Business Fitness: Lessons Learned From The Stomach

There are a lot of parallels between the physiology of our bodies and how a business is run.

For example:

– The brain is the command center for the body, just as the CEO is the command center for the business.

– Both rely on multiple systems. A business has multiple deparments – marketing, pr, communications, hr, it, legal, etc … while the body also has multiple organisms and organs – red/white blood cells, hormones, receptors, organelles, etc … All of these systems act independently and are concerned for their own well-being, yet function as one whole.

Think about this for a moment – it takes roughly 20 minutes after eating in order for food to reach our intestines, and for the signal to be sent to our brain letting us know that we are full. How many of us power through our lunches or dinners, worried that we’re taking too much time?

Lets say that you speed through your meal in 5 minutes. Guess what – you will still be hungry because you dont have the sensation of satiety. So what do you do? You eat more. Our bodies, in turn, take those extra calories we consumed and convert them into fat to store for later in case we come across a period when food is scarce. Over-time we became fat and sluggish, and our systems start to fail us.

So what does this have to do with business? Well – the same is true in the business world.

If you have poor reporting structures – if it takes a long time for information to get through the channels – then your business becomes sluggish. You wont be able to adapt to the marketplace as quickly, or respond to changes within the business. Messages from the CEO to employees, or employees to the CEO become muddled. Departments squabble and worry more about whats happening to their budgets or personnel instead of the business as whole. Eventually the business stops innovating and either fails, becomes surpassed, or broken up and it’s pieces sold.

In Physiology there is a saying of ‘cutting the head off from the body’ – that is, to think more about how the body is functioning and forgetting about how the head can affect it (the reverse is true for psychology).

It’s easy to miss the bigger picture. Outsource your customer service to save money and you make customers realize that you dont care about them. Have employees realize that everyone in the business is a marketer, and you’ll have a more engaged workplace.

It’s important to remember that even though both systems have different needs, they act synergistically for their survival. Understand your systems and adapt accordingly.

(btw – if you want to feel full for longer, eat slower and give yourself 20 minutes to finish you’re meal. Even if its a sandwich … you’ll notice a big difference)