace you critics and kill your naysayers (metaphorically of course). And finally, build your teams honestly with the gang its going to work with, deal with the gang it wont work with and help the gang you aren’t sure about to step up.
No HR policies were damaged or compromised willingly in the writing of this hopefully helpful guide to the wonder of three.
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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Random Things › Three tales of of <b>three things</b> | Stephen George's Blog

  2. Ah, the tricolon of classical rhetoric. Giles is such a man of letters. I bet he read his Cicero and Quintillian.

    It is a powerful device, speaking in threes. Once you know it’s power, you start hearing it all over the place – and yes, Messrs Cameron, Gove and Johnson are, perhaps not surprisingly, able exponents.

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