A few years ago, I was with Dr. Steve Isaac, an agricultural economics professor at University of Kentucky, and Kevin Ferguson, an Extension Specialist at University of Tennessee, when we heard of the H.U.T. Principle for the first time. Specifically, one needs to hear, understand, and take action. Since that time, the principle has become very popular in education, academics, farming and agribusiness.
In our digital age of social media and constant information, I am observing some challenges with the important management principle of hear. While the world is more connected, there seems to be a decline in the quality and focus of communications. In fact, for many, the constant stream of information can lead to feeling overwhelmed. In a recent publication of The Economist magazine, one article indicated that the constant interruption from mobile devices is reducing overall productivity. The article stated that once concentration and focus are broken, it can take up to 30 minutes to re-engage in the task at the level present prior to the interruption. This certainly indicates that at least occasionally one needs to turn off the technology and hear the silence in order to focus on the task ahead.
The next step in the H.U.T. principle is to understand. In some cases, tunnel vision can be a benefit, but it can also be an inhibitor of forward thinking. One needs to adopt a big-picture approach of understanding that includes global economics and trends, inside and outside of the business. The U part of the principle also extends to one’s personal life and involves a balanced, objective approach to priorities and decision-making. Sometimes a challenge, or even a shock, is just what is needed to break the comfort zone and jumpstart the ability to understand.
Finally, the well-known Nike slogan, “Just do it” is an appropriate descriptor of the last part of the principle, take action. Of course, there are consequences for both action and inaction, but the T does not allow room for the “would-could-should” game to rob energy from the present. While all factors are assessed in the previous step of the principle, the controllable factors are actively managed in the take action part of the equation.
In every area, the H.U.T. principle lays out the most balanced approach. Whether it is getting the right information, setting aside quiet time to focus, or getting the work done, my colleagues and I have repeatedly seen the success of the H.U.T. approach in business and life.