Rule of Three: The business of keeping it simple

It's been said in many time and many ways, "things come in threes." People tend to remember them most in speeches or as familiar sayings, committed to memory and thus "comfortable." "Morning, noon and night," "Blood, sweat and tears," "Friends, Romans, Countrymen..." IT Security, which seems to make a new headline every week is driven by:
  • Something you have (a id token)
  • Something you know (a password)
  • Something you are (a fingerprint) 
Rule of Three is memorable, simple and direct. Did you notice that meta-rule of threes? Memorable, simple and direct. We live an increasingly complex world of social, business and personal interactions. No matter how well you present something, how smart the listener/receiver, how memorable the product/offering people want to be able to digest them in their own way, at their own pace and in their own time.
 
In business and life people tend to gravitate towards those things above all, regardless of their age, level of education or status in life.  Here is a set of threes, learned from interactions.

People want to be entertained. 

Regardless of the context, subject matter or the audience, people want to be entertained by your material.  Content is king but it must be enjoyable, in context and memorable.  Stuffing it full of pithy sayings and views from on high won't do it. Not everything needs to have a happy ending (even in white papers) but people want you to give them hope.  Get to the point and keep your context real.  I've learned  some tough lessons.  I was asked by Forbes to use a methodology I call Constructive Disruption to write an article about past fiscal crisis. The editor's reply was short and to the point "This is really well written but lacks substance. We won't use it." Which reminded me of another lesson.

Keep it really, really simple.  

People want to know you follow some basic rules regardless of what you are trying to convey.  These are the same rules we all learned in high school science.  Make it understandable, repeatable and reduced to its most basic elements. Write/speak to the level of your audience and if your audience is broad, make your appeal equally so.

Brand does matter.  

Personal brand even more so.  How you use it and with whom you are associated with make all the difference.  Creating a personal brand that is as identifiable and as authentic as you are is a lot of work.  It's also really worth the time (lots and lots) and effort you put into it.  You become recognized for a style, point-of-view and something that in the right context people will always gravitate towards.  If a brand that's associated with yours becomes toxic, drop it or you'll get the collateral damage.
Here's an anecdote that will make it into a book. I have a methodology I call "Constructive Disruption." It's how my brain is wired and has four :) steps that I use to approach life and problem solving (Uncover->Examine->Prepare->Satisfy).
 
Last summer I was able to apply CD during a tour Mount Rainier, a classic landmark just outside of Seattle. The tour guide/driver was knowledgeable but his stories about the iconic mountain were dry and factual. It felt a lot like a middle school history textbook. After driving part way up, we parked at one of the rest stops.  We got out for a walking/hiking exercise for a couple of hours. We returned to the bus to find the driver fairly upset, as he had not been able to get the van to start for the past 20 minutes. Several people tried and looked under the hood.  No one could determine the problem.  I looked over at the angle the car was resting on (we were on a mountain side) and the guide said, "You try, I am going to call my office for another van."   Based on the angle the van was resting on and applying CD (Uncover - What do we know) I thought the position of the car was causing the problem.  Everyone knows I am not a car guy and not terribly mechanically inclined (pun intended).  Examining what I knew from the position of the car and that I had discovered the steering wheel was locked up, my analysis was that the mechanism in the steering column were somehow locked up.  (Prepare) To solve it, I worked my thumb into the steering column and found parts that allowed the steering wheel to turn.  I pushed; it gave a loud mechanical pop.  The car started on the first turn of the key.
From the outside, it may have appeared a bit magical. When I walked the bus driver through what I did, he gave a rare smile. Afterward he shared a similar anecdote from his own experiences. The trip down the mountain was punctuated by stories of interesting people and events he had encountered while giving the tour over the years.
 
Are there threes in your experience you can share?