The discovery, acceptance & management of life's gaps

The 3C’s of the Common Cause

Sunday 20 September 2009 - Filed under gaps + project management + thoughts

Steven R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, often speaks on leadership and teamwork. Once when responding to the question, “what makes a great leader?,” he stated, “Great leaders involve their people in the communication process to create the goals to be achieved. If people are involved in the process, they psychologically own it and you create a situation where people are on the same page about what is really important—mission, vision, values, and goals.”

Further drawing from Dr. Covey’s insights, he is also quoted as saying, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Taking minor liberty and combining his quotes, I can imagine Dr. Covey agreeing with my conclusion: The idiom getting on the same page applies equally to our ability to inspire as well as to our ability to clearly communicate our common objectives.

Throughout my career I have tried to emulate the likes of Dr. Covey. I work hard at becoming a more effective communicator, so that I might both inspire, and contribute to the clarity of vision that every team and relationship requires. Despite years of improvement, all too often, I still find an unacceptable gap between what I thought had been communicated and what other team members understood. My quest for clarity ultimately led to a simple method I call the 3Cs: capture, clarify and confirm. When I communicate a task to my staff, I ask them to “3C it!” This reminder begins the quest to fully capture, clarify and confirm the task that I am asking of them. When managing up or otherwise taking on projects myself, I mentally kick off the same process, by remind myself to use the 3Cs.

The 3Cs

  1. Capture – Capturing is simply illustrating the objective in the most effective and appropriate form. Much of the time a simple email restating what is to be accomplished is all that is needed. At other times… diagrams, flow charts, etc. may be required. Whether the capture takes the form of text, pictures, audio/video, etc., it is important to do just what is needed. The illustration of the objective should not become the objective. Often, during the capture stage, the “illustrator/documentor” recognizes an alternate approach, leading to a better solution.
  2. Clarify – The clarification stage is where the captured objective is communicated back to the initiator. A two-way communication cycle consisting of clarifying questions and responses ensues. During this process, the captured/illustrated objective is modified to more accurately reflect mutual understanding.
  3. Confirm – Once mutual understanding has been achieved, the initiator “confirms” that their request has been accurately captured.

To some of you this will seem overly formal, to others not formal or detailed enough. All I can tell you is that it works. Over time, you and those you work with will become better able to communicate vision and shared objectives. The more closely we are aligned, the more effective we are as a team. This is true at work and in our personal lives. Whether you are looking to get in sync, gain alignment or begin singing from the same sheet of music, it is my hope that some variation of “3C-ing it” will help you mind the gaps in your communication. It certainly has helped mine. -Russ

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2009-09-20  »  Russ Leseberg

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