How a business health check is like a personal health check – and how it differs
A question posed the other day was “A business health check: is that like a personal health check-up?” And the answer is broadly “Yes” but with some important differences.
Many will have experienced a personal health check-up with their GP or a private healthcare provider and will be familiar with the process. There’s usually a preliminary questionnaire into your lifestyle (diet and exercise) and family medical history. The appointment with the nurse or doctor starts with an interview, probing your questionnaire answers and assessing your mental health and wellbeing. Then measurements are taken: blood pressure, pulse, height and weight, body fat percentage. Blood and urine samples may be taken and sent for analysis (checking for cholesterol or liver problems); you are screened, where relevant, for specific diseases and function (thyroid, prostate, cervical smear); and sometimes other tests (cardio-respiratory exercise, motor reactions) may be carried out. After the consultation, calculations (such as BMI and metabolic rate) and diagnoses are made. You are given feedback on your health, an assessment of key risks (such as heart attack or stroke) and recommendations in an action plan for improving your lifestyle and overall health.
A Company Pulse business health check follows a similar process. You answer our online questionnaire into your business health, provide us with hard data (for example your statutory accounts). During our Gold business health check we meet you and your senior management team to probe your questionnaire answers in more detail and to explore any opportunities or concerns. We analyse your data and calculate key ratios (such as productivity, staff turnover, financial returns) and benchmark these against comparable companies. We project your finances forward and highlight any areas of potential risk. We provide our feedback to you in the form of a balanced scorecard with an intuitive, graphical dashboard of your business health. All this is summarised in a report containing our recommendations which we discuss with you and agree on a prioritised action plan for improving your business health.
Where our business health checks differ from a personal health check is in the area of adaptability and flexibility. Here, we stop thinking about your company as a single organism and instead consider it as a species. Businesses, like species, have an advantage over individual organisms in their ability to evolve in response to a changing environment. We take the view that companies are in a continual struggle: “survival of the best adapted” (to their business environment).
As well as examining your business health under our five PULSE dimensions (People + Processes; Utilisations + Outcomes; Logistics + Infrastructure; Strategy + Finance; and Ethos + Relationships), we analyse across the dimensions of current capabilities, recent performance, and adaptability and flexibility. For us, adaptability and flexibility is vital. In a rapidly changing business environment, healthy businesses need to be able to change to keep up with, or stay ahead of the competition. Being better adapted could mean or being better at satisfying customers, having more efficient operational processes, or being better at innovating. And the targets keep moving (for example due to rising customer expectations), so healthy businesses need strategic-thinking, continual development and a nimble response to any new opportunities.
The main difference between one of our business health checks and a personal health check is that, in addition to an assessment of your current health and prospects, we also focus on how adaptable and flexible your business is to take on the challenge of a rapidly changing business environment.