Not too long ago, I introduced the “3 C’s” — as a pathway toward integrating communications, or at least realizing the benefits of integration. The first “C” is communication, where we reach out to one another to share information about our activities and solicit some feedback. The second “C” is coordination.
The definition of coordination is bringing into a common action, movement, or condition (slightly adapted from Merriam-Webster). I expand that definition like this: Coordination means mutual sharing of information that leads the parties to in some way alter that information, or its planned distribution. For example, you and I might discuss our respective goals and what we’re doing to fulfill them, and then alter our plans as a result of that discussion.
For example, at National City, we’d started communicating across our business unit silos, and realized that one of the units was planning a communication at the same time another unit had a major management announcement. In our discussion, the latter unit asked if the former could wait a couple of days to avoid conflict. That used to be a recipe for a turf war, but because we’d discussed the need to coordinate and agreed, the two units came to an agreement in short order.
That sequence got replayed a lot — the units would make a few changes to messages, timeline, or even audience to accommodate each other. It made for a much more harmonious team, but also made it easier on the audiences, who didn’t have to try and absorb multiple messages and priorities. It also had the ancillary effect of sharpening and making more consistent the business unit and corporate messages.
There were a couple of times when “corporate” needed to insist on changes, but prior to the onset of our communication meetings, we might not have even known something was coming from the business units, let alone have the chance to offer suggestions to better focus the messages. We also made our own adjustments from time to time — in particular, stepping in when a unit’s distribution got moved up and conflicted with our own activity.
That generated trust and credibility and permitted us to gain valuable visibility to an important business unit priority. Coordination is a logical follower to communication, and it sets the stage for the next part of our 3 C’s — collaboration.