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What kind of doctor does your business need?

Posted by Chad O'Connor  September 10, 2012 11:00 AM

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The Republicans and Democrats can agree on at least one thing—that the key to job creation and economic recovery sits firmly with American entrepreneurs and business owners. It’s true. Perhaps more than ever, it’s time to stop looking to big corporations and government programs to get people back to work. It’s time to give the new engines of the American economy all of the tools they need to succeed. But who would have thought these businesses would ever need a doctor? And why not?

Healthy people exercise, brush their teeth and eat right. They get enough sleep, try to reduce stress in their lives and check-in with their doctor at least once a year to make sure their fluids are in check and their gears are still working. And if a healthy person gets, well, less healthy, they have a doctor in place where they can go to get help.

Businesses, like people, need to maintain their health. And keeping your business healthy isn’t that different from keeping your body healthy. The key is staying aware of the inner workings of your organization and knowing when it’s time to take action. Like with biological health, you don’t want find out too late that you have inoperable cancer.

So what kind of “business doctor” do you need? And what perspective could this doctor give you that will help your business not only survive, but thrive?

A Radiologist – A radiologist is highly skilled at reading Xrays, CTScans and MRIs. They use these tools to peer inside the human body to identify not only what’s broken, but to also confirm that something is working as it should. As a radiologist peering into your own business, how would you evaluate your overall business health? Think about your team, your plans, your processes. Are people communicating effectively and efficiently? Are you able to set a vision and make a plan to achieve it? And do you have processes in place to get things done, strategy by strategy, task by task? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, consider taking a hard look at the inner workings of your company. Make a list of what’s working well, what needs improvement and what’s not working well enough. Get real because you have to. Remember that you can’t solve problems without first identifying where problem spots exist. Think like a radiologist and take a hard look at your organization from a completely different point of view.

An Endocrinologist—The endocrine system is in charge of body processes that happen slowly, such as cell growth. From controlling hormones, metabolism and neurochemical production, the human endocrine system keeps the systems and trains in our bodies running on time. Metabolism, as an example, is a process built on a careful balance between building tissue and energy stores and then breaking down those tissues and energy stores to generate fuel needed for bodily function.

What keeps your trains running on time? Are you a thoughtful decision-maker or could you benefit from some discipline when it comes to staying on message and on track? What does balance look like for you? Do you know how to make hard choices when customer needs don’t align with business objectives? How do you DO the things you do? Are your technology/manufacturing/service platforms providing a steady foundation and support system for your growing needs? Think of your company’s endocrine system as a traffic cop that can help you stay focused and on task. Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. Remember that one of the best ways to be a successful company is to be a successfully run company.

A Cardiologist—Without a heart, a body just can’t work. A cardiologist makes sure your heart, and the two circulatory systems it feeds, stay healthy. Pulmonary circulation refers to the short loop from the heart to the lungs and back. If the heart and lungs aren’t working efficiently to re-oxygenate the blood, the entire system can collapse. Your management team is your pulmonary system. To prevent blockages and avoid cardiac arrest it’s crucial for your team to be smart, effective and agile. Ask yourself, are ideas and information shared fluidly between key managers and stakeholders? In a fast-moving market where conditions change “in a heartbeat”, is your team ready to come together, collaborate, decide and distribute new directions with ease? If not, it might be time for some cardiac rehab.

The Systemic Circulatory System sends fresh blood from the heart to the other parts of the body, i.e. your team. What’s your company’s circulatory system? How do your teams stay connected with the company vision and stay empowered to make right choices needed to bring products and services to market? How can you create a way to disseminate information and inspire your team to become your biggest brand advocates? Check in on your how executives, managers and team members communicate. As the Millennial generation pours into the workforce, ask yourself what you need to do to integrate these creative and socially-minded thinkers into your business flow? Make sure to give yourself a heart-health test and keep the “fresh blood” flowing.

And You—As a person who can positively impact our future, we count on you to help create successful companies, hire American workers, turn a profit, grow strong and kick-start the economic cycle. To do this, you need to be your own business doctor. Take a hard look at your organization. Be your best champion, examiner and diagnostician. Gather varying perspectives and seek out ways to be more disciplined, more focused, more effective and more efficient. With this enhanced vision, you will be better poised to evaluate how you are doing, and make a plan to effectively move forward.

Some additional specialists you may want to enlist:

Psychologist – because sometimes everybody is speaking the same language, but no one understands what the others are saying.

Plastic Surgeon – because sometimes you need to take a hard look at your organization and trim some fat.

Otolaryngologist – because market conditions and loyal customers matter. An ear, nose and throat doctor will help you hear what your customers are saying, smell out the competition and market opportunities, and develop a relevant and compelling brand voice.

Susanne Goldstein is a problem solver, storyteller and business doctor. You can learn more about her on Twitter @FollowSusanne, or at www.susannegoldstein.com

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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