Franklin Covey plays the race card

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My Microsoft migration continues. Having replaced Explorer with Firefox, and Outlook with Gmail, I needed to find a replacement for Outlook’s calendar. I struck upon Franklin Covey’s PlanPlus for Windows XP.

Very useful, it is, too. But what struck me was the design.

First, the splash page of the program, the one that loads each morning, shows an African American male who appears to be about 35 years old (as above).

Typically, “diversity” as a cultural agenda encourages commercial players to show, say, four people in an ad or package, one of whom is African American. This is one of the communications clichés of our age and in a hundred years they will smirk at us for it. I don’t mean that it’s not a good idea, just that it is by this time a somewhat labored one. There are, to be sure, one or two cases in which an African American appears alone, and in this case, it is almost always an African American woman. I don’t think I have ever seen a corporation use an African American man alone.

The Franklin Covey image changes things quite substantially. This African American model does not stand for all African American consumers. He stands for all consumers, plain and simple. He stands for us all. The splash page dares to show our collective face as an African American one. Splendid. At a stroke (splash?), Franklin Covey has replaced a patronizing strategy of representation with something like real inclusion, a consumer society so integrated that any part of the whole can stand for the whole of the whole, as it were. Of course, we are not yet completely integrated, but I think this is one of the ways societies can work our way in that direction. Splendid, splendid, splendid.

But the theme of diversity shows up elsewhere in the software. When you evoke the “big compass” aspect of the program, you are invited to specify your most important life objectives according a variety of roles. I remember looking in on PlanPlus software about 5 years ago, and I don’t remember seeing reference to “role.” If it is new, it means that Franklin Covey has moved to embrace a second notion of diversity, what we might call the diversity within.

I believe that “diversity within” is one of the big cultural issues of our day. We are all of us much more diverse as individuals; we construct and occupy more deeply diversified portfolios of self. This aspect of diversity has been relatively obscured by the notion of diversity as racial, gender, sexual inclusiveness, by “diversity without.” More’s the pity. “Diversity without” is a pressing issue, but “diversity within” will be the deeper, more lasting, more important development in our culture.

Anyhow, we find Franklin Covey rising even to this occasion. It is perhaps well known that Franklin Covey has roots in the community of the Latter Day Saint’s. It is perhaps less well know that some members of this community have been unhappy that the Franklin Covey software sometimes leans away from church teachings in the direction of a new age view of the world. And so we may take it for granted that the Franklin Covey decision makers had to take their courage in both hands to incorporate “roles” as part of the software.

So it’s courage on both counts. Franklin Covey gives us diversity without and diversity within. In the case of the former, they risk their enterprise to achieve a larger social good. In the case of the latter, they advance enterprise by speaking to new realities.

Capitalism, it’s just the strangest, most interesting thing.

11 thoughts on “Franklin Covey plays the race card

  1. Ennis

    Roles and Goals have long been a part of the Covey / 7 Habits philosophy, since they were using paper organizers. The previous bits of software used to differ more from the paper organizer, and were a bit clunky.

  2. Mike

    I’ve been using the Franklin day planner since 1995. The idea of “roles” entered into the day planner when Franklin joined with Covey.

    The Franklin method focused more on tasks and goals. As a result, my daily tasks felt more like duties or obligations to fulfill.

    Once they merged with Covery, the idea of roles came in to play. By attaching roles to each of his tasks, the user of the organizer was asked to attach meaning to his actions.


  3. Michael

    I’ve been using the Franklin System since 1987 and have been using the same idea (and often the software) on various PDAs since 1997. I do NOT use Covey’s roles and goals adaptation because I find full meaning in my daily actions (aka the Prioritised Daily Tasks List.) My PTDL is fully rooted in and comes about only as small daily steps toward my becoming ‘who I wanted to be.’ THIS is defined by my Governing Values and my Long Range and Intermediate Goals that will help me get to be that person. (As with Ben Franklin’s example when he started the whole idea, it is the Journey and intent to improve that matters most, not the actual attainment of perfection in any of these Governing Values.)

    Indeed as Hyrum Smith (the original Franklin guru) said in the original instructional course…”When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace.” I don’t need to ‘sharpen a saw’ in order to work toward being the person I want to be. My roles are priorities, but they are so as Governing Values.

    More on topic…doesn’t the new PlanPlus for XP software require the Outlook engine to operate? How does this aid you in your (admirable) goal of migration away from Windows?

  4. Grant

    Ennis and Mike, thanks for the clarification on the roles thing. Best, Grant

    Michael, sharing that background info, very interesting, and, no, I didn’t know that I was still using the Outlook engine. The Microsoft empire is harder to escape than I thought. Thanks again, Grant

  5. Andrew

    I’ve used Franklin (and then Franklin covey products since 1991.

    I’ve never really taken to using the roles and goals part of it. Like Michael I rely upon the original formula taught by Hyrum Smith. For me, roles and goals can be useful however when looking at the first part of the old process, namely your Vision.

    Vision can contain descriptions of who you are, and who you see yourself being; these things can be stated in the language of roles and in that way take on board notions of inner diversity.

    Vision is an iterative process tied in deeply with Governing Values. Values not only indicate how you will priorities your tasks but also how and with what “moral compass” you will attain your goals.

    The Franklin Covey software comes in two versions. One for use within Outlook the other as a standalone windows product.

  6. Stephen Covey 7 Habits Blog Owner

    I agree that the four ethnic-types approach is silly and condescending to viewers. For one thing, what about the millions who are Arab/Mediterranean/Indian-looking but *not* Spanophones?! No, no, all that counts is “black, white, Asian (meaning East Asian) and hispanic.”

  7. tami

    I was using FranklinCovey’s paper planner for several years and have just recently moved to their online CRM call . It is the first technology that I seen with proven methodology behind it. Thought you might want to check it out – Tami

  8. tami

    I was using FranklinCovey’s paper planner for several years and have just recently moved to their online CRM call . It is the first technology that I seen with proven methodology behind it. Thought you might want to check it out – Tami

  9. tami

    I was using FranklinCovey’s paper planner for several years and have just recently moved to their online CRM call . It is the first technology that I seen with proven methodology behind it. Thought you might want to check it out – Tami

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