As you go through life you will come across many ‘magic triangles’. Ask any fireman, and he will tell you all about Fuel, Heat, and Oxygen – the three things necessary for any fire. This datum is incredibly practical because it tells you that to extinguish a fire you need take away just one of these, and the fire cannot survive.
There are two more magic triangles that I have come across in the teachings of Scientology, and this one in particular I have found so useful and so practical in everyday life and particularly at work that I named my business after it.
The KRC Triangle
The following quotes are from Scientology 0-8 The Book of Basics by L Ron Hubbard.
The points of the K-R-C TRIANGLE are K for KNOWLEDGE, R for RESPONSIBILITY and C for CONTROL.
It is difficult to be responsible for something or control something unless you have KNOWLEDGE of it.
It is folly to try to control something or even know something without RESPONSIBILITY.
It is hard to fully know something or be responsible for something over which you have no CONTROL, or otherwise the result can be overwhelm.
A being can of course run away from life and go sit on the back side of the moon and do nothing and think nothing. In which case he would need to know nothing, be responsible for nothing and control nothing. He would also be unhappy and he definitely would be dead so far as himself and all else was concerned. But as you can’t kill a spiritual being the state is impossible to maintain and the road back can be gruesome.
The route up from death or apathy or inaction is to know something about it, take some responsibility for the state one is in and the scene and control oneself to a point where some control is put into the scene to make it go right. Then know why it went wrong, take responsibility for it and control it enough to make it go more toward an ideal scene.
Little by little one can make anything go right by:
INCREASING KNOWLEDGE in all areas of life,
INCREASING RESPONSIBILITY in all areas of life,
INCREASING CONTROL in all areas of life.
If one sorts out any situation one finds oneself in on this basis, he will generally succeed.
The K-R-C Triangle acts like the. When one corner is increased, the other two also rise.
Most beings have a dreadfully bad opinion of their capabilities compared to what they actually are. Hardly any being believes himself capable of what he is really capable of accomplishing.
By inching up each corner of the K-R-C Triangle bit by bit, ignoring the losses and making the wins firm, a being at length discovers his power and command over life.
So in a practical sense, what does this mean? Well, it shouldn’t be too hard to take these principles and apply them to any area of your life, but here are some pointers.
Knowledge is Important
They say ‘knowledge is power’. Well, maybe, but more than that, it is vital for basic existence and without it things will never get better.
You need to know how to do your job. Whether you are an engineer, a salesman, or a nanny there is a technology to what you do. There are ways to do it right and ways to do it wrong. If you don’t know the tech of your job (or any area of life) you will not succeed. You cannot know too much, so study, learn, observe, practice.
If you are a manager, as well as knowing the technology of ‘how to manage’ you also need to know what your juniors are doing. We’re not talking ‘control-freak micro-management’ here, just plain and simply knowing what’s going on. I have seen a manager give a task to a junior engineer and pay no further attention. Three months later the junior presents his work to the manager and its a total shambles. The junior didn’t really know what he was doing (lack of knowledge on his part), and the manager didn’t catch it because he had no idea what the junior was doing (no knowledge on his part). Three months work wasted (expensive) and a project now three months behind.
Well at this point, the manager could just say, “Well, my junior is useless and its all his fault,” or come up with countless other reasons why he was not to blame. But we’re not talking about blame here. In some companies either the manager or the junior (or both) would have been fired for such gross incompetence, but that doesn’t really benefit anyone. In other companies (particularly those operating a “no-blame culture” that is implemented as “no-accountability”) the issue would just be swept under the carpet.
Instead, per the text above, the manager should look at what went wrong. Get some knowledge of the situation. Then take some responsibility for it. “Yes, I see now that if I had paid more attention I would have caught him going off the rails from the start.” That then opens the door to controlling the situation better. “From now on I will check on my juniors at least once a week so I can guide them along the right track if they are wandering off.”
The junior should take a look and realize that his lack of knowledge of (a) the job and (b) exactly what his manager was looking for were going to land him in hot water. Then he can take some responsibility for the situation and decide, “I need to make sure that I am doing what my manager wants, and if he is not checking on me himself then I need to go to him periodically and make sure we are still both on the same page.” He can also brush up on the tech of his job, get himself on a training course, etc.
Responsibility means recognizing that you have a part to play in making sure thing go right, and doing what is needed to make sure they do rather than finding reasons that explain why they didn’t. And if they didn’t, it means acknowledging the part you played in that, what you did or didn’t do that contributed, for only in that way can you see how to avoid the same thing happening again (and again and again!)
Control is a big subject in itself and will be the subject of another post of its own. It often gets a bad name when done badly, and has become a bit of dirty word in today’s climate of political over-correctness. But the fact remains that we all have areas which we need to control, and we must all be willing to be controlled by others in certain areas.
A workman must be able to control the tools and machines he uses on the job. At the same time he must be willing to be controlled by his manager who needs to be able to control such things as what time he starts work, what job he is working on today, and so on. Likewise the manager must be able to exert some control over the workman and at the same time be subject to the control of his senior manager. We are all subject to various controls in the form of regulations and laws, be it the rules of the road, health and safety legislation, or company policies.
An enterprise that is not properly controlled will either never get started, will veer wildly off course, or will become a never-ending problem. This applies whether it is a car, a machine, a project, or an entire company.
In the earlier example, the manager did not control the junior. But likewise, the junior should also have exerted some slight control over the manager, if only by politely requesting a design review or some other assistance.
Essentially, control boils down to starting something that needs to get going, changing it’s speed, direction, etc. to keep it on track, and stopping it when it needs to be stopped. That’s exactly what you do when you drive your car. It is also exactly what’s needed in managing other people or projects.
All For One And One For All
All three are needed together. And whenever something went wrong you will find that one of these three – Knowledge, Responsibility, or Control – was poor or absent. And, seeing which was deficient gives you a head start in remedying the situation.
Imagine being given a job, told you are in charge and are responsible for this activity, and yet you don’t know the first thing about it.
Imagine a project manager being tasked with ensuring a project comes in on time and on budget, yet he is not given control of the resources he needs to work on the project. The personnel he needs all work in other departments for other managers, and he gets them if they can be spared.
Or maybe you notice an over-stacked pile of boxes in danger of toppling, but its not your department and you don’t want to step on any toes so just walk on by.
This tiny nugget of knowledge can go a long way to making sure things go right in the first place. But the real value, in my opinion, is that it gives you a road back up when things have gone off the deep end. No matter how bad things seem, take some responsibility and put this to work and you will end up in a better, stronger position because you now have more knowledge and will be in better control than ever before.