The Power of 3, Part 1 - Borromean Rings Epiphany

I was recently working with one of my children to help them understand prime numbers, and discovered the concept of prime links (aka prime knots).  I had no idea what these were at the time.  Quite simply, prime links are comprised of geometrically closed loops that cannot be created by a smaller number of geometrically closed loops.  They are the geometric equivalent of prime numbers.

Borromean rings consist of three rings linked in such a way that the removal of any one link results in two un-linked rings.  They are an example of a 3-1 prime link.  The significance of this symbol goes beyond mathematics.  Its influence can be found in religion, physics, chemistry, ancestry, art.

The name "Borromean rings" comes from their use in the coat of arms of the Borromeo aristocratic family in Northern Italy. The link itself is much older and has appeared in the form of the valknut on Norse image stones dating back to the 17th century.*

I had an epiphany when I read the definitions*… this symbol has significance to the rules that product development professionals try to live by.  It illustrates the importance of balance between 3 usually independent variables (or competing interests).  If we are mindful of this concept and symbol when collaborating with team members, partners, and suppliers, we can lead them (and ourselves) to a balanced outcome.

Remember not to break any one of the links, or the other two will fall apart!

Stay tuned for Part 2…

* In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from