"This small book is about getting predictable results in good times and bad—whether you believe ‘this time is different’ or not."
Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times: How to Win in Any Environment by Stephen R. Covey, Bob Whitman and Breck England is a book about the principles that organizations need today in order to withstand tough economic times, navigate change, and get the results that they’re after despite all that’s working against them!
Dr. Stephen R. Covey is best known for authoring one of the top selling business books of all time, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Bob Whitman is the president and CEO of FranklinCovey, and Dr. Breck England is an executive consultant working in the strategy planning and communication space.
Based on the authors research and professional experience, the book outlines what “great” organizations do consistently and with excellence regardless of what’s going on within their business, their industry or the economy, to achieve the results that they are after. These four principles are:
- Excellent Execution
- High Trust Levels with All Stakeholders
- Achieving More with Less
- Transforming Fear Into Engagement
Through real life examples, and great metaphors and analogies, the authors paint a clear picture of what leaders can do within their team or organization to produce results. At the end of each chapter there is a set of tools that the reader can use to work through these ideas specific to their situation, along with a “teach to learn” section which will help the reader share these principles and ideas with others in a clear, efficient way.
The Big Idea
Does Everyone Know What to Do?
"Does everyone understand and buy in to the goal? Does every team member know his or her role? Are they executing with precision?"
Many companies today have “organizational ADD”. What I mean by this is that every month or every quarter a new initiative is launched, a new corporate strategy is rolled out, or a new goal is put in place. As this continues over time, people begin to think, “this too shall pass”. The authors put it like this: “Walk down the halls. For every 100 people you pass, 15 might know what the organization’s top priority is. Take those 15 aside, and you’ll find that only six of them know what their role is in achieving that priority. Six out of 100 are not enough to get you through the mountains.” In order to combat this, organizations need to significantly narrow the focus to the critical few goals that have the biggest impact on the organization.
The FranklinCovey organization has conducted extensive research which shows that great performers do four things that lesser performers don’t:
- Focus on the top goals
- Make sure everyone knows the specific job to be done to achieve these goals
- Keep score
- Set up a regular cycle of follow-through
These four simple principles can help to eliminate complexity and help you and your organization focus on the most important items within your business.
A Crisis of Trust
"Mistrust doubles the cost of doing business."
Trust is among the most important leadership competencies required today. The authors suggest that “Trust is not a soft issue at all—it’s the hard, bottom-line issue of speed and cost. It can be measured and moved in the right direction.” In order to successfully navigate change and get through difficult times, the need for leaders and organizations to deliberately build a high-trust culture is essential. The authors discuss trust in two lights—Trust Taxes and Trust Dividends—which are defined below:
- Trust Tax is a tax that is paid on relationships that have low trust. When trust is low, the speed in which it takes to get things done goes up and costs inherently go up.
- Trust Dividends are dividends that are a result of a high trust relationship. When trust is high, the speed in which it takes to get things done goes down and costs go down.
In terms of working in a team setting, and striving to execute on strategic priorities, trust is a critical component of the successful competition on these initiatives.
Building Customer and Employee Loyalty
"There’s a difference between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty."
When times are tough and unpredictable, companies that succeed always focus on providing more of what their customer’s value and will pay for. They simplify their offerings, reduce any existing complexity and get very clear on how they can do better the job that customers hire them to do. The authors cite a fascinating survey from Bain which found the following:
- 96% said their company was customer-focused.
- 80% believed their company delivered a “superior customer experience.”
- 8% of their customers agreed.
That data is mind-blowing to me and shows a real disconnect between perceptions and reality! The authors suggest, however, that the focus shouldn’t be on customer satisfaction, it should be on customer loyalty. Loyal customers are the customers that would miss you if you were to go out of business. By answering the following questions, the authors help us think about how we can go about building customer loyalty:
- Who are your team’s most important customers (internal and/or external)?
- What are these customers’ most important goals?
- What specific jobs are your customers hiring your team to do?
“So what about your team?” ask the authors.
Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times is a light, yet powerful read. Using real life case studies and actionable tools, the authors prepare the reader for leading their team or organization through the ups and downs that are prevalent in business today.
“Are you poised to get predictable results—no matter how unpredictable the times?”