7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Decades ago, I read Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It has been a fantastic guide for life and, the more I think about it, the more relevance it seems to have with agile software development and user centered design. This is a summary, but I would highly recommend that you purchase and read (or listen to) the entire book.

  • Habit #1: Be Proactive – This is an agile mindset. Think Kanban. As soon as you are done with a task, you look on the Kanban board and see what is your next challenge. The most proactive realtors and salespeople are generally the most successful and well-paid. It is the proactive people in this world who tend to achieve what they seek.
  • Habit #2: Begin With the End in Mind – This reminds me of Life by Design by Rick Brinkman. In agile terms, this is the Product Vision or the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This is about knowing your destination, your strategic goals, and where you want to be.
  • Habit #3: Put First Things First – In agile terms, this is prioritization. As part of the backlog grooming process, you should also be prioritizing. With agile, we understand that we will never have enough time or money to do everything we want. So, we focus on the highest priorities first so that when time and money does run out, we will have ensured ourselves that the most important things got done first.
  • Habit #4: Think Win-Win – I’ve always said that Happy Employees = Happy Clients. Team moral reflects in the customer service and pride we take in our work. When employees are happy and feel satisfied with their job and their work, then that usually leads to happy clients and vice versa. Happy clients who express their appreciation for a job well done boosts morale.
  • Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood – In agile terms, this is user centered design (UCD), user experience (UX) design, human centered design (HCD), and practicing empathy. Your message is better received when you understand your target audience.
  • Habit #6: Synergize – Think 1+1=3. Working together in close coordination towards the same goal can be much more productive than everybody working individually, on their own. In agile terms, think pair programming. Two people sharing a screen, looking at the same problem together, can often be more effective, productive, and produce higher quality results than each working separately.
  • Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw – It is important to have have a lifetime learning mentality. When we are young, we think we know everything. As we get older, we realize how much we don’t know, how arrogant we were before enlightenment. It is important to continue to read self-improvement books, take continuing education classes, earn certifications, and continue to expand our mind and grow as individuals.

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