A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.
– Stephen Covey (1932 – 2012)
On July 16th, the world lost one of its most recognized self-improvement writers and speakers in Stephen Covey. His books, speeches and projects were aimed at improving and empowering individuals and the organizations and networks they belong to. His most well-known publication is ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, written in 1989, which has sold 15 million copies and been translated into 32 languages.
In case you have never read ‘The Seven Habits’ or need a refresher on the list, here they are:
Any one of the Habits offers actionable insight for procurement professionals, but the best advice of all may come from a high level consideration of all seven together. While Covey emphasized self-mastery, owning one’s actions and accepting the corresponding consequences of those actions, the ultimate goal is to work in productive harmony with others.
Most of procurement’s interactions are with people or groups that are at cross-purposes: internal stakeholders that would rather continue buying the way they have in the past, oversight groups such as finance that question the validity of our reported results, and suppliers that need to be managed or represent negotiation opponents. It is critical that we are purposeful in our choices and actions, focused on the goal at hand and the path to that point, before we begin interacting with outside groups.
Staying the course in the face of opposition and distraction requires procurement to clearly articulate their goals and objectives: both for themselves and those they work with. The intent of the seventh Habit is to find a source of renewal and self-rejuvenation. The effort we make and the results we achieve need to be sustainable. In order to maintain our ability to meet expectations, we must find time for professional development, exchange and collaboration with procurement colleagues, and a review of the core principle of our function: namely to secure cost-effective products and services that allow the company to meet customer demand and maintain a competitive position in the marketplace.
Whether you apply Mr. Covey’s philosophy to your personal or professional efforts, you will see improvements in your clarity of purpose and your future potential. As we say at Buyers Meeting Point: ‘Learn, Share, GROW’.