The Prioritized 3 Wins Method

by | May 15, 2023

3 Prioritized Wins

People First Operations is a foundational leadership and management practice for operating any organization whereby every aspect of how the organization runs is continuously evaluated and improved using The Prioritized 3 Wins™ method. The 3 wins, in order of priority, are:

  • The organization’s people (employees, volunteers, etc)
  • The organization as a whole
  • The organization’s “customers”

Why is that the order of priority?

It is rather intuitive to think that those who pay for goods and services (or those who receive care, in the case of a not-for-profit relief organization) should have first priority ahead of everyone else. And like many leadership decisions that are made every day, that intuitive prioritization is actually wrong.

The first thing to highlight is that the Prioritized 3 Wins method is pursuing 3 wins; basically a win for everyone involved. It is not saying that the customers lose just because they are 3rd in the priority list. They, too, must “get a ‘W’”. However, too often, when leaders look for the classic “win-win solution”, they are looking for a win for their customer and a win for their company, but the people who have to make things work for that to happen are not even being considered! They’re not even in the list!

Secondly, the oversight of a win for the people immediately creates a “weak link in the chain” of the solution and it’s likely that that chain will eventually break, as is being seen now in industry with employee engagement and turnover measures. To state it a different way, that solution is suboptimal and is creating inefficiencies and waste which make it far less of a win for the company. The hidden costs are high, such as:

  • High employee turnover
  • Low employee engagement
  • High stress that leads to increased medical claims for the company

But what is much worse is that these are hurting the organization’s own people – people that are often touted to be “the company’s greatest asset”.

To illustrate, consider that of a lifeguard rescuing someone from drowning without access to a floatation device. Their main objective is ensuring that those in the water (their customer) stay alive. To accomplish that, one of the first things that a lifeguard learns in lifesaving certification training is that in order for them to be able to do their jobs in saving lives, they themselves need to stay alive! And so when approaching someone who is conscious and struggling to stay afloat, the lifeguard approaches very carefully because that person may, through irrational and adrenaline-charged “fight or flight” reactions, reach out and grab the lifeguard in an act of desperate survival. The end result of that action could mean that both lifeguard and victim drown. If the lifeguard is grabbed, they are trained to go under the water, pulling the person down with them and then forcefully kick away the victim so that they themselves are first and foremost safe. Furthermore, training also instructs that the victim may need to become unconscious before it is safe for the lifeguard to haul them to shore.

It sounds horribly uncompassionate, but in reality, this is a perfect example why the proper prioritization of the 3 wins is so incredibly important. The lifeguard is going to save the victim (the customer), but they will ensure their ability to do that first by not, themselves, drowning.

And so it goes with People First Operations. As leaders, we must ensure that our people are safe and cared for in the work environment. Finding the first and most important “win” is for them so that they can create the next two wins for the company and for the customer.

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