If your ladder isn't leaning against the right wall...

By Claire Munro

If your ladder isn't leaning against the right wall, every step gets you to the wrong place faster

With August being (ever so slightly!) quieter here at Dovetail Towers, we’ve been reviewing our business plans for the rest of the year. I’ve never found a better business book than Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits so as part of the process we’ve begun with the end in mind and taken the time to reflect on our values. As Covey says: if your ladder isn’t leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.

What we found was that thinking about who we are and how we want to work helped us to shape the plans for the rest of the year, but it also reminded us what the company is for – it’s really important to us to bring together our skills and experience from many years of working in pharma and medical communications and apply them to helping our clients make a difference to patients’ lives.

Reviewing our purpose has made it easier to do the business planning, and made us feel ready for the months ahead. If you’ve got some time before everything kicks off after the holidays I’d recommend getting your team together to list the principles that inspire you. You’ll be surprised how motivating it feels.

Here’s ours:

  1. Putting patients at the heart of everything we do. Not just talking about it, really doing it. This might involve consulting patient organisations, inviting expert patients’ views, or simply taking a moment to put ourselves in their shoes. My current favourite example of this comes from the brilliant Pearl Avery, clinical nurse specialist. When she needs to look up or enter information on the patient management system during a consultation she simply turns the computer screen to share the information with the patient. Simple, effective, thoughtful, collaborative.
  2. Making sure that everything we do benefits everyone involved: look for the sweet spot that allows you to meet the needs of all your major stakeholders. If there isn’t one, re-think the project.
  3. Supporting our clients to do the best job they can do. Because we’ve done some of those jobs ourselves and – just sometimes – we were lucky enough to work with agencies who did that for us.
  4. Commitment to personal development – for ourselves, yes, but also for our clients and the clinicians we work with. So we’ll share methods and techniques we’ve found useful, or include elements of skills training so we’re always learning.