According to the World Health Organization, Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally. Most of these diseases can be prevented by addressing our daily behaviourial routines which influence our diet, tobacco usage and physical activity. It is shocking that more people die from heart diseases than from any other cause. The heart is definitely the core driver of the human body. What is even more shocking is that the number of deaths due to CVDs is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030. Now imagine if our businesses could learn a thing or two from the human body? I believe the results of how well business operates would improve. Understanding is key. Given we understand that if we do not take care of our bodies, we risk shortening our life span -- understanding the business as a human body should improve the health status of our businesses. If we were to establish a business model based on the human body, would we treat our business differently?
This brings us directly to the first part to explore -- the business heart. The business heart, just like the human heart is a critical part of the business. Given blood is a core component of the heart we can correlate blood with one particular important part of the business. The blood of the business body is without question the people. People make the heart of the business beat. People give the business heart a pulse. So what is this Business heart and why do we need to think of it like a human body?
To answer that -- let's establish that the business heart is the core driver of the business values and its processes which are driven by its people. If we saw the business heart as a human heart, would we not be doing everything we can to not only make it healthy but maintain its healthy state? Because this is what drives the business. Without a healthy business heart, the journey to good businesses and workplaces is dead.
There is something interesting about mapping business like a human body. First and foremost, it allows you to see business using a different angle. Secondly, it inspires one to model business using a system that has been extensively studied and is kept together by nature. Thirdly, allowing yourself to see the body as a business system -- lets you rethink and question unnatural business processes or business abnormalities that stagger businesses impact as good business. Untill now good business has been correlated with social initiatives like Corporate social responsibility which has largely had a neutral impact on financial outcomes or as Social businesses that make profit and measure impact using social KPIs. However there have been no models that completely integrated the idea of good business within the system and correlated this or used this as a measure of the businesses overall performance. This is unnatural because if you look at the human body -- a good and healthy body is a measure of the integrated system of your body. If your heart stops beating you are dead.
So if a business heart stops beating it's dead business. Dead business can't be good business. We have so many walking dead businesses that are still raking high financial gains at the expense of the business body.
Our body has a network of blood vessels -- arteries, veins and capillaries that form the circulatory system. Now imagine we would map business like the circulatory system, identify the key components and consistently measure these components performance like we would the human body. The circulatory system critical components are the heart, blood and blood vessels. Maintaining a healthy circulatory system is essential to minimize the risk of Cardiovascular diseases which are the leading cause of deaths across the globe. In my opinion, unhealthy business circulatory systems are the leading cause of corrupt, sick and bad businesses and workplaces. Let us dissect the business circulatory system components which will form our key model to the critical parts of a good business. Through out these key parts it is important to keep in mind that these parts are based on the human heart circulatory system anatomy.
As a vital organ, this is the center of the business and its workplaces. The heart of the business is the symbol of its life. No wonder it belongs to fire in the five elements. Galen of Perganon, the physician, highlighted the heart as a seat of emotion. The heart in this case is the why factor and door to the business intent and its motivation. The heart is a representation of the business balues. To ensure good business the intent, motivation and values of a business must be clear and cannot be comprised. The why factor is the most important first component that drives the heart of the business. Why are you doing what you do? Why should your employees wake up every morning to work with you as a business? Most co-operates are slowly shifting their values as the markets tighten -- some workplaces are now driven by the sole purpose of maintaining their cash flows and people go to work for their paychecks. Period. Good business must inspire a reason to work beyond monetary compensations. Good Business does not compromise on principle.
Without doubt, millennials are shifting the ideas of traditional business models. Millennials are driven by impact and impact influences profit not vice versa. Hence the business heart of good business must answer the why factor and maintain it.
Aristocles writings about the heart are eye opening. The heart is the first of all parts to be formed; and no sooner is it formed that it contains blood. We will get to the second part of the business circulatory system -- the blood -- its people. The important thing to note is that the heart is formed first. The day to day business is driven by its core values. The why factor is the first step to every business model that plans to be the leader of good business and workplaces. The beginning of life to any business is its business heart. The business heart state becomes the measure of good business. This should be the dominating part. It brings the business senses to life. It awakens the motion and hence direction of the Business.
Another fascinating fact is that the human heart has no bone structure -- it does however have sinews. The horse does have a bone as a support. This is worth the exploration for growing business bodies. In essence this proves that even business values, its intent and motivation also requires a solid support structure in order to function. The bigger your business grows, the stronger you should support your values and maintain your motivation for the growing business. You can't afford to have a sinews as your business heart support when you are the size of a horse.
Good Business should be lean, in the most literal sense. I am talking about six sigma here. Although Lean Six Sigma is also a good for creating great business. As funny as it may seem a good business body just like a healthy heart should ensure it has large cavities in its business heart (we will also discuss the cavities as the third and final part of the circulatory system -- the cavities represent the business systems -- large cavities are a symbol of inclusive businesses which are not narrowed down by crippled systems )
Animals with large cavities are never fat. As Aristocle writes when vessels are indisctinct or cavities small -- the animal in all or most cases is fat.
Obese businesses are a representation of businesses that contribute to inequality. A good business is lean.
Lastly, the most amazing fact about the heart is that it cannot tolerate any affection as Aristotle describes. As the core part of the body in humans -- so it is for the business. If this part is diseased -- the business is more or less dead. It is the center of distribution of the life of a business. Unlike other body parts which can be infected by stones or growths like the kidney,lungs, the spleen and Liver, the heart has minimal room for damage. This is the basis of the business which is reflected in the impact it makes on its body and communities it resides in. Some businesses confuse policy and values. Policy doesn't influence values. Values influence policy. In traditional Chinese medicine, the symbolic reference of the heart is seen as the center of shén " Spirit of consciousness" 神 shén
The heart in this case is the why factor influenced by the business core values. It is the door to the business intent and its motivation.
This is the body fluid that delivers the nutrients and oxygen to the cells as well as carries waste away from these cells. It is the representation of the people that bring life to the business heart.
Having the right people in your business is not the only criteria to good business. Maintaining the balance of the right people is key. People are the driver of your business and workplaces. Some businesses make the mistake of treating people like slaves to machinery. People are empowered by machinery not vice-versa. Having spent time in a production facility, one of the major breakthroughs is when projects are able to use tools as enablers for workers. When you think of the composition of blood, it makes one think of the business structures we have modelled. Blood constitutes of plasma which I see as the tools and structures used by people in business to drive the business day to day goals.
Plasma is 55% of the blood fluid. It contains glucose and dissolved nutrients as well. In essence Plasma helps blood to clot and transport substances. Plasma are those tools that assist the various people to drive business. Like any diverse system, different blood cells perform different critical tasks. Red blood cells are those people critical to drive business processes. White blood cells are those essential to protect your work environment. Platelets, I would like to call human resources -- this allows us to even question the ideologies of human resources in the next part of this series.
Thinking of people as drivers of the business like blood in the heart, also allows one to explore the various blood conditions and correlate them to similar business conditions.
Seeing how the body reacts in such conditions is a good way to see if we can apply nature to solve more of the business problems we face today. The aim is to challenge the current Business processes and models. A simple example is anemia -- when you don't have the right amount of red blood cells your body is tired. In the same way when you do not have the right amount of people staffed for critical tasks you wear down your business. There has been a high rise of business cutting down on head costs as productivity, however there is fine line. Good business draws the line to ensure it flourishes and keeps a healthy blood circulation in its system.
The Blood Vessels
Blood vessels should act as channels created by business for its people to prosper. These are the systems the business uses -- from its hiring channels, Support platforms to its resource use policies. Constricted systems have been shown to hinder business diversity which also staggers participation and increases inequality across various social classes. Constricted Business vessels lead to fat businesses that have low diversity, unjustified pay discrepancies across various groups and high compensations for very few people at the top of the business model.
Like the great vessel and the aorta are separate vessels and still contribute to the main function of the heart, the business systems must be integrated to contribute to the whole structure of its circulatory systems.
In conclusion, I believe businesses that will model themselves like the human body and go on to understand their body in great detail like human anatomy will win.
Read more upcoming Human Business Booklets - modelling business using human anatomy here
Coming Next -- How to measure your Business heart performance