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Honoring Covey's Enduring Ideas

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | July 20, 2012

APICS Operations Management NowThis week we mourn the passing of a legend among business writers__Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, died Monday. Covey’s book sold more than 25 million copies worldwide and spent five years on the New York Times best-seller list.

Covey fused the genres of self-help and business literature, writes Douglas Martin in a New York Times article. Martin continues: “Covey was a bit baffled by his success. He said he was simply telling people what he thought they already knew: the efficacy of good behavior.”

Like many of you, I’ve read and reread Seven Habits. Therefore, I know as I type this that you probably are familiar with Covey’s ideas. However, I can also say that every time I’ve read Covey’s book, I’ve gained something new that I can apply in my work and in my life. Therefore, I think it’s worthwhile to review the seven habits, which are:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think “win-win”
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw (meaning take time to renew yourself mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually).

In his book, Covey writes about two ways to put yourself in control of your life immediately__making a promise and setting a goal. “As we make and keep commitments, we begin to establish an inner integrity that gives us the awareness of self-control and the courage and strength to accept more of the responsibility for our own lives … The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness.”

What Covey articulates in his writing usually is what we consider “soft skills,” but that doesn’t mean it is not important. Professional development is about more than gaining the technical skills you need to competently perform a function. True expertise is gained by improving your effectiveness and working well in a team while you communicate, build trust, and collaborate to achieve results.

APICS career research shows that supply chain and operations management professionals advance in their careers as they hone their soft skills. Professionals who combine strong technical competence with effective soft skills are consistently promoted. APICS strives to support this winning combination.

Consider, for example, APICS career packs, which contain job descriptions, career paths, and competency models by title for supply chain and operations management careers. These career-focused packages help you manage your career growth by strategically setting goals and measuring your progress against information provided by counterparts around the world.

APICS career packs can be downloaded free from the APICS website, and they include packs for buyer/planners, distribution and logistics managers, master scheduling managers, materials managers, and supply chain managers.

If you are looking for inspiration, I encourage you to read or reread Seven Habits, which I expect will continue to resonate with businesspeople for years to come. Once inspired, however, APICS and its resources can help you succeed in your own fulfilling career.

Idea exchange

 Now, you can take the APICS Operations Management Now discussion to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the APICS Supply Chain Channel. Be sure to use the hashtag #OMNow and include @Tweet_APICS in any tweets to have your words featured on the APICS homepage.

  • How relevant are Covey’s seven habits to your career? Are there any other aspects of your activities that would make it in an updated list?
  • Are “soft skills” important in your organization? Do you consider yourself strong or weak in this area?
  • What are the habits that make supply chain and operations management professionals matter to corporations?
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