Microspeak: The triad, the ad-hoc acronyms that result, and the arithmetic problem 3 × 3

At Microsoft, you'll often encounter three letters put together to form an acronym representing what appears to be a group of people of some sort.

Document title: Monthly meeting with CMR

CMR will review the status of all projects in the upcoming weeks.

From: Morgan

... email message ...

Thanks for all your hard work,

This acronym consists of the initials of the leaders of the three project roles: Program management, development, and quality. Collectively, this is known as the triad.

In this case, the people involved are named Robin, Morgan, and Chris. To choose the name for a triad, you take the three initials (in this case, R, M, and C) and play with the six ways of arranging them until you find something that sounds pleasing but doesn't create confusion with existing three-letter acronyms.

If the name one of the members of the triad begins with a vowel, then you will often find the choice made so that the resulting three-letter abbreviation is pronounceable.

When two different triads have a meeting together, this is known as a 3 × 3, pronounced three by three. This is another case of a meeting disguised as mathematics.

Comments (13)

  1. Boris says:

    Why not go a step further and retcon a code name such as Cimmeria?

  2. ZLB says:

    I suspect the 3 x 3… notation is actually probably a good guidline for how many days it will take between requesting a meeting and actually get the full quotient of people in a room together…

  3. Leonardo Herrera says:

    I think this idea is an abomination and should be stopped. God I hate TLAs.

    1. James Moore says:

      Microsoft loves them, though. Can you imagine if all the bureaucracy, in addition to having to be dealt with, also had to be fully spelled out? We’d not get anything done!

  4. Peter Doubleday says:

    A bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears for me.

    I’d rather hear from the chap/ess who thought my solution was “just right.”

  5. Viila says:

    So, there won’t be nine members attending the 3 × 3 meeting?

    1. Boris says:

      A 3 × 3 converts to nine potential 1 × 1’s, not nine people.

  6. Nathan Samson says:

    Commenting on your linked blogpost: in our company we use the term “one to one” which gets abbreviated as 121. I am still struggling to veto this abbreviation as it confuses the hell out of me…

  7. Wearwolf2500 says:

    So 3 people enter the meeting room and then another 3 people enter the meeting room and then 9 people come out? I think these triads have more interesting meetings than I do.

    1. Ivan K says:

      I heard when they mix like that only 8 actually wind up coming out, due to the strange rules of quantum mechanics.

  8. Scarlet Manuka says:

    Of course, “triad” also refers to the criminal gangs in certain Asian countries.

  9. Dan says:

    I hope that there isn’t a Kyle-Kate-Kris triad.

  10. DWalker07 says:

    When two different triads have a meeting, it should be a 2 x 3, not a 3 x 3. Or it could be a 3 + 3.

    3 x 3 is just… wrong, since it’s 9.

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