In this piece, we explain how to leverage Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ and transform an ordinary organisation into an extraordinary one.
We’ve been reading Stephen R. Covey’s masterpiece of self-help and organisational advice, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which, despite its age (it was originally published in 1989) remains one of the most relevant books published in the space.
As an organisation we are in an extremely fortunate position being able to work with hundreds of businesses across almost every possible industry and get hands-on experience as to how they conduct their operations. It’s our hope that this thread of content will help you and your organisation become more effective with a handful of simple and easily implemented methods to inspire new and improved ways of your organisation shooting for success.
Let’s first take a look at the difference between reactive and proactive organisations, as well as the main problems if your organisation remains reactive in the face of a dynamic market and changing customer demands.
Reactive vs Proactive Organisations
When you look at the divergence of proactive and reactive organisations, it’s easy to get the sense that organisations that fail to plan for the future, are, in the words of Benjamin Franklin “are planning to fail.” They are, by definition, more panicked in their reaction to a detrimental change in the market, or in the wake of a customer upheaval in response to a lack of quality in their product or service.
The main problem for organisations that remain reactive in their management strategies and vision statements is that they won’t necessarily change until a bad situation forces them to change. By this stage, it’s likely to be too late, and too much damage will be done for the organisation to potentially leverage this for their success. Reactive organisations are also more likely to ignore signs that their operations could be disrupted, or anticipate how a competitor’s higher-quality or cheaper offering could potentially dry up reserves of future clients.
Proactive organisations on the other hand will more than likely have done their research, and know exactly what that competitor is up to. Again, by definition, a proactive organisation is constantly doing this due diligence in terms of the industry in which they operate, and how they’re tracking. The benefit of constantly analysing your operations as well as the wider industry is that you’re able to spot trends in your industry that you can either prepare for or potentially leverage and capitalise on, rather than simply remain at the whim of surviving the storm.
Proactive organisations are also more cost-effective, as they can allocate time and resources to fix smaller issues before they mutate into a big, existential problem for the organisation which can be an extremely costly ordeal to tackle later in the process. That money saved can be funnelled into discounted rates for the customers, or further improvements to the final product or service that is delivered, meaning they increase their competitiveness solely through being proactive in their operations.
How To Get More Proactive
Affirmative inquiry is arguably the best – and most simple – means of taking a proactive approach to your organisation’s operations. In a nutshell, affirmative inquiry asks you to double down on your strengths, and ask everyone in your organisation how they view your ‘ideal scene’ or the idea of your organisation’s aspirations becoming a reality. Ask around each member of your staff and see what it is that separates your organisation from its competitors, and what you do better than the rest. From here, all you do is maintain the quality of that particular area of your organisation- simple.
Once you’re maintaining your strong points, you should begin to take a data-centric approach to how your organisation is performing, as well as your competitors. Data is your friend in this context and can help in a variety of ways to ensure the success and viability of your organisation- so long as you take the time to look at your numbers. Once you begin to take some time out and crunch the numbers, your decision making is now better-informed, and the changes you make will be more directed and purposeful. Make it a weekly activity; at Best Practice, we’ve got each of the divisions in the team meeting on a Monday with their numbers in hand. This is arguably the most common area we’ve seen organisations falter, as they don’t necessarily see the need to crunch the data… until it’s too late.
The idea is that by taking a proactive approach, your organisation begins a positive cycle of analysing areas for improvement, as well as identifying potential risks to your organisation’s profitability. Whether it’s analysing the data around customer complaints and identifying a common theme that needs to be addressed, or it’s identifying new ways to make an area of that organisation that is currently hemorrhaging money more effective and profitable.
We’ve written previously on how best to anticipate whether your organisation or wider industry is at risk of a massive disruption – like we saw with Uber disrupting the private transport industry – and the one common thing is the separation between organisations that were proactive in their research and due diligence, and the organisations that didn’t have time to react until it was too late.