The rule of three with strategic planning

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau probably wasn’t thinking about strategic planning when he wrote the words “simplify, simplify, simplify.” But he well could have. The reality is we overly complicate strategic planning at credit unions and banks.

The best strategic plans are not necessarily the most complicated. In fact, the most successful plans are the ones that are the most simple.

One way to simplify your strategic plan is to implement the “rule of three.” According to Carmine Gallo, author of Talk Like Ted, “the rule of three simply means that people can remember three pieces of information really well; add more items and retention falls off considerably. It’s one of the most powerful concepts in writing and communication.”

It’s also a powerful concept when it comes to strategic planning. Rather than making a list of five, seven (or Heaven help you) 10 strategic initiatives, focus. There is true power in focus.

Think about how the number three is effective in many different aspects: there were three little pigs, three musketeers, three wishes granted to Aladdin. The U.S. flag has three colors, there are three medals in the Olympics and three wise men brought gifts to baby Jesus.

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