The "Sense of Urgency" casts mention a concept called "one third, two thirds". In the comments for the cast, Mark mentioned that there would be a cast on that sometime in 2007. I am unable to find it. Does anyone know if they made a cast on it?

In the cast, both M&M said that they'd been doing this since the dawn of time and made it sound like it was the cats meow. I'd love to get some more insight into what it is.


mikehansen's picture


I do not think the podcast was ever done. I am sure it is on their long list of podcasts they want to do.

I do not recall what the concept was, so no help there.


jardena's picture
Training Badge

The urgency podcast didn't really say what the 1/3 2/3 rule was.  I am waiting for more detail too!

jhack's picture

It has not been in any subsequent podcast.  

Inquiring minds ... 

John Hack

mathiasb's picture

It stuck with me as well, and being from another country I didn't know whether it even was a 'cultural thang' =) Anyway, what I've been able to dig up is this;

I don't fully see how to implement the 1/3 2/3 in the corporate world (at least not mine). The main reason being that where I come from, most deadlines are 'final delivery' deadlines and not 'mission start' deadlines as in the examples. To me, the final delivery dead line is also preceded by a whole lot of delivering except for the planning. It may very well be though, that I need to understand it better. So please Mike and Mark, do the podcast =)

maura's picture
Training Badge

Hmm that link didn't work for me, Mathias.  Given that M&M are both former military guys, I think this link has a bit of what they were talking about in the cast:

"The objective of the battle staff drill is to create the best plan within a given time constraint. The time constraint should be managed using the one-third/two-thirds rule: one-third of the available time should be used for staff planning, and two-thirds of the time should be allowed for subordinate companies to plan and execute. Subordinate unit commanders may even want to conduct their own planning process. A warning order should be given to the subordinate units during the one-third of the time allotted for staff planning; this order will alert them to the mission.

The resulting plan will not be perfect, but it will be a good starting point for the operation. Remember that an average plan that is complete and executed on time is better than a superior plan that is incomplete, executed late, or requires all of the subordinate units' planning time to finish. "

In other words, when you get a project, do your part of the planning as efficiently as you can and give your directs a heads-up that it's coming, then get the work delegated as soon as you are done with your part, so the direct has time to conduct their own planning and execute within the stated deadline.  Really valuable advice for us "ready, aim, aim, aim" types.

wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge

Mark also wrote about this topic in a newsletter. You can read it here:

though, unfortunately, the competition is closed!


mathiasb's picture

Great, I had missed that newsletter!


stevesim's picture

The one third, two third rule is also covered in the High S Simple Downfall cast (2/14/2010) starting at approximately the 30 minute 20 second point. 

Steve Simmons

doliver's picture

Maura, you are correct in that the U.S. Military trains its officers to use that rule as a reference along with other techiques for planning management.  One thing to note is that large organizations like the U.S. military make this work well due to well defined management and communications structures and large amounts of SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures).

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 In June there was a 2 part cast on the one third/two third rule:

 Though, I have to say, most places I've worked getting notification of work before the deadline at all would be considered a plus.



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