The Theory of the Big Three: From the NBA to High-Performance Teams in the Workplace

by | Jun 27, 2018 | Offshore RPO

If you grew up in the 70s, like me, and enjoyed watching Schoolhouse Rock on Saturday Mornings, you learned that “3 is a Magic Number”.

But is it?

What is so special about No. 3?

Specialists in communication arts know it. Lawyers know it. Teachers know it. Parents know it. Marketers know it. Psychologists know it.

You know it too, although you may not actually realize it. The brain likes to chunk what it takes in, in threes.

Heck, even witches come in threes.

In design, there is the Rule of Thirds. It’s an approach to composition where designers divide a canvas in three columns and three rows, and all the intersecting lines will serve as focal points.

In speechwriting and copywriting, there is the Rule of Three. If you are giving examples, give at least three. If you are enumerating reasons, give at least three.

In the National Basketball Association or the NBA, the concept of the Big 3 couldn’t be more relevant. After the culmination of the NBA 2018 Playoffs, we’re once again on the edge, as we watch every NBA team strives to cobble their own respective Big 3s.

Why the widespread enthusiasm?

The Concept of the “Big 3” in the NBA

The NBA is a star-dominated game. Even much more than football or soccer. This is the reason there is widespread curiosity and tremendous enthusiasm over NBA teams’ top three picks each season. We’re eager to see the spectacle these top players will bring to the game.

But is there any rational logic behind our fixation with NBA’s Big 3s? Or is this a fruit of the same mythical significance we associate with the number 3?

Apparently, there is a rational explanation. A pretty convincing one at that.  

In Sports Economics, sports analysts use a model called “Theory of the Big Three” to predict a team’s chances of winning (or win percentage).  

This theory, despite the name, is actually a regression model where analysts predict a team’s likelihood of winning using the individual performance of its top three high-performing players. It’s a simple statistical analysis.

In a Princeton publication, sports analyst Gene Li shows us how this calculation is done. You can find the full publication in the link below.

See Theory of the Big 3: Predicting NBA Team Win % from Individual Performance

Throughout the history of the NBA, we’ve seen these “Big 3s”. We have the triumvirates Jabbar- Magic-Worthy, Wade-Lebron-Bosch, and now, Durant-Curry-Thompson.

Each season, we look forward to seeing the Big 3s playing for the coming season.

The Power of Three in Business and Team Performance

The importance of the number three seems to go deeper than anything cultural or sports. In the workplace and in business, the Power of Three is as relevant as it is in the NBA.

I recently came across an interview series by the Zift Marcom Academy, where three business experts weighed in on the importance of integrating key functions in business and marketing.

They talked about three as a magic number. In the webinar, they explored three key elements of integration: Function, Process, and Technology.

Tony Adams, SVP of Partners and Alliances at Qlik, maintains that ‘organizations must align and integrate functions to ensure every phase of a partner’s sales cycle is supported with simple, predictable, and profitable action’.

Zift’s Laz Gonzalez, also spoke about ‘the importance of integrating key processes to create a seamless channel and partner experience’, while Forrester Principal Analyst Jay McBain, discussed how and why technology must work together to improve adoption, productivity and ROI.

These experts suggest that harnessing the power of these three – functions, processes, and technology – can help businesses fulfill their maximum potential.

Read the full article here.

There are other empirical evidences attesting to the seemingly “magical” or “mythical” power of three.

In a study conducted to determine collective efficacy, collaboration, and teamwork among healthcare workers in healthcare agencies in Norway, the researchers from University of Norway concluded that “three is the magic number”.

Therapists working in teams of three rated their workplaces more positively than therapists who worked in agencies with 1 or 2 teammates.

What’s more interesting is that this result is independent of the size of the healthcare agency or the agency’s leadership quality, service population, and individual therapist education.

Even more interesting is that agency workers working alone or in pairs reported no significance ratings in their ratings of their workplaces.

Want to make your workers happier? They got to work in threes! Nothing less.

Read the full study here.

Our Own Big Three

At Sysgen RPO, we have our very own Big Three – a triumvirate of skilled professionals whose contributions to the company’s success and our client’s satisfaction are undeniable.

Allow me to take this opportunity to introduce Mia, Eza, and Coby — our HR, Operations, and Learning Development Chiefs, respectively.

Mia, Eza, and Coby work hand-in-hand to fulfill the triangle of success at Sysgen RPO —  exceptional human resource management, operational excellence, and continuous skills development.

The BPO-RPO industry is a fast-paced, cut-throat environment. Having Mia around to cultivate an engaging and great workplace is crucial to our success as we grow rapidly.

Coby, on the other hand, ensures Sysgen’s culture of continuous learning and development. To meet our clients’ need and to ensure that our teams flourish, Coby sees to it that we hold each one another to a high degree of skills development and commitment to quality and improvement.

We are a firm believer that nobody comes to work to do a bad job. It’s just that, sometimes, we just don’t know what good looks like. Thanks to Eza, we’re now laser-focused on performance improvement more than ever.

The dynamics of these three, creates a robust core that allows Sysgen RPO  to ramp up quickly, grow holistically, and satisfactorily support all of our clients’ needs while promoting our colleagues’ professional development.

We have a saying here at Sysgen: “Work hard, Play hard.”

Thanks to our Big 3, that’s exactly what we do.

And we excel doing both.

Bringing it All Together

When building a high-performance team, at least we know, three is a magic number.

Of course, this does not mean that three is all you need to have in a team. For some it’s seven. Could be eleven. Various circumstances call for varying responses and varying arrangements.

But now we know that there’s really nothing mystical about the 3 being a ‘magic number’. There is logical rationale behind the Power of Three. It isn’t mythical. It isn’t magical at all.

It’s simply an empirical reality — one we see in sports, in communications, in business, and in the workplace.

How about you? Do you have your Big 3?



Cornell, P., Rocket, S., Kross, K., Asher-Perrin, E., Carey, J., Bourke, L. and Rocket, S. (2015). The Magic Number: Why Witches Come in Threes. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 13 Jun. 2018].

Zift Marcom Academy. (2018). 3 is a Magic Number: Driving Higher Channel Performance through Integration. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 13 Jun. 2018].

Financial Times. (2018). Why three is the magic number. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 13 Jun. 2018].

Lease, E. (1919). The Number Three, Mysterious, Mystic, Magic. Classical Philology, 14(1), 56-73. Retrieved from

TeamGantt. (2016). What is the Ideal Team Size to Maximize Productivity? | TeamGantt Blog. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 13 Jun. 2018].

Harvard Business Review. (2012). Why Less Is More in Teams. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 13 Jun. 2018].

Jo Rebustillo


Jo started her recruitment career in 2007. Since then, she has worked with several RPO and BPO companies in different capacities. She has worked as a Recruiter covering requisitions in US, AU, EU and APAC handling volume, non-IT and IT. She has led several teams as a Recruitment Manager, Account Manager, Service Delivery and Business Development. She has also led teams in different industries such as Media and Advertising, IT, Outsourcing, BPO, Manufacturing, Military, Healthcare and Sciences. She has built teams based on their strengths and developed leaders with strong ethical values as well as aiming to beat the average. She strongly believes in integrity, strive for growth, persistence and kindness as hallmarks of a successful person and company.

Nikita Magpantay


Niki is a dynamic human resource professional with a focus on talent acquisition and HR business partnership, bringing her extensive expertise gained over 6 years. She is a versatile Recruiter specializing in diverse sectors including technical, banking and finance, logistics, sales, healthcare, and volume hiring. Niki, as an experienced HR Business Partner has proven success in aligning HR initiatives with business objectives, contributing to organizational growth. She seeks to foster positive employee relations and implementing effective engagement initiatives and business strategies while ensuring adherence to labor policies. Adept at combining a friendly demeanor with a dedicated result-oriented approach helps her bring a unique blend of empathy and strategic acumen to the workplace.

Intejar “Ram” Julkiram


With 9 years of background in RPO, Ram is adept at managing and optimizing the recruitment process for clients, ensuring a seamless and efficient experience. His skills include a deep understanding of both the IT and non-IT industries, enabling him to provide tailored recruitment solutions for the team.

Shara Jane Bonifacio


Shara Bonifacio boasts a rich and diverse career spanning more than 10 years within various industries in recruitment. As a highly skilled and effective communicator adept at engaging with people across multiple platforms, her passion lies in building lasting relationships. She excels not only in connecting with candidates but also in fostering strong ties with clients and stakeholders.

Throughout her career in industries such as Financial Services, Insurance Brokerage, Information Technology, Pharmaceutical, and Healthcare, Shara has showcased her results-driven mindset. Her penchant for challenges motivates her to continuously strive for excellence and growth.

Shara's leadership experience is a testament to her ability to guide and inspire teams, ensuring collective success and achieving organizational goals.

Evangeline “Gigi” Tilaon


Gigi, an inspiring leader, possesses nearly 5 years of expertise in the art of Talent Acquisition and boasts a distinguished 15-year legacy of visionary leadership. She is renowned for her unwavering dependability and boundless supportiveness, qualities that radiate through every endeavor she undertakes. Gigi's leadership style is characterized by remarkable transparency and hands-on engagement, underlined by a profound trust in her team's exceptional talents. She confronts challenges with fearless determination, inspiring her team to achieve greatness. As a passionate outdoor enthusiast and a nurturing fur parent, Gigi advocates for a work-life equilibrium with extraordinary grace and enthusiasm.

Randy Owen Roman


Randy brings extensive experience in the recruitment industry, spanning over 5 years. During his tenure, he has successfully managed a diverse portfolio of clients across multiple sectors, including IT, Financial, Retail, Light Industrial, BPO, Market Intelligence, and Healthcare. Randy is passionate about the outdoors and finds joy in activities like hiking and exploring nature. Equally, he appreciates the arts, indulging in music, movies, and series. As a leader, Randy exemplifies fairness and empowerment, consistently guiding and inspiring his team to surpass expectations.

Avielle Bernardino


Avielle, with 7 years of Healthcare Recruitment, is not just a leader. She is a mentor and an architect of streamlined offshore program planning. She has an innate ability to optimize processes, ensuring they align seamlessly with our clients' and program-defined standards. She empowers her peers, nurturing exceptional performance and maintaining a high level of service quality. This dedication to efficiency has set a new benchmark within our organization. She actively participates in strategic planning initiatives, driving a culture of continuous improvement. This proactive approach ensures we stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.

Kris Florblanco


Kris, with over six years in IT Recruitment and three years of team leadership, is known for dependability and supportiveness. Transparent and hands-on, she places trust in her team. An outdoor enthusiast, Kris faces challenges head-on to keep her team up and running.

Grace Marasigan


Grace, an empowering leader with six years in Talent Acquisition, is passionate about innovation and improvement. Balancing work quality and agility across various industries, her compassionate approach extends to her personal life as a committed vegan.

Ly Poticar


Ly brings 2 decades of expertise in the Recruitment and Staffing industry, covering various business verticals in both local and global recruitment. He has successfully led growth projects for SMBs and offshore expansion initiatives for Shared Services and other global enterprises. He seeks to continuously evolve his recruitment practices and client partnership agenda to provide innovative solutions and be a step ahead of the market trends. Ly has recruitment experience in the talent market for the following majors, as well as emerging industries: Tech – hardware/software/mobile/consulting/Web3, Online Gaming & Media, Digital Marketing, Finance – corporate/banking and fintech, Construction & Engineering, Energy, BPO, Manufacturing & Logistics.

Lara Belo


Lara brings a decade of invaluable experience in the field of IT recruitment, catering to diverse and niche IT roles. With adeptness in team management, she has led successful recruitment teams. She guides her team in effectively sourcing, tailoring recruitment strategies, and connecting top-tier IT professionals with optimal career opportunities nationwide.

Her extensive background in business development and client relations has not only led to the acquisition of new accounts that have expanded over time but also positioned her as a trusted partner for numerous clients.

Ezalyn Caberto


Eza is an accomplished RPO leader. She has a proven experience in building and leading high-performance recruitment teams.

Eza is also experienced and active in offshore RPO's management, recruiting, and consulting aspects. She has implemented several successful offshore recruiting accounts that have grown over time.

Eza is also a successful mentor who has produced budding leaders in her field. As a mentor, she has a strong focus on supporting emerging millennial team players.

Candy Poblete


Candy has been an HR Practitioner for 10 years. Her extensive experience in managing end-to-end HR facets came from various industries. She’s a champion in handling employee relations and labor relations. As a strategic thinker, she is adept at aligning HR policies and practices with the company’s goals and objectives, safeguarding the organization from legal complications, and providing employees with a secure and fair environment.

Anna Katrina Roa


Katrina, a De La Salle University graduate with a BSC in Accounting, plays a vital role in maintaining the company's financial health. She generates reports, manages budgets, and oversees the accounting department.

With over two (2) decades of experience in the recruitment industry, she is well-versed in its financial dynamics. Her expertise allows her to adeptly address the unique financial needs of recruitment businesses, making her an invaluable asset to the organization.

Jimmy P. Roa


Jimmy is a business executive in the field of BPO, RPO, IT Staffing, Technical Recruiting, Virtual Recruiting, Remote Staffing, and CAD Outsourcing. Having been involved in these industries for the past 30 years, Jimmy knows what works and what doesn’t. Aside from being the CEO of Sysgen RPO, he is also CEO of Sysgen – an IT Staffing firm which he founded in 1991.

Keen to working with clients who are willing to practice the “One-team Concept”, Jimmy has been mainly responsible in growing the Sysgen Group to what it is now.

He believes that clients are partners and that a true alliance is essential in achieving overall goals of cost savings and process improvement.