The Five Dimension Denominator

1995 ASQC Quality Management Conference
February 8-10, 1995

Richard E. Winder, J.D., M.B.A.
Daniel K. Judd, Ph.D.
Lindon J. Robison, Ph.D.

Copyright 1995, Winder, Judd, and Robison.  All Rights Reserved.


The Five Dimension Quality Model provides a common denominator for linking Covey with Quality. The relational paradigm provides a basis for seeing Principle-Centered Leadership at the heart of quality, rather than separate from it. The relational paradigm and the five dimension model provide a basis for linking the technical, continuous improvement side of quality with the human development side of quality which Covey elucidates. This provides a foundation for integrating leadership into an organization to assist it in flexibly responding to customer dynamics.


To live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy have become the clarion of principle-centered leadership, which uses trustworthiness, trust, empowerment, and alignment to integrate personal, interpersonal, management, and organizational levels.

We were recently intrigued by the query of a friend (an avid Deming disciple) who had recently attended a Covey seminar. He said, "The Covey training is great, but what does it have to do with quality?"

Covey refers to quality as the most significant paradigm of this century and as vital to an organization's present and future health. He devotes three chapters of Principle-Centered Leadership to Total Quality Management. Yet the quality connection is a difficult one for many to perceive. Even Covey speaks of quality in the "third person"--as something different from principle-centered leadership.

Yet Covey has discovered that principle-centered leadership provides an essential foundation for nurturing quality in an organization. His clients note that principle-centered leadership has assisted them in nurturing an environment where quality can thrive.(1) These dynamics point to a deeper connection between quality and principle-centered leadership than a mere comparison of the seven habits of highly effective people or the elements of principle-centered leadership with Dr. Deming's Fourteen Points. While it is true, as Covey notes, that the seven habits provide a foundation for many of the Fourteen Points, the analysis becomes complex enough that it is of limited utility in implementation.

Covey's brilliance is that he is able to dig deep into dynamics and bring them to the surface in a way we can use them effectively. It is precisely at this dynamic level that the connection with quality exists. Consequently, principle-centered leadership is more than just a tool that can be used to achieve quality: deep down it reflects the very essence of quality. In fact, it is the discipline of these quality dynamics that makes principle-centered leadership a powerful tool for change within the organization and, in addition, provides the integrative power to link the organization with our global society.

To understand the Quality-Covey connection, what we need is not a complex comparison of features, but a simple linking of dynamics. But in order to do this, we need two critical tools: First, we need a framework which serves as a common denominator and provides a platform for fully moving among Covey's teachings and quality principles. Second, we need a comprehensive definition of quality which incorporates the fundamental aim of quality: the building and sustaining of relationships. With these tools, we discover that the link between Covey and quality is a complete, synergistic link which helps us understand not only that, but why, principle-centered leadership provides an effective foundation for quality. This synergy helps us see principle-centered leadership as part of quality rather than separate from it. It also permits us to extend principle-centered leadership beyond "win-win" to a fifth, holistic community dimension, founded in the "delight the customer" dynamic, where quality realizes its highest fulfillment. This integrated framework then permits us to transcend management to become completely leader-based organizations.


Making the link between Covey and quality entails first establishing a common denominator on which the link can be made. This entails understanding the five dimension quality model which provides the framework for both quality and principle-centered leadership, then developing a definition of quality that is broad enough to encompass the technical, continuous improvement side of quality as well as the human development side elucidated by Covey. With this framework, not only can the link be made, but the framework can be used to enhance our understanding of Covey to permit us to move completely beyond the paradigm of management control to comprehensive, empowered, leader-based organizations.

The Five Dimension Framework

A number of years ago, law professor Karl Llewellyn, in describing an integrated framework for the study of law, noted: "We have discovered that students who come eager to learn the rules and do learn them, and who learn nothing more, will take away the shell and not the substance."(2) In order to develop a framework for integrating Covey with quality, we must develop a complete framework that provides us with the tools to describe not only the shell of quality, but also its substance.

Traditional quality systems constituted a shell consisting of three elements: quality performance (the do of Dr. Deming's Aim-Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle), quality measurement (the study phase of the APDSA cycle), and quality systems and processes (the act phase of the APDSA cycle). This review of the traditional system highlights two missing elements of the APDSA cycle: quality aim and quality planning. The fact that many quality systems exist without planning is demonstrated by the results of an informal survey question we have asked at a number of seminars and workshops: "How many of you have a quality system in place in your organization?" When only those with formal quality systems respond (typical response is 50-75%), we note that every viable organization has a quality system in place: if it did not, it would not be able to continue in existence because it would not have the necessary participants (or stakeholders, such as customers, employees, shareholders, etc.) to sustain its existence. We note that they may not have described or deliberately planned the quality system, but nevertheless it still exists as a system in place. Moreover, once they begin to understand what their quality system is, they can then begin to identify what it should be, and design or modify the system to be more responsive to internal and external customer dynamics. Management's function in the organization is to allocate the necessary resources to implement the quality system thus planned and designed.

Traditional quality planning would stop there. However, quality planning is more than just designing the rules, policies, and structures of quality systems. It also involves nurturing the paradigm, or framework, under which quality will thrive. In addition, Dr. Deming identified a fifth essential element of the quality system: He said that every system must have an aim. A system without an aim will not have an identity, and it will wander. Covey's "begin with the end in mind" habit also anticipates an aim for action as well as a plan. It is this aim which permits us to "put first things first" by building a system that is responsive to our aim rather than just reactive to its environment. The aim of a quality system is the quality vision of building and sustaining relationships.

The complete quality system, then, integrates five distinct dimensions of quality which underlie the Aim-Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle. The five dimensions of quality are 1) experience (do), 2) measurement (study), 3) relationships and systems (act), 4) interconnectivity and paradigm logic (plan) and 5) value sharing and vision (aim). The quality system begins with quality vision (aim) based on value sharing, and it brings this vision into actualization through a delivery system consisting of quality performance (experience), quality measurement, and quality systems, all in the context of a nurtured quality paradigm or framework.

An understanding of the five dimensions of quality can assist us in building a quality model that can assist in reviewing and fulfilling the quality needs in any organization. The three-part delivery system (performance, measurement, and systems and processes) constitute the shell, or surface structure or delivery system of any system. Lying beneath the surface are the paradigms upon which the delivery system is built. The paradigms are the eyeglasses through which we perceive the dynamics. It is this perception which influences the design of the delivery system.

Lying beneath the paradigms are the actual dynamics of a system, a market, or an industry--the physical, social, or moral forces that cause change or action in a system; or, the way in which change takes place in response to those forces. Different paradigms perceive these dynamics in different ways.

Until recently, 80-90% of quality training in most organizations focused on the delivery system--the tools and methods of quality. A small portion of training dealt with paradigms, but very little was spent on discovering and dealing with the underlying dynamics of the system. While the delivery system is important, a focus on it at the expense of the underlying dynamics could result in a visionless or aimless system that is not responsive to the dynamics and which in fact may run counter to the dynamics.

If the delivery system does not respond to the underlying customer dynamics, then there will be unmet customer needs, and the aim of quality--to build and sustain relationships--will not be realized, as customers seek other organizations which will fulfill those needs.

One company, an auto body repair shop, was lingering in such a state, with the typical auto body shop environment of an uninviting waiting room and a grease-pit image. Then the owner discovered an important dynamic: that women are the key decision makers in 70% of new car purchases (and, he postulated, in the majority of car repairs). This was a clear case in which the delivery system did not match the dynamics and, indeed, contradicted the dynamics. By simply modifying the delivery system to respond to the dynamics (washing the car after repair, providing a clean, neat waiting room, providing a woman facilitator) he was able to help his company's sales triple in one year: from $525,000 in 1985 to $1.6 million in 1986.

It was this very preoccupation of the quality industry itself with the delivery system rather than the underlying dynamics that made it difficult to see a clear connection between quality, which focused on the delivery system, and Covey's teachings, which focused on paradigms and dynamics. Even though (as explained below) the underlying dynamics of quality and principle-centered leadership are identical, the relationship between quality and principle-centered leadership was not clear because of the quality movement's focus on the technical, systemic aspects of quality and Covey's focus on the human development aspects. In fact, Covey recognizes this, noting that "In our training we emphasize the human side more than the technical side because we believe that the origin and essence of quality is empathy with customers...."(3)

It is the five dimension quality model which helps us recognize that the connection between quality and Covey is at the paradigm and dynamic levels rather than at the surface level. However, once we recognize the underlying paradigm and dynamics, we can design a single, complete, integrated delivery system which incorporates both principle-centered leadership and quality tools, rather than maintaining two separate delivery systems for Quality and principle-centered leadership. The advantage of integrating Covey into a single quality delivery system which fully responds to the underlying quality dynamics is that the focus can now be shifted to responding to the dynamics rather than maintaining the separate delivery systems. This can result in significant economies of time and energy as focus is shifted toward a single quality priority of building and sustaining relationships rather than separate priorities of applying the separate mechanics of principle-centered leadership and quality. The mechanics of principle-centered leadership, then, become an essential tool of quality rather than a separate, stand-alone management method.

A Comprehensive Definition of Quality

Until recently, a major difficulty with linking Covey with quality related to the definition of quality itself. There are two aspects to this problem. First was the absence of a universal quality definition that is embraced by all or at least a majority of quality practitioners. Second was the absence of a comprehensive definition which reflects the underlying dynamics of quality.

At a number of quality workshops and seminars we have asked the question, "How many of you have a definition of quality with which you are comfortable?" Only about 7% have responded that they do have such a definition. We then ask the rhetorical question, "If we don't know what quality is, then what are we pursuing?" This response adds significant insight to our challenge of linking Covey with quality. If we do not know what quality is, we do not know to what we are trying to link Covey's teachings. Moreover, Covey, who is a master of clear direction and purpose, is not interested in being linked with something that is obscure and not well defined. It is not enough to say of quality what the U. S. Supreme Court said of pornography: "We cannot define it, but we know it when we see it." Instead, we must have a definition of quality which provides a clear framework for understanding it.

A comprehensive definition of quality must reflect its underlying dynamics. This is critical to linking Covey with quality. A partial definition will reflect an incomplete paradigm and will be inadequate to provide a link to the comprehensive human development tools Covey has elucidated. Moreover, the definition must be broad enough to encompass not only the human side of quality which is Covey's focus, but also the traditional technical side of quality.

Some modern management experts use an incomplete or partial definition of quality to distance themselves from the identity crisis that quality has experienced recently. A common definition of quality used by management experts uses the "continuous improvement" definition of quality to narrow its scope. For example, Hammer and Champy, in Reengineering the Corporation note, "Nor is reengineering the same as quality improvement, total quality management (TQM), or any other manifestation of the contemporary quality movement."(4) They paint quality as assisting with incremental improvement and reengineering as generating quantum leap improvements. Yet in a number of seminars and presentations of the authors, the participants indicate their belief that reengineering, properly applied, has a lot to do with quality. In fact, the five dimension model provides a framework for redefining reengineering as a central quality function of "modifying the shell to respond to the substance," or of "modifying the delivery system to respond to the dynamics."

Covey's discussion of quality is similarly based on the continuous improvement paradigm. While the continuous improvement paradigm is a powerful paradigm, it is principally based in the technical side of quality, and it does not completely account for quality dynamics. It is only one aspect of the dynamics of quality.

The search for a definition of quality must focus on the underlying dynamics of quality, and those dynamics must be reflected in the aim of quality. As Dr. Deming notes, every system--even quality systems--must have an aim. What, then, is the aim of quality?

The aim or focus of a quality system is to build and sustain relationships among key participants. At seminars and workshops, we demonstrate the role of the aim of quality by asking whether the following goal is a quality goal: "Our goal is to improve profits by 30%." While increased profitability is very often a product of quality, the above goal may in fact be antithetical to quality. There are at least two simple ways to achieve the goal: raise prices or cut wages. Each of these approaches would have a short-term impact on increased profitability, but may have a severe long-term impact on the ability of the firm to retain its customers and employees and would be antithetical to quality. Consequently, this goal is not likely a quality goal because it may in fact lead to the destruction of relationships among key participants rather than the building and sustaining of those relationships.

The aim of quality, then, is to build and sustain relationships. Underlying any of the common definitions of quality is the goal, or aim, of building and sustaining relationships. Why do we seek zero defects or six sigma performance? Why to we seek conformance to requirements? Why do we seek to do the right thing right, on time, every time? We do all of these to build and sustain relationships. Why do we build into our products or services features that bear on their ability to satisfy stated or implied needs? Why do we continuously improve products or services? We do this to build and sustain relationships.

From this we derive a definition of quality that incorporates the aim of quality, yet (patterning the ANSI/ASQC definition(5)) also ties the aim of quality to a means of accomplishing that aim:

Quality is the on-going process of building and sustaining relationships by assessing, anticipating, and fulfilling stated and implied needs.

This definition is comprehensive enough to encompass the technical side of quality through its focus on fulfilling needs: the reduction of defects and the incorporation of pertinent features bear on the assessment and fulfillment of needs. Yet the definition is also broad enough to encompass the human side of quality, which Covey emphasizes: The building and sustaining of relationships. With this definition, Covey is not an outsider to quality, but an integral part of what quality is all about. In this context, for example, Covey's "emotional bank account" takes on new meaning as an essential tool in sustaining relationships. Trustworthiness and trust are essential to build the relationships necessary to support alignment and empowerment.

Because the relationship paradigm fully encompasses the dynamics of quality, it is broad enough to encompass both the continuous improvement paradigm of the technical side of quality as well as Covey's human development paradigm of principle-centered leadership. As a consequence, the shift from the continuous improvement paradigm to the relationship paradigm provides a much more effective framework for linking Covey with quality. The shift to the relational paradigm puts Covey at the center of quality rather than outside or on the fringes of quality development. It puts Covey and quality on the same playing field in the same uniform rather than in separate, disconnected universes or on opposite, competing teams. It makes the concepts surrounding principle-centered leadership central to human development and, consequently, central to quality development based on relationships. The total focus of Covey is in building relationships within organizations so that focus can shift from controlling behavior under the obsolete management paradigm to empowering participants to act for themselves in alignment with the needs of the organization under a leadership paradigm.

The Five Dimension Quality-Covey Link

The relational paradigm puts Covey squarely at the center of quality, but quality dynamics are so interconnected that this link is only the beginning of an even more integrated connection of Covey with quality. Interestingly, it is the five dimension structure which is manifest in the Aim-Plan-Do-Study-Act continuous improvement cycle that provides the foundation for this connection. This five dimension structure is a complete framework which underlies the entire quality paradigm, and it provides a common denominator for linking all quality-related principles, including those illuminated by Covey. Covey's teachings demonstrate that the five dimensions are as evident in the human development paradigm of quality as they are in the continuous improvement paradigm.

In some aspects the five dimension link with Covey is obvious (see chart below). Covey's reference to the physical dimension of our existence (Deming's "Do") refers to an experience function. The mental dimension (Deming's "Study") is a measurement function. The social/emotional dimension (Deming's "Act") is a relationship function. The spiritual dimension (Deming's "Plan") is an interconnectivity or paradigm function.

The touchstone of principle-centered leadership follows this same pattern: To Live (experience, do); To Learn (measurement, study); To Love (relationships, act); To Leave a Legacy (interconnectivity, plan).

The Five Dimensions of Quality Principle-Centered Leadership
Description Deming Maslow Psychology Dimensions Action Interaction Principle
5 Vision & Value Sharing Aim Actualization Needs Integrative


      (Emotional Bank Account)
4 Interconnectivity & Paradigm Logic Plan Esteem Needs Conative


Spiritual To Leave a Legacy Organization Alignment
3 Relationships & Systems Act Social Needs Affective


Social-Emotional To Love Management Empowerment
2 Measurement Study Safety Needs Cognitive


Mental To Learn Interpersonal Trust
1 Experience Do Survival Needs Behavioral


Physical To Live Personal Trustworthy

In other aspects, the five dimension link is not so obvious. Although we sense that the personal level is literally one dimension, the interpersonal is two, the management level is three, and the organization level is four (i.e., several layers or pockets of management), it is difficult to see how these relate to experience, measurement, relationships and systems, interconnectivity and paradigm logic, and vision and value sharing. However, it is this challenge which leads to the real power of the five dimension model to bring the essence and practice of quality to a personal level rather than continuing to view it as a separate organism with a life of its own (i.e., as "something out there"). It is this challenge that helps us to understand that, for better or worse, we are what our organization stands for (rather than just "we believe in, or are committed to, what our organization represents"). In addition, the distinct power of the five dimension model is that it helps us understand why the principles of quality and principle-centered leadership work, not just what they are and that they work.

The basic building blocks of personal quality deal specifically with the various configurations of what we can do: we can act; we can interact; we can connect; we can interconnect; and we can experience a higher consciousness, or communion, with our surroundings. It is upon these building blocks that the five dimension link of quality with principle-centered leadership becomes clear.

ac • tion The state or process of acting or doing.(6)

Action is a first dimension (experience) function. It is by acting on our vision that we are able to bring it into actualization. Action is doing. Covey notes an important element of action: we are free to choose our response, or action. However, action does not exist in a vacuum. Underlying action are the vision, the competencies and the paradigms on which it is founded. Competencies deal with a person's ability, or capability. They are a product of experience. As a person gains experience, it expands his or her frame of reference, increasing his or her ability to perform. How well we are able to act in response to particular need is a function of our competencies. On the other hand, why we act as we act is a function of our paradigm, and our basic desire to act is a function of our vision. If we have no vision, our acts may be random and without order or reason because there is no structure to hold them together. The nature of our paradigm can influence action. A greed paradigm may invoke a different action than a caring paradigm; or, the paradigms may invoke a similar action, with different underlying motives.

The competency, vision, and paradigms of an individual are what make up his or her character. Consequently, since action takes all of these into account, action can be a revelation of character. What a person chooses to do or chooses not to do can be an indication of his or her underlying nature. In this manner, action can reflect a person's underlying vision, because in the long run a person will not act--indeed, cannot act--inconsistent with his or her true vision. Thus, if a person's vision is completely in alignment with the vision of the organization, his or her actions will reflect the vision of the organization. In this manner, the person not only believes in or is committed to what the organization represents: he or she is what the organization represents. Covey notes that the way to determine what an organization truly stands for is to "push the culture"--to ask an employee to do something outside the normal protocol or procedure. The employee's response--such as the employee who let Dr. Covey use the hotel swimming pool outside normal pool hours--reveals what truly guides that person and the organization.

Covey identifies the operational principle at the personal level as trustworthiness. Covey notes that trustworthiness includes both competence (the ability to do what needs to be done) and the person's character (whether he or she will follow through). The action principle of quality is confidence. Confidence is a firm belief in one's powers, abilities, or capabilities. It denotes a feeling of emotional security resulting from faith in oneself. It is this level of being true to oneself that engenders trust and builds a trusting relationship. In quality, character includes everything that influences action, including competence (ability to act) as well as vision (desire to act) and paradigm (reason for acting). Character includes "a person's attributes, traits, or abilities."6

But what is it about a person's character that makes him or her trustworthy? It is our ability to rely on that person to be completely consistent with what he or she says or imply he or she will be--and for his or her actions to be for the common good. This concept is embodied in the concept of "confidence," or fidelity or trust within. The most powerful way for a person to develop trustworthiness is to be true to the truth within himself or herself, or to be true to his or her own values. When that condition exists, variation and inconsistency is reduced because the various actions are consistent (what he or she does is consistent with what he or she says or implies and what he or she does is consistent over time). The basic, most powerful, building block of trust, then, is confidence because it engenders internal and external consistency and makes it possible for others to continue to expect the actions they have always expected.

in • ter • ac • tion The act or process of interacting ("acting on each other").6

Interaction is a second dimension (measurement) function. While action can be taken at an individual, personal level, interaction involves action between two people. It raises the level of accountability from a personal measurement of internal integrity (whether a person is true to the truth within himself or herself) to one of accountability in relation to others or to a common good.

But accountability measures are not the only utilization of the measurement function in interaction. In fact, the measurement function plays a key role in interaction dynamics. Although there are a number of motives and circumstances surrounding interaction, the principal dynamics of interaction involve two key measurements by each participant in the interaction: 1) "What can I use?" and 2) "What can I contribute?"

The focus on one or both of these measurements, although normally unconscious, is a key building block of a personal paradigm. For example, a total focus on "what can I use" can lead to a greed-based paradigm, where the focus is on getting and hoarding resources without regard to the needs of other participants who may be supplying those resources. This is the foundation of the "scarcity mentality" described by Covey, and it destroys trust. On the other hand, a total focus on "what can I contribute" can "sink the ship" if needed resources are squandered. It is the fine-tuned balance between these two measurements that leads to not only contribution of resources to a common good (consecration) but also responsible use of resources (stewardship). It is the blending of these measurements that provides the foundation for empowerment, which entails the responsible use of resources for the common good (i.e., the vision) of the organization and its participants.

Without the contribution dynamic, the organization cannot entrust resources to the participants, and it will instead control the resources, further destroying the trust relationship. Lack of responsible use of resources is simply one form of using resources inconsistent with the vision of the organization and constitutes waste. This "loose cannon" dynamic builds on itself: the irresponsible use of resources (inconsistent with the organizational vision) erodes trust, resulting in the natural tendency to impose control in order to restore or maintain order; but the imposition of control actually further destroys trust.

These two measurements are also key elements of Dr. Robison's relational economic theory and Dr. Judd's psychology of quality. The Kii variable used by Dr. Robison represents the degree to which a person's self-interest is accounted for in a transaction or relationship, and the Kij variable represents the degree to which the transaction or relationship accounts for the needs of others. The interrelationship of these variables can provide a basis for seeing patterns of interaction. The most powerful pattern is the "delight the customer" pattern ("give customers more than they are paying for," or "dedicate resources to the customer"). This pattern is based on the value sharing paradigm: "If I give you something that is more valuable to you than it is to me, then together we are better off as a result of the trade." (For example, if I give you something worth $10 to you but worth $3 to me, then after the trade, we, together, are worth $10 rather than $3.) It is this very dynamic that is the foundation for three key quality measures: 1) participants willingly give more than required; 2) participants become "sustaining members" of the organization (long-term employees or repeat customers); and 3) participants "share the vision" of the organization (word-of-mouth advertising by customers, and employees creating positive "moments of truth" for customers). In fact, the second of these measures is one of the key measures of the National Quality Index: The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is in significant part based on the extent to which customers are repeat customers. This dynamic also underlies what Covey describes as deposits to an "emotional bank account" that assist in building relationships of trust.

The psychology equivalent of these measures is the responsibility/response-ability dynamic. Responsibility is just what it implies: reliability, or ability to be trusted or depended upon. Responsibility also is based on or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking. It relates to one's ability to make moral or rational decisions on one's own and therefore be answerable for one's behavior.6 Covey describes this as response/ability (ability to choose our response in accordance with our values rather than simply reacting according to our current mood or condition). Judd uses response-ability in a different sense to refer to one's ability to respond to the needs of others. It is this blend of responsibility and responsiveness to needs that provides the framework for delighting the customer.

The foundation of the American economic system has, until recently, been built on the "what can I use" side of the equation. This is what underlies the "invisible hand" described by Adam Smith. Consumer needs are satisfied by the "invisible hand" of a person's self-interested desire for gain which leads him or her to develop something of use which satisfies a need and which consequently provides him or her with the resources to supply the product and profit from its sale.

The American management system has likewise been built on the "what can I use" measure. The danger of the incentive-based systems is that it places the entire focus of the participants on the "what can I use" rather than "what can I contribute" function. In fact, it is this very dynamic that makes the management paradigm so inflexible, and so unresponsive to constantly changing customer dynamics.

In the management system, organizational leadership develops a vision or mission for the organization and then asks, "how can we best use our employees to achieve this mission?" Management then places goals and incentives in place for the employees and ties these incentives to the goals and mission of the organization. As the employees do the work necessary to achieve the incentives, the work of the organization is accomplished and its mission is fulfilled. But this very incentive structure is what makes the organization inflexible and unable to respond to the changing needs of customers. What happens if the dynamics of the market or industry change? The goals of the organization must also change or the organization will find itself unable to compete with organizations which are more responsive to customer needs. However, if the organizational goals and mission are changed, they are no longer consistent with the incentives. So the employees, working to achieve the incentives, are still working to achieve the outdated goals and mission. The answer, then, seems obvious: just change the incentives to match the new goals. Any manager who has tried to change the incentives knows the difficulty of this solution. Employees have been known to resist change even when it is for their benefit! The nature of the management environment, with its "what can I use" foundation, engenders a feeling among employees that any change by management must be for the good of management and not for the employees. An attempt to change incentives, then, only fuels the flames of mistrust.

The solution to this dilemma is not in changing the incentives and further reinforcing the "what can I use" dynamic. Rather, the solution lies in shifting to a "what can I contribute" dynamic. This cannot be done through a "shared sacrifice" approach if employees believe that they are the only ones expected to sacrifice. Rather, it is done through engendering a "delight the customer" or value sharing atmosphere. In Covey's terminology, the solution lies in making deposits to the "emotional bank account." The "what can I contribute" dynamic is at the heart of the "delight the customer" and "emotional bank account" paradigms. Focus is on the needs of internal and external customers, rather than on "what can I get from them."

What we need, then, is a model that is responsive to dynamics. This is the essence of leadership: in leadership the participants develop a vision, which is the common good in their relationship. This common good is a linking of the needs of the participants with the human, information, and capital resources which will fulfill those needs. Because the needs are an elemental part of vision, the vision is always responsive to the dynamics. As the dynamics change, the vision flexibly responds to that change by developing and linking whatever resources are needed to fulfill those needs. This is why the focus on strategic planning over the past ten years has shifted from precise projections of the future (founded in a "what can I use" dynamic) to strategic capability building (founded in a "what can I contribute" function) which flexibly responds to changing needs of customers. As Tom Peters emphasizes, "What strategic planning should be about is not precise projections of the future, but the construction of organizational skills and capability that will give us the potential to react to a fast-changing world. * * * In our fast-changing world, strategy must be driven by skills and capabilities, not by markets or products. We must build an incredibly solid machine that can respond to fast-changing markets."(7) The leadership model assists an organization in constantly "sharpening the saw" to always be responsive to needs of participants.

A shift to a contribution measure will also provide a solid foundation for building trust at Covey's interpersonal level. If the focus of each party to an interaction is on "what can I contribute" rather than "what can I use," then the focus of each can shift from the "scarcity mentality" of hoarding, protecting, and guarding one's own resources to the "abundance mentality" of truly fulfilling the needs of the other party. This engenders trust because it eliminates an element of mistrust: the concern that the other party has to be controlled so as not to abuse the relationship.

con • nec • tion The act of connecting. The state of being connected.

con • nect To join or fasten together. To become joined or united. To establish a rapport or relationship; to relate.6

Connection is a third dimension (relationships and systems thinking) function. Connection is more than interaction. It is interaction toward a common good in order to fulfill a common need. Nevertheless, interaction is the building block for connection. Connection is based on multiple interactions which are combined to provide the resources and competencies to achieve an end that could not be accomplished by any of the participants individually. Thus, connection performs a synergy function.

The team is the most effective tool of connection. Ideally the team will have all the participants needed to provide the competencies and resources to accomplish the vision of the team. But even the necessary resources and competencies will not be sufficient without the communication and contribution by team members. It is their contribution of their unique competencies and the resources related to those competencies that provides the synergy that makes the whole of the team greater than the sum of its individual parts or members. Just as the family is the basic unit of society, the team is the basic unit of the organization. Even in structured organizations, the team emerges as the de facto operational mechanism. Too much structure in an organization can kill the ability of the team to function effectively.

The size of a team can dramatically affect the communication and contribution function With a team of three there are three possible interactions: an interaction between each team member. With a team of four there are six possible interactions. With a team of five there are ten possible interactions. The number of possible interactions increases on a curvilinear basis as the number of team members increases. The formula is the summation of 1+2+...+(n-1), where n represents the number of team members. The number of possible interactions for a team of ten members is 45 (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9).

Because of the complexity of team dynamics, an essential principle of connection is alignment. It is alignment that provides the integrating power to raise interaction to the level of connection. While Covey identifies alignment as a fourth-dimension organizational principle, it is essential that alignment begin at the team level. In fact, alignment is essential for effective empowerment: a "loose cannon" is a person who is given authority and resources to act, but whose actions are not in alignment with the team or organization's vision. It is alignment at the team level that provides the team's reason for being. The contribution of team members must be in the context of the purpose of the team in order to fully support the synergy of the team.

Alignment is so important that it becomes an essential element of any contractual relationship. The contract, whether written or oral, becomes an expression of the intention of the parties with respect to one or more interactions. It reflects a "meeting of the minds." The alignment flows from the expression of intention, which verbalizes how each party is expected to act. Often the contract is more than a memorialization of the intent of the parties, but is also a means of legally enforcing action. When this purpose becomes the primary focus of the contract, the contract becomes a surrogate, or substitute, for trust, to ensure that alignment is maintained. This very dynamic represents a fundamental difference between how the Japanese view the contract (as an expression of intention) and how Americans view the contract (as a legally enforceable document).

in • ter • con • nec • tion To be connected with each other. To connect reciprocally.6

Interconnection is a fourth dimension (interconnectivity or paradigm logic) function. It is interconnection which permits us to see things through "different eyes" and to expand our frame of reference. As a consequence, interconnection assists us in "seeking first to understand" by permitting us to see things through the eyes of customers and other participants. The paradigm is an elemental part of interconnection, because it creates the environment in which the organization operates. An organization built on a paradigm of distrust will have a much greater structure through rules, policies, and procedures than one built on a paradigm of trust.

The paradigm provides the logic for the behavior of an organization. What may appear as illogical under one paradigm may be completely logical under another. For example, under a distrust paradigm, it would be illogical to give employees authority and resources to act outside of well-defined parameters. But under a "win-win" trust paradigm, such authority is perfectly logical.

Organizational leadership plays a very important role in molding the paradigm of the organization. Covey notes that a manager with a "scarcity mentality" will build destructive competition right into the structure of the organization.

Interconnection is the fabric which permits interaction among teams and between teams and individuals outside the team. But it is essential to understand that, while the team or organization may be perceived as an entity, all interaction will take place between individuals. This heightens the importance of each person's vision being in alignment with the vision of the team and the organization, and each person having the authority to act as necessary. The actions of the person actually involved in the interaction will help formulate the other person's perception of the team or organization. If the vision of the interacting team member is not in alignment with the vision of the team, the other person will nevertheless attribute those actions to the team, and will thus incorrectly perceive the vision of the team. On the other hand, with alignment, the "moments of truth" in which action is taken consistent with the vision of the team will actually reinforce positive perceptions of the vision of the team. Moreover, the person with whom the team member is interacting may be part of one or more broader, unseen network(s) or team(s), and the positive interaction will serve as a stimulus for that person to share the vision of the team or organization within his or her network (i.e., through word-of-mouth advertising).

Corporate character is a product of all interactions with the members of an organization. If all are in alignment with the desired corporate vision, then the corporate character will reflect the desired corporate vision. If that alignment does not exist, then corporate character will reflect something other than that vision.

Empowerment is the principle that is essential for effective interconnection. Through empowerment (authority to use resources as needed, consistent with vision) a person can assist in meeting needs when they arise as they arise, rather than having to obtain approval from team members or superiors. This makes the empowered team member much more responsive to the needs of internal and external customers. With alignment already in place as part of team dynamics, the team member can be trusted to use the resources appropriately, so imposition of strict controls is not necessary. However, it is important that alignment extend beyond team boundaries to the organization level, to ensure that sub-optimization does not take place to the detriment of the organization.

com • mun • i • ty A group of people having common interests; sharing; participation.

com • mun • ion The act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings.

com • mune To be in a state of intimate, heightened sensitivity and receptivity, as with one's surroundings.6

Community, or communion, takes us beyond the organization boundaries to the broader world community. Communion entails sharing and sensitivity. It is the epitome of the response-ability (responsiveness) side of the interaction dynamic. It is communion that provides the heightened sensitivity and receptivity to our surroundings. This assists us in recognizing and understanding dynamics and in responding to needs.

One characteristic of quality over the past decade is that organizational boundaries have become fuzzier as organizations have become more responsive to customer needs and have extended themselves to the broader world community. Many organizations now see themselves as part of this community rather than simply as traders dealing with this community.

H. Ross Perot provides an example of the sensitivity and receptiveness that communion can provide. He was flipping channels on cable television when he noticed a program in which Steve Jobs was describing his latest computer project. Perot said, "I was riveted to the screen, and I found myself completing his sentences." This dynamic is becoming more and more common as focus in quality has shifted to "delight the customer." Many customers are now discovering products on the market that fill their needs so well that they themselves could have designed these products. This responsiveness to customer needs transcends the outmoded customer satisfaction standard and approaches a new level at which individual and organizational focus is truly toward "what can I contribute" rather than "what can I use."

This new level is described by Covey as "the law of the unenforceable." Under this principle, it is obedience to the unenforceable (i.e., giving more than required) that provides the foundation for building and sustaining relationships. The law of the unenforceable is, by its nature, a "what can I contribute" principle, because it does not require return compensation. This is the identical principle involved in the value sharing and "delight the customer" paradigm. It is the foundation for extending the organization to its place in the community. Its touchstone is "to live in harmony" as the organization freely and voluntarily makes its contribution to society.

The Five Dimensions of Quality Blended Principle-Centered Leadership (Modified)
Description Deming Building Blocks Basic Unit Principle Interaction Action Principle
5 Vision & Value Sharing Aim Communion Community Contribution (Community) (To Live in Harmony) (Emotional Bank Account)
4 Interconnectivity & Paradigm Logic Plan Interconnection Organization Empowerment Organization To Leave a Legacy Alignment
3 Relationships & Systems Act Connection Team Alignment Management To Love Empowerment
2 Measurement Study Interaction Interpersonal Trust Interpersonal To Learn Trust
1 Experience Do Action Personal Confidence Personal To Live Trustworthy

Corporate Orienteering

The linking of Covey with quality permits us to integrate the map of quality with the compass of principle-centered leadership. Covey notes that a map will not get us very far in our constantly changing world, so we need to be guided by a compass with "true north" principles. However, the map does have value. In fact, it has great value if we recognize that the landscape is constantly changing and the map needs to be continually updated. Moreover, when the map is used with the compass, they become powerful, synergistic tools whose value exceeds the value of either the map or the compass separately.

The integrated use of the map and compass to traverse a terrain is called orienteering. Nicknamed "cunning running," orienteering is known as "the thinking sport." It is competitive pathfinding with map, compass, and brainpower. With a map different from any other participant's map, team members must "translate at a trot, decoding 'on the go'" and checking in at control points. It is more a sport of trail and error than trial and error, and if the participants zig when they should have zagged, they will become disoriented and will end up taking the "bailout" route for the befuddled.(8)

In today's rapidly changing marketplace, corporate orienteering is not a game or a sport. Rather, it is a lifeline. Its proper use can spell the life of an organization. Its misuse can spell the organization's death. Each organization's map is different from any other. The map has to be constantly interpreted, checked at control points, and updated--on the run. It is impossible for an organization to find its way with a map alone or with a compass alone. It is only in using the map with the compass that the organization can know which way to go and how to get there.

In corporate orienteering, the map is the corporate delivery system, including the performance, the measurements, and the systems and processes that enable the organization to build and sustain relationships with its key participants. The compass is the set of principals which assist the organization to build and sustain its relationships with its participants, including confidence, trust, alignment, empowerment, and contribution. These principles help establish the paradigms, or eyeglasses through which we can observe the dynamics of our relationships, so that we can be prepared to change the map (modify the system) if we observe that the terrain has changed. The linking of market needs with an organization's resources is much more effective under a leadership model (in which vision is the linking of needs with resources) than in a management model (in which incentives become the driving force and obscure the true underlying needs, particularly as needs change). Leadership permits the map to be updated by those on the front line who traverse the terrain rather than those in ivory towers who obscure the link by placing structured incentives in the path of vision. This process of observing shifts in dynamics and modifying the delivery system to respond to the new dynamics epitomizes the learning organization. It permits organizations to retain their organizational learning by making it part of their system and to, consequently, make their future more secure.


The five dimension quality model, with its dynamics-based vision, with its paradigms, and with its delivery system (consisting of performance, measurement, and systems and processes), along with the relational paradigm, provide a solid foundation for encompassing Covey's principle-centered leadership totally within the quality framework. This makes principle-centered leadership central to the quality process rather than a competing management theory, and provides a synergistic tool for using quality and principle-centered leadership as a map and a compass to build and sustain relationships.

Interestingly, the five parts of the model correspond to the five irreducible parts of Dr. Covey's Win-Win Performance Agreement: 1) What is covered (i.e., the aim, or vision, of this particular relationship); 2) What are the parameters in which it exists (i.e., the paradigm which provides the framework in which this relationship can flourish); 3) What resources will be needed (i.e., the experience, the competencies, and the information and capital resources needed to bring the vision into actualization); 4) What accountability is there (i.e., what are the measurements that verify that the system is working); and 5) What are the consequences (i.e., what are the natural, or systemic results that can be expected from the operation or failure of the relationship or system).


1. Covey, Stephen R., Principle-Centered Leadership, New York: Summit Books, 1993, pp. 261-264.

2. Karl N. Llewellyn, The Bramble Bush, Oceana Publications, 1960.

3. Covey, p. 259.

4. Hammer, Michael, and Champy, James, Reengineering the Corporation (New York: HarperBusiness), 1993.

5. "Quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs." ANSI/ASQC. 1987 Quality Systems Terminology, American National Standard A3-1987.

6. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992).

7. Peters, Tom, Thriving on Chaos (Chicago: Nightingale-Conant Corporation, 1987).

8. Reale, Paul J., "The Thinking Sport," Scouting, September, 1994, page 30.


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