The 7 Habits Revisited – Part 2

Author: Russ Aikman

Posted: November 2017

In Part 1 of this blog I wrote about the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Written by Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012) in 1989, this extremely popular self-help book has sold more than 25 million copies. I feel strongly that Covey’s ideas can be adapted by Lean Six Sigma practitioners at all levels – Green Belts, Black Belts, Master Black Belts, Sponsors, even Champions. In fact, many existing LSS tools and concepts are complementary to Covey’s approach.

In the first part of the blog I covered some of the origins of the book, which are linked to the U. S. bicentennial in 1976. Most of that blog was focused on the Urgency-Importance Matrix and Quadrant 2 Activities. You can read Part 1 by going to this link.


Before exploring the 7 Habits in more depth I would like to step back to cover what is meant by habit. Stephen Covey was very specific in his description of this word:

“For our purposes, we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.”

Covey used a Venn diagram to illustrate this definition:


Now that we are clear on what is meant by Habit, what are the Seven Habits? Here they are, as presented by Covey:

  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


Here then is a table of the 7 Habits with Covey’s original intent and as viewed through a Lean Six Sigma lens:




For many LSS belts these tools and methods will be very familiar. But are you really using them consistently? Or are you skipping steps or taking shortcuts? True effectiveness on an ongoing basis requires a real commitment to all seven of these Habits.

The impact of applying these Seven Habits on your career can be profound. And on your career beyond LSS – indeed, even on your life.


Russ Aikman is a LSS Master Black Belt and the Lean Six Sigma Program Manager for TMAC. He has over 25 years of experience in continuous improvement. To learn more about Lean Six Sigma please contact Russ at tmacevents@uta.edu.

More about Russ Aikman:

Russ is the LSS Program Manager at TMAC, and started the program in 2003. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 30 years of experience working in a wide variety of industries, and with small firms up to Fortune 500 companies. He has taught dozens of LSS classes from Yellow Belt up to Master Black Belt. He has also coached hundreds of LSS practitioners on their projects and advised managers on their LSS program. Before joining TMAC he worked at George Group, the first firm to integrate Lean and Six Sigma.


Comments (2)

  • Rick Foreman

    Russ; I believe you’ve hit on one of the main keys for successful continuous improvement personally, as a team and as an organization. Leadership and serving others from a supportive and accountable position, which can actually be measured. I’ve heard actions, become behavior and our behavior becomes our character. For a culture to sustain and move Lean Thinking forward, Covey’s habits provide an amazing resource for influencing positive change. Excellent article!

  • Russ Aikman

    Hi Rick – Thanks for your insightful comments about this blog. You are spot-on in stating that Covey’s ideas can greatly impact one’s character. And if a critical mass of people in an organization use his ideas then it becomes part of the culture. I would go one step further: A positive, effective company culture is a competitive advantage. It is relatively easy to copy tools. Very difficult to copy culture. Thanks again!