The 6th condition is accountability where people can evaluate themselves using 360 degree data, meaning, financial accounting plus information from all stakeholders-customers, suppliers, employees, their families, the community and so forth. The sixth condition feeds back into the "win-win performance agreement" and nurtures it, maintains it, and gives us abundant evidence of the trust and trustworthiness that lie at the very core.
DiCarlo: But business is so "bottom-line" oriented...
Covey: Well, financial accounting is only 90 degrees. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and financial accounting is dangerous without a full understanding of the human sources of all that data. It only tells you about the effects of the programs. It doesn't tell you anything about relationships, cultures or programmers-the individuals. Nothing, absolutely nothing. Financial accounting intoxicates the brain. It gives people a sense that they know what's going on, and they are drunk. They are drunken with this sense of concrete, precise, scientific data, unaware of how totally incomplete and inaccurate it is. So they have to add the other 90 degrees of looking at their customers and understanding the buying habits, motives and needs. To really understand them.
The other 90 degrees is to understand their own people. Their own culture. People's families. The other 90 degrees deals with the community and with suppliers and distributors and dealers. Government. Media. A 360 degree review basically means that you have a scientific, and a systematic and a regular approach at gathering data and putting it in front of people in ways so that it is very useable. So that they have a very good understanding of not only the acute, but the chronic sources of problems. Not only of the part but of the whole. Ultimately, what we call total quality today focuses upon total customer satisfaction will be changed. It will move to total stakeholder satisfaction.
The universal mission statement is basically to increase the economic well-being and quality of life of all stakeholders. If one is neglected, it will have a negative, domino effect on all the rest.
DiCarlo: In your view, what would you say characterizes the times in which we live?
Covey: We are seeing the fruits of social disintegration everywhere-families torn apart, businesses failing, low trust, adversarial relationships, fighting in all sectors of society. It's across the board in hospitals, health care, schools and education. No one is trained in interdependence, in working together. Everyone is thinking independently and yet the problems we face all require high levels of cooperation. The essential message of my work has been that we need to return to the fundamental principles of the character ethic. The need is enormous.
DiCarlo: How did we deviate from these principles?
Covey: By behaving in a way that is in direct opposition to each principle. The first principle involves personal responsibility and most people don't take it. Principle 2 involves developing a personal vision of your life-most people don't have a vision. They don't act on purpose. Principle 3 involves putting first things first and keeping commitments-most people don't have integrity. Principle 4 involves seeking mutual benefit-most people are selfish. They think "win-lose" or if they are martyrs, think "lose-win." Principle 5 involves seeking to understand others first-most seek first to be understood all the time. Principle 6 involves synergy and looking for third alternatives-most go for compromise instead. And the 7th principle involves what I call "sharpening the saw"-most people fail to pay the price of personal renewal.