PCH goes for Olympic gold in effectiveness

In the following article Imelda Hurley, Chief Financial Officer at PCH International, discusses Stephen Covey's influential book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' and how the habits can be turned into successful business practice.

Being effective is all about 'doing what you need to do to achieve the desired result'. If you want to be successful in business, be happy in life, or to achieve something specific, then being effective is about consistently doing the correct things to achieve the result you desire.

I recently re-read 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey, a book listed as one of 'The 25 most influential business management books' by Time Magazine. The habits are simple, easy to follow, and in my view apply equally to individuals and organizations. If followed, effective behaviors and results will inevitably follow.

So what are the 'seven habits' and what will happen if I follow them?
- be proactive
- begin with the end in mind
- put first things first
- think win / win
- seek first to understand and then to be understood (simply listen more)
- synergise (so brainstorm with other interested parties to find solutions)
- seek constantly to improve?

The answer is simple, by following the 'seven habits' you will achieve more consistent and better results. The alternatives are unthinkable, I am reactive, I don't have a plan, I don't prioritize, I create conflict by not finding the 'win win', I don't listen, I don't see the need to improve.

As I write, I have been waiting for a delayed flight at London Heathrow Airport for over 16 hours. Whilst I am not enjoying the delay, it has given me plenty of time to contemplate the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit (and chaos!) which has even spread to London's airport.

So how do talented athletes 'get' to take part in this phenomenal sporting spectacle? I have concluded that Stephen Covey got it right, the answer is simple:

- they are proactive
- they train: they begin with the end in mind. For most athletes their Olympic journey begins many years earlier when they make a commitment to 'get to the Olympics'
- they put first things first: they develop a detailed plan which takes account of not only training but diet, lifestyle and many other factors
- they think win / win: they want to achieve that 'winning feeling' not only for themselves but for their country
- they seek first to understand and then to be understood: they listen to their training team
- they synergise: they have to find a way of getting the totality of their training to equal more than the individual pieces
- they seek to constantly improve

Having considered the successful formula of the 'seven habits' I recently discussed them with my Finance team at PCH International too see if we can implement any of the ideas. Now conference calls are peppered with words like "are we being proactive?", "are we creating a win / win situation?" and "are we improving?".

I believe that PCH is an extraordinary organization that is truly unique in both its achievements and culture, but by applying these habits individually, within functions and across teams, I believe we can take PCH to a new level. We can achieve even greater scale and even greater recognition as being the 'go to' supply chain solutions company and also become recognized as one of the great places to work. I'm sure that the same could be said of almost any businesses or organization around the world.

I am still waiting at the airport, but things have taken an unexpected twist. I have got chatting to a fellow passenger who turns out to be a client on her way to visit PCH in Shenzhen (unbelievable!). We have plenty time to chat about PCH and one of the many things I learn during this conversation is that we are improving, bringing more focus and becoming more proactive. We are on the way! Habit one in action.

By Imelda Hurley