Effectiveness – Doing the Right Things!

Do you feel that you're getting through a lot of work but are not really moving forward? Many managers feel like this because they try to become more efficient rather than focussing on how they could become more effective.

To become more efficient (doing things right) we try to manage our time better, work faster or even acquire newer tools, such as computer software, but all this does is make things go faster and may even add to your stress.

"Too many bosses are driven and driving but going nowhere.Warren Bennis"

To be effective (doing the right things), we need to start thinking on the business rather than in the business. In other words, we need to take an objective view, looking in from the outside, rather than getting caught up in business as usual. Looking in from the outside means that we ask questions such as "how can we improve things around here?"

The framework below (from Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – First Things First) helps to illustrate this and requires an explanation of the two dimensions used to create it:


Quadrant 1:

If something is Important and Urgent we have to do it, but how can we ensure we're Driven by Crisis less often? Read on… the answer lies in Quadrant 2!

Quadrant 3:

If something is Urgent and Not Important then someone else is probably making it seem urgent for us so, we are Driven by Others. To reduce the amount of time we spend in this quadrant, we can be assertive and say no or perhaps renegotiate involvement or timings with the other person.


Quadrant 4:

If we are doing Not Urgent, Not Important activities, those Driven by Junk, just STOP!

Quadrant 2:

The truth is that many of us spend most of our time being 'Driven by Crisis, Others or Junk'. So, is it any surprise we are frustrated when effectiveness eludes us? This 'Driven by Purpose' quadrant contains activities that are Important but Not Urgent. It is easy not to do these activities as there is no pressing or urgent deadline to make us take action. However, these activities are vital to the long term survival and success of both ourselves and our organisation!

Examples of such activities include strategic planning, developing ourselves/others and process improvement. If we don't spend time on these types of activities, performance or service will steadily degrade as the world moves on around us and more effective competitors start to gain advantage (as they spend time on the Important activities).


There is another advantage in investing time being ‘Driven by Purpose’: if we develop people, improve processes or make service improvements, we will have less crises thus spending less time in Quadrant 1. So, we will have become more effective!

I recently worked with a client to re-focus their business, spending two days with the senior management team working in the 'Driven by Purpose' quadrant. We developed a new strategy for the business and then developed a plan of, long overdue, business improvement initiatives. The business is moving forward much more effectively as result, with a renewed sense of direction.

We need to make time for ‘Driven by Purpose’ or ‘On the Business’ activities and doing this is the essence of both effectiveness and leadership. Leadership is about taking people with you to a better place and that better place will always be found by thinking ‘On the Business’ and by asking the questions “where are we going?” and “how can we improve things around here?”

What tips would you like to share around effectiveness? What comments do you have about this blog? We’d love to hear from you so please leave any comments below and do get in touch if you would like some help in making your organisation more effective.

Look out for next month’s blog on Partnering.

Posted by Mark Procter

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