to the Altris Blog

Minimalist Leadership – The Project 333 Challenge


You may recall a previous post in which I talked about my interest in simplification and minimalism. In that post I talked about the benefits I had noticed after applying a more conscious and simplified approach to my life – in terms off a sense of more time and space, less clutter and clearer thinking.  At the time I was interested (as I still am) in applying the concept of Minimalism to Leadership, namely in looking at whether it is possible to help leaders identify the few things they do that make the most impact.  My sense is that if leaders could identify these, and practise them on a regular basis, they would be more effective, clearer and less stressed, and therefore better able to perform at a high level.

One of the techniques used by people who adopt a minimalist approach to their wardrobe is something called Project 333.  This is a technique designed to help people reduce their wardrobe in size by choosing just 33 items of clothing to wear over a 3 month period.  The benefits of this approach include minimising decision-fatigue (through having less options to choose from), more money (by not having to buy new clothes), more time (by not having to shop for more clothes), more clarity etc.

So I wondered, was there a way to adapt Project 333 so that it could be applied to the significant overload that can occur by looking to apply the multiplicity of leadership tools and techniques available these days?  Often I find leaders struggle because they can’t see the wood for the trees among the multitude of views around leadership tools and techniques (e.g. you will get over 440 million hits if you search for ‘Leadership Tools’ on Google).

It struck me that rather than the 33 items for 3 months used for clothing, an alternative approach for leadership (which retains the Project 333 concept) could be to identify and apply just 3 leadership tools / techniques rigorously for a 33 day period (let’s call it a month for simplicity).  The idea is to identify three particular areas of leadership practice or tools that you want to focus on and apply your time and attention to the application of these over a 33 day (month) period.  The intention is to avoid getting distracted by other tools or ideas you come across in the interest of embedding the three selected techniques into your day-to-day leadership.

By the end of this time, the three elements should have become more habitual in the way you are operating.

Some examples of the kind of tools / techniques that leaders could choose to work on (bearing in mind that these will be different for each leader) might be:

  • Adopting more of a coaching style of leadership and looking actively for opportunities to ‘coach’ rather than ‘instruct’
  • Making time each day / week to reflect on what has gone well in order to build more awareness of the positive aspects on your role (instead of focusing on what’s not going well)
  • Making time each week to connect with key stakeholders in order to build relationships and influence
  • Making a point of looking for opportunities to provide feedback (positive and/or constructive) to team members or colleagues
  • Consciously looking at all the work they have on to identify opportunities to delegate elements that will provide development for people in their team

Every leader will have different areas they identify as those they want to focus on.  The important thing is to identify three areas that are most relevant to you at the time.

If you currently struggle to maintain focus on particular aspects of your leadership that you want to develop, adopting a Project 333 approach may provide the focus (and permission) to pick only three elements to work on over the next 33 days.  At the end of that time you can either decide to continue to actively focus on these areas or pick some new aspects to focus on (while hopefully the original three have by then become more embedded in your day to day).

It would be great to hear from you if you decide to take the Project 333 leadership challenge – let me know what you work on and how you find the process / impact.










Leave a comment