Sharpening the Saw and Digging the Channel: How We Work at Evive Health

Recently, some colleagues and I attended the Design for Action conference here in Chicago. At one of the sessions, Dr. Steven Wendell laid out an interesting scenario: Imagine you find a fish flopping around on the ground. You and the fish share a common goal of the fish getting back in the water. How can you accomplish this? Option A: Yell at the fish to get back in the water. Option B: Pick up the fish, and place it in the water. Option C: Dig a channel so the fish can swim back to the water.

At Evive Health, we strive to be channel-diggers. By choosing Option C, we dismiss the assumption that the fish has the ability to get back into the water by itself, and we avoid enabling the fish to rely on us to get where it needs to go. Instead, we prefer to create an environment that allows the fish to carry out the desired action on its own and reach its goal.

How do we become effective channel-diggers? It starts with the concept of “sharpening the saw,” an idea from Stephen Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where he relates the importance of “preserving and enhancing your greatest asset—you.” In other words, we invest in ourselves.

At Evive, we do this by taking the time to learn, to re-engage, to refresh. Sometimes we do that by participating in conferences like the one mentioned above, where we attend sessions like Users as Heroes, Emotional Design for Behavior Change, and Designing for Hope and Health. And often, we do it through our office book club. In the few months our book club has been active, we’ve uncovered insights from five different books (that’s almost 2,000 pages read) on a range of topics. We’ve discussed ideas about interacting with our clients and with each other from the best-seller How to Win Friends and Influence People, and we’ve gained an insider’s perspective into Google’s inner-workings in Work Rules! Our book club meetings and attendance at conferences bear the same fruit: We hear different perspectives, learn from each other, and leave inspired.

It keeps us curious, and excited to apply our learnings to our product design, client interactions, and workplace, whether it’s finding additional ways to create a motivating and engaging work environment, or implementing an innovative client-facing behavioral science insight.

When we sharpen the saw, when we’re channel-diggers for ourselves, we can dig better channels for our end-users. And that’s empowering, for everyone. What are some ways you invest in yourself or your employees to sharpen the saw?