3 × 3 rule

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…a problem or decision that involves more than one department or function.

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You want to optimize the whole and avoid sub-optimization but are having trouble getting the whole system in the room.


  • “Team building” creates better work teams without improving whole companies. Every team meeting gives rise to many more meetings before the work done at the center impacts the whole.
  • You can only change a system in relation to the larger system of which it is a part.


Get any three levels and any three functions that have a stake into the same conversation on any issue of mutual concern. Pick a goal that is realistic for the time available.

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You will gain a better resolution much faster if you provide people firsthand access to the other parts of the systems on whose behavior they rely.

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