Where are the misalignments in your business?

My wife runs a business. She is a doctor of chiropractic and owns one of the most successful wellness practices in the region. I have learned a lot about business from her. And I have also learned there is a lot that business owners can learn from the principles of chiropractic. I’d like to share some what I have learned with you today in the hope that it can help your business.

A chiropractor’s work focuses on the nervous system. The nervous system is the master controller system of the human body. It connects the brain to all organs, tissues, and muscles in the body, and vice versa. It is the information highway of the body, allowing the brain to talk to the body and the body to talk to the brain. Any interference or disturbance in nervous system function will impact the body’s ability to express health.

The human body is self-healing. In most cases, if you cut yourself, or get sick, or break a bone, in time you heal. You don’t have to think about healing, it just happens. The body is self-healing. 

The human body is also self-regulating. Your heart pumps, you digest your food, your lungs take in air, your other organs do their thing—all without you having to think about it. More, the body adapts to changing circumstances or forces applied to it. Your heart rate increases when you exercise. Your lungs work harder at higher altitude. Again, all without you having to instruct it to do so. The body is self-regulating.

So the nervous system is the master controller of the body. And the body is self-healing and self-regulating. Therefore, any interference or disturbance in nervous system function—that is, in the brain’s ability to talk to the body and vice versa—will impact the body’s ability to self-heal and self-regulate.

Chiropractors detect interferences in the nervous system using manual and technological exams and diagnostic tools. The interferences are typically caused by stressors—such as trauma, or other physical, chemical, or emotional stress that we experience on a day-to-day basis over extended periods of time. The stressors tend to manifest themselves in the spine, either as misalignments or immobility in one or more portions of the spine. And since the spine surrounds and protects the spinal cord, an integral part of the nervous system, these problems with the spine can cause interferences in the nervous system. They can restrict the efficiency of the information highway: the body and brain lose some of their ability to talk or send signals to each other, and the body’s ability to express health is diminished.

The short version of all of this is that misalignments of the spine cause the body not to work properly, not to function optimally. They cause the body to be less healthy, less adaptable to stress, less efficient. When chiropractors are able to correct these misalignments, through chiropractic adjustments, it helps the body return to a higher state of health, adaptability and efficiency. 

See any correlations for your business?

Your business has a ton of moving parts, just like the body. It has people, and processes, and products, and services, and systems, and technology. There’s management, and sales, and operations, and IT, and HR, and marketing, and communications, and legal, and accounting, and leadership, and so on.

Unlike the human body, unfortunately for business there isn’t a built-in master controller system that co-ordinates all of these things without you having to think about it. But like the human body, and again unfortunately for business, interferences in the communication or signals between these functions, and misalignments among them, cause the business to be less healthy, less efficient, less adaptable. They impede the business’ ability to grow and be successful and sustainable. They cost the business money. 

For example, a while ago we had to replace the heating system in our house. The guy who quoted the job did so on the basis that there was no need for any ductwork. He believed the new system would tie into the existing ductwork without issue. When the installers arrived to start the work, however, they knew right away that there would be some fairly significant ductwork involved, and this turned a one-day job into a 2.5-day job for the install crew. Adding 2.5x labour to the quoted job surely cost the business some money, potentially all of the profit on the job. Perhaps they lost money on the job. All because there was a misalignment in the job quoting process. Perhaps the sales guy wasn’t trained well enough on ductwork. Perhaps the compensation system for sales guys was based on revenues and not profit. Perhaps sales guys should consult with installers before giving a quote. Whatever the reason, this misalignment in the quoting process for the company cost them money on the job they did at our house—and who knows how many other jobs. 

Another example of business misalignment occurs often at professional service firms. On the one hand, partners are asked to transition clients to senior staff in order to (a) help with the staff member’s development and progression towards partner, and (b) to make room for the partner to attract more business. However, the partner compensation model at the same firm might be based solely or mostly on book of business, which is a huge disincentive to transition clients to senior staff. The result is stagnant growth, overworked partners, frustrated staff, and inadequate succession planning. All of which cost the business, and thus the partners, money. 

There are literally tons of other examples:

  1. Businesses that don’t act in accordance with their vision or values. 
  2. Businesses with significant sales growth targets, but that don’t allocate sufficient resources (staff, systems, support) to achieve those targets. 
  3. Businesses with great sales teams that bring in business, but sloppy service delivery that results in lost customers. 
  4. Businesses whose messaging to the public (external) conflicts with its messaging to its people (internal)
  5. Businesses with excellent revenue generation but terrible expense control
  6. Businesses with established key metrics but no one or no way to measure them

Fact is, business is hard enough to begin with. If you add in misalignments among–or within—the various components of the business, your chances of sustained success plummet. 

Over the last 20 years, lots of software has developed to become the master controller system, to connect and integrate many aspects of the business, and this has helped greatly. The digital nervous system as Bill Gates called it. But even a great enterprise management or resource software only goes so far. 

In order to maximize efficiency, profitability, and adaptability of the business, owners need to always be on the lookout for misalignments within their business. 

You can start by asking the following questions:

  1. Does my business have a clear vision and mission, known and understood by all team members?
  2. Does my business have a stated set of values upon which all decisions are based (values-based decision-making)?
  3. Does my business have written objectives for the year, broken down into quarters and months, with measurable metrics to measure success?
  4. Are the objectives aligned with the values, mission, and vision of the business? 
  5. Do the systems and processes in my business support the achievement of the objectives?
  6. Do the systems and processes in my business support each other? Where are there inconsistencies?

If there is a nagging problem area (or a few) in your business right now, chances are if you dig into it, you’ll find a misalignment is the root cause. Correct the misalignment(s) and watch the problem(s) dissipate. 

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