Given the advancements in science over the years, when it comes to the numbers, it does not seem to have made much of a difference to people’s health. According to CDC statistics, from 1999 –2000 through 2017 – March 2020, US obesity prevalence increased from 30.5% to 41.9%. During the same time, the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was nearly $173 billion in 2019 dollars.
What is the cause of this? Is it something external over which people have no control? Are people simply not interested in their physical health as a priority? When it comes to our health there are really only two fundamental factors that we think of. What we eat/drink and the amount of exercise we do. This varies for everyone. Despite our health being foundational for our ability to operate in the world, it does not seem like health is a priority for a very large percentage of society. Somehow people seem to think they can get by without prioritizing health, and many do, but only up to a point.
Given the statistics, it would appear health is something that is easily sacrificed by many people. It appears to be no different in organizations. Consider that an organization, like the human body, is an organism that can be in poor or healthy condition. In the book The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni, he postulates that organizational health is the foundation upon which all success is built. Simply put, an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete when its management, operations and culture are unified. This is known as a state of integrity.
Organizational health is mostly ignored in companies for a number of reasons, two being:
- People do not treat organizational health as being important.
It is nice to have but not necessary. The default thinking is that it falls into the same category as culture. Lip service is paid to culture or to organizational health factors. However, when you get down to it – it really is an afterthought. If a straight line cannot be drawn from organizational health to the bottom-line results, then why bother?
- Leaders do not know what organizational health looks like.
Even if organizational leadership knows the importance of the integrity of their operations, management and culture, they do not know what it should look like. It is difficult to know where to begin if you don’t know what it is supposed to look like. So they take minimal actions in the hope that what they do is making a difference. This is like scrambling around in the dark.
According to Lencioni, “organizational health will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.” To say it is worth putting in the time and intellectual effort to understand what this looks like is an understatement. It is a fundamental and foundational factor of production and the organizations who can identify this, create it and master it will likely have a decisive long-term edge in their markets.