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#1  Can You Say, “My business is flourishing”?

flour·ish v. 1. To grow well or luxuriantly; thrive. 2. To do or fare well; prosper.  3. To be in a period of highest productivity, excellence, influence.

How would it feel when asked, “How’s your business?” and you could reply, “Flourishing.” Take a moment…think about it.

Can you say your business is flourishing? When we ask business leaders, most would love to have a thriving business, most don’t, and most don’t think it’s possible. In fact, expectations have sunk to all time lows. That is, except those who have chosen to build a flourishing business.

Pursuing business health is a lot like pursuing personal health. In other words healthy businesses focus on the big drivers of health, not just a series of simplistic solutions.

Personal Story: Several years ago I went to my doctor for a physical and found I had high cholesterol – the bad kind. My doctor wanted to prescribe medication. I wanted to try changing my diet first, asked for dietary advice, and got none (no vested interest in the solution.) The common wisdom concluded the best opportunity was to reduce high fat foods. I did. No effect on my cholesterol.

So I started the medication but had a hard time staying on it. (I don’t like taking medication in general, its expensive and I had no way of measuring my cholesterol every day. I couldn’t see progress and stopping had no visible consequence.)

Then my wife and I watched a documentary on how foods affect health. The science illustrated, in very easy to understand terms, how different big food groups interact with our bodily systems to effect health.

The next day we changed the way we eat. After 6 weeks, my cholesterol returned to healthy levels. My weight dropped by 16 pounds. My enjoyment of food has not diminished in the least. And cooking has proven to be no harder than before.

What happened that was different? We suddenly knew what would work … and WHY.

Along the way, the “tactical” fix – medication – wasn’t even needed. New habits were substituted for old ones, without changing the fundamental work to plan and prepare or the enjoyment of our food.

Taking medication is a very popular, best practice solution to high cholesterol. But it’s tactical because it is directed at reducing cholesterol, not improving health. In fact the way the medicine is used is generally to counteract bad eating habits that continue. I no longer tried to overcome bad eating with a simplistic “best practice” – taking medicine, reducing fat, etc.

I achieved clarity about WHY and HOW foods impacted my health. Not only that, it’s been enjoyable and at the end of the day I’m proud of my health and the fact that pants I haven’t worn for years now fit.

Chasing best practices in business often works the same way. If you aren’t making an enduring commitment to an overall set of underlying effective principles, or “drivers”, of business health, a best practice program may reduce the “cholesterol” in your business, but not fundamentally change its overall health.

Over the next weeks we’ve decided to start a discussion about this, and share what we’ve learned about underlying principles, or drivers, that put businesses on the path to being healthy and flourishing, not just a tactically well-medicated one on a low fat diet. We hope you’ll join us in that discussion. This is part #1 in a series — but is also intended to stand alone.

Simplifying Complexity is Powerful