The Three “C” Rule by John Halinski, USMC (ret)

The three “C” rule for business is a modification of what we all learned as young officers in the Corps. When we were young Marine Officers, we learned that C3 stood for Command, Control and Communications. That concept is easily adapted to successful business operations. The importance in the military of C3 is to communicate effectively, understand who is in charge and to coordinate with higher, adjacent and lower units for mission accomplishment.


As we progressed in the Corps and most if not all of us began dealing with other services and militaries as well as other government agencies, we learned that collaboration and cooperation were essential tools to succeed in our operations.


We all lived through the transition from a unique branch of military service to the joint concept of the “purple” military. The term “purple” is used to describe the DoD push to create a truly joint military, and describes a one-color concept instead of each service having their own color (i.e. Navy Blue, Army Green etc.).


Personally, I am convinced that the strength and success of the US military today has been due in large part to the joint or “purple” concepts that DoD embraced. A large part of the joint concept is the concept of Communication, Collaboration and Cooperation, the “three C rule”.


Upon transition for many military personnel to government service the same principles that we learned as military officers were very applicable to work in the US government. The US government is composed of multiple Departments, Agencies and organizations which require constant coordination, communication and various levels of collaboration/cooperation in order to be effective. In fact, leaders within the government attend professional education courses that stress these traits as they progress through their government careers.


Thankfully those lessons of the three “C” rule found in the military and government are very appropriate and essential for success in business. Whether you are a small business owner or a member of a large corporation, to be successful the three “C” rule absolutely applies.


The first “C” in the business C3 rule is Communication. Multiple books have been written for business that discuss the art of communication. In business, the most successful are the companies that communicate effectively both to their employees and their customers.


Follow the “KISS” (Keep it simple) rule by ensuring that everyone understands what you are trying to convey; that your message is simple and straightforward and ensure that you don’t assume everyone understands your message. Also, it is imperative to understand in business things change rapidly and your message can change just as quickly so be ready to evolve the message… The old “Semper Gumby” ethos we learned.


This leads to the second “C”, Collaboration. In business, it is important to understand the space you are in and building an effective network to ensure you achieve your goals. There is a stereotype in US business that companies compete against each other and are ruthless in their approach trying to ensure they alone succeed. Actually, I find that healthy competition is a good thing but more importantly the reality is that competitors intertwine and “team” to be successful in various contracts and with their customers.


Large corporations work together on various programs and contracts and may be partners on one contract and competitors on another. Small businesses are wise to build their network of not just competitors but others that complement their goals. Developing and maintaining strong networks within the business community are essential. Membership in associations, groups and alliances are very helpful in building these networks that will prove successful. Identifying those key points of contact that can help your business and building a relationship with them serves to enhance your companies’ goal.


The final “C” is Coordination. It is absolutely essential that in business everyone in the organization understands what the organization’s objectives are and how the business is pursuing those goals. Coordination between the various groups within a business is absolutely mandatory for success. “Stovepiping” of information or operations will generally lead to failure. Examples of some of these elements in business include coordination of material for production; ensuring regulatory compliance is met; ensuring transportation, insurance, and other requirements are coordinated. These are just a few examples. Good consistent coordination is always essential in business.


It is important to never assume in a management or ownership role that coordination is being done. Ensure that you constantly monitor your operations to ensure coordination is taking place.


If you review and analyze why businesses fail, there can be any number of reasons but following the three “C” rule will give you a definite advantage to being successful. What we learned in the Corps is definitely applicable in business.


John Halinski was a Marine Infantry and Intelligence Officer for over twenty five years. Retiring in 2004 he worked for the Transportation Security Administration for ten years retiring as the Deputy Administrator/Deputy Assistant Secretary. He is considered a foremost authority on Aviation Security and is a regular commentator for NBC, ABC and Bloomberg News. Since retiring from government service he has opened a successful security consulting firm, S&R Investments LLC, and is the President and owner of Raloid Corporation, a manufacturing facility specializing in sensitive DoD programs. He is married to Jennifer Halinski, a retired teacher, and has two daughters one who works for TSA and the other is a USMC officer. He enjoys hunting, fishing and travel.

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