The Power of Threes


As I mentioned in my last post Norman Drummond led our HT conference on Wednesday.

I had the pleasure of giving the vote of thanks where I mentioned the power of the tricolon, e.g. “I came, I saw, I conquered” – which is a technique that many outstanding speakers use to great effect – Norman being such a person. I was introduced to the tricolon by another of my former Selkirk High School colleagues in the form of David Shanks, erstwhile Principal Teacher of Classics.  Dave Shanks was an exceptional teacher, with the number of pupils taking Higher Latin at the school often exceeding any other school in Scotland (including all the private schools) – I’ll maybe post a poem I wrote for Dave in another entry.  Dave taught me that the power of three in oratory terms was an ancient as our language

I mentioned the power of three again on Thursday when I was talking to our East Lothian Council’s leadership team about the leadership programme we are hoping to develop.  A key aspect of that programme will be that people will work in threes as opposed to the traditional pairs arrangement. I was interested when David Spilsbury, our Head of Corporate Finance, supported that concept and referred to how the British Army worked in threes – as opposed to the U.S Army who work a buddy system. I’m sure I’ve heard this before but I can’t find a link to establish if indeed this is the case – pointers welcome.

To complete the link, Norman Drummond’s focus on Wednesday had been on co-coaching (the coach and the person being coached both benefiting from the process) I do believe that we too often set people up in pairs, e.g.  mentoring, coaching, buddying – when in actual fact a three way relationship can be much more productive.

3 thoughts on “The Power of Threes

  1. The British Army does indeed use threes. It stems from the old triangular defence is best mode. ie three sections of 10 make a 30 man platoon, 3 platoons make a company, 3 rifle companies in a battalion (with additional support companies and admin) 3 battalions or regiments (tanks/artillery) in a Brigade, 3 brigades in a division and 3 divs in a Corps. This also applies with artillery (3 troops equals a battery etc) and tanks 3 tanks in a section 9 in a troop etc etc.

    It also means that one man can carry a wounded buddy whilst the other defends them both.

    In the class I group mine into 2 girl one boy if the boy is weak at writing etc. I also make them march (quietly) in three along zer corridor ja! And they don’t call me Adolf either…. 😎

  2. Been doing tri-party meetings with nursery staff. One videos the other and they both watch separately and write comments. Then I come along and help them with the follow up discussion where they comment on the video.

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