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Anyone reading management and leadership articles and books will be familiar with Drucker’s Maxim, “Efficiency is doing things right: Effectiveness is doing the right things.” But all too often the experience of the led is that no-one is applying this common-sense approach to their lives. Perhaps if they read The Seven Habits they’d start to think differently.

Taking that Maxim as the title for the book, Covey explained that (in my words) success is all very good, but if you can’t replicate it then success is transient, a one-off. Effectiveness means being successful in such a way as to be able to repeat the feat with consistency. Effectiveness means that success is the result of careful and considered application of P/PC.

P is production, it’s the results. It is what we aim for, why we do what we do. In the working arena it’s about creating products, selling, marketing and making a profit so that the concern can benefit and make progress. ‘Production’ implies work, but production can just as easily be manifested through hobbies, contribution and, most important for ‘people’, relationships.

PC is Production Capability. It’s about maximising our ability, both in terms of skill and resources, to continue to produce the results we want. Looking back at the Maturity Continuum from yesterday, it’s the all-encompassing circle of Habit 7, of Sharpening the Saw, of personal and practical Renewal.

P/PC applies to individuals and it applies to organisations – the methods may differ but the principle remains sound (as do they all) – if the ‘entity’ does not take time for renewal, it atrophies. Thatis why we train our personnel. That is why we maintain our equipment. It all goes badly wrong when we do neither and just keep churning out David Allen’s Widgets. We get tired or bored, and/or the widget-cranking machine wears out, rusts and breaks, and suddenly we have no production capability.

P/PC is a balance. It is not emphasis on either. It’s making sure that what we want to do is done, but also that we remain capable of doing it. There may be times when the balance is slightly out of kilter: carefully monitoring the well-being of the person or thing is essential if it is to remain effective, but too much training time affects productivity. Too little does the same! Being successful, consistently, requires careful consideration and application of both.

That’s pretty much it for the foundational understanding, the ‘Three Rs’ that we need to know if we are to fully appreciate the 7 Habits.

Finally, Covey suggests that the best way to learn is to teach. That is part of my motivation – I understand the Habits and myself better through teaching them. You can do the same. Take a moment to review the articles written so far and try to bring the content up in conversation, thus training others in a different/better/alternative way of thinking about their own effectiveness. If someone seems a bit overly-reliant on help, suggest they consider becoming less dependent. If someone sees things one way, see if you can help them see an alternative, even if they don’t agree with it. If someone has an issue, as k them how they see the issue, not just what it is. If something isn’t working, ask whether the problem is being looked at properly. And if someone does need a good telling off, consider instead whether the problem is one relating to knowledge (training/philosophy), skill (training) or desire (attitude/motivation) – the response is best if it addresses the right issue.

Tomorrow, coincidentally the 7th of July, we look at Habit 1 – Be Proactive.