| July 14, 2021

3 business principles and frameworks applied to wellness

As someone with a business background and experience in the fitness industry, I have naturally always had certain thoughts cross over when it comes to ideas.

By Trevor Mah

Read time: 7 min.

As someone with a business background and experience in the fitness industry, I have naturally always had certain thoughts that have crossed over when it comes to ideas. In business, you tend to apply concepts to solve complicated problems by taking many things into consideration.

In applying that thought to wellness, I figured I would expand upon some of my learnings in the past and find ways they can be applied towards common problems people have. One of my greatest takeaways from learning about business strategy is that it opens your mind up to understanding things from different perspectives.

I chose a few business principles and frameworks that I have come across in the past that I believe can be expanded upon, modified, or in some instances directly applied. Some may be a stretch, but I hope that at least you can be entertained or enlightened to a degree. Perhaps it may even actually help you as a tool moving forward. With that being said, here are the few I have chosen:

The Pareto Principle (aka Law of the Vital Few, 80/20 Rule, Principle of Factor Sparsity)
The Pareto Principle is an idea that 80% of your consequences come from 20% of causes. For businesses, the majority of your outputs are based on only a small fraction of your inputs. This is to drive home the point of the significance of your main actions that truly yield results.

When it comes to wellness, this can be applied to many things including training and nutrition. For many workouts, the majority of your results will usually come from your first 1-2 exercises where you are the most focused and energized. That is not to say your workouts only need to be one or two exercises. Keeping this in mind can help remind yourself where to concentrate your efforts.

This application has already been used in an alternate way in many training programs as a split between areas of focus. The most common one is an 80/20 split between time spent on strength training and cardio respectively. The idea is presented a little differently, but it shows that if your main focus is strength, about 80% of time focused on it will do, with the remainder on cardio (or anything else).

For diet, this is a little trickier to apply the first meaning as your results certainly close from way more than 20% of what you eat. In this case, the alternative is more appropriate where you can view it as an 80/20 split between your ideal and poor eating. Simply put, you can usually afford to eat healthy 80% of the time and treat yourself the rest of the 20%. Keep in mind this isn’t a perfect split, as some people like to alter this more towards 85-90% healthy eating. This is of course different for everyone, so choose what is reasonable and works best for you.

4 Disciplines of Execution
The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a set of practices that has been proven to show results as it helps businesses focus on their goals in light of other distractions and priorities. With some slight modifications, this can be applied towards anyone’s wellness related goals. In fact, this concept has also been explored in an individual context in the book Deep Work by Cal Newport.

These 4 are:

Focus on the wildly important
Act on lead measures
Keep a compelling scoreboard
Create a cadence of accountability

First, focusing on something wildly important gives you a clearly defined goal that is partially ambitious and provides a tangible reward that you can measure. For example, a goal to decrease 20lbs of body fat in 6 months is clear and attainable, and the rewards are noticeable (i.e. look and feel better, more energy, etc.). This is more direct than if a goal was along the lines of “get healthy and in shape”.

Second, acting on lead measures means to focus on behaviors that accumulate and make up your results. Also worth noting the concept of lag measures, which is ultimately the goal itself. Focusing on the goal itself isn’t effective because it requires success to have already happened, and at that point you can’t measure something that already occurred. Going back to lead measures and using the same goal from above, focusing on behaviors such as getting up early to workout, meal prepping, and drinking water are all examples of lead measures that assist towards success.

Third, a compelling scoreboard is self-explanatory. By tracking instances of your habits, such as marking down days you went to the gym, calorie and foods, program tracking etc. are important to provide data on gauging your effectiveness. Of course, it is important to choose the measures that actually motivate you to progress.

Lastly, accountability ensures that you have an external network to help keep you on track. For businesses, this will vary but it is much simpler in an individual context where you share your journey with others who will aid and support you.

The 4DX model is very simplistic, and allows you to drive focus exactly where you need it in order to reach your goals while implementing other meaningful aspects to support your goals.

The STAR Model
The STAR model is an organizational design framework created by Jay R. Galbraith. It is generally used for designing policies by taking into account 5 categories: strategy, structure, processes, people, and rewards. Applying this in a personal wellness context can be modified and simplified by exploring the categories based on an individual.

Strategy determines the direction. If you have a goal, this is where you make sure it satisfies important criteria that makes it clear and actionable (think SMART or SUCCESS goals for instance). There has to be a reason for why you are choosing to do what you are doing.

Structure in the STAR model is the location of decision-making power. In this case, it’s you but this doesn’t really provide much use. Instead, expand upon structure by examining your own life to determine factors that influence and help you. This could be simply your home and work environment and how it is set up to help you achieve your goals.

Processes in a business sense is about information flow. In this context, I will define it as personal habits. Your everyday routine and actions account for your results. This is where one would ensure that good habits are ritualized and bad habits are minimized in order for productivity to thrive.

Rewards influence motivation and are also tied to the end goal. This one is more direct as there should be something to strive towards that you truly value by putting in the effort.

People in this case is something I have to change completely from the business STAR model as it is more about HR. However, my take on it is to think of people as your support network. Much like the 4DX Model mentioned previously, having people to hold you accountable and provide encouragement only aids in your pursuits.

In this case, the STAR Model is something that I drastically modified in order to align with individual use. Either way, perhaps this is something that could be helpful for some people when examining requirements for their success. If there are any gaps, flaws, redundancies, or inconsistencies, feel free to have a conversation with me.

Cohesively, everything together provides a solid foundation for achieving your goals efficiently. If one category begins to crumble, then it will present a challenge and potentially require the other categories to compensate if possible.

To finish, let’s put my modified STAR Model to the test in an example goal for someone who wants to lose weight once again. First, a strategy would be their defined goal. In this case, losing 20lbs of fat in 6 months is clear and provides direction. This direction is guided by a training and nutrition plan that suits their needs. Structure would be setting up the environment for success. This would be something like putting away snacks from their work desk, or stocking their fridge with healthier options as examples. Processes would be something that would require more attention if they are new, but this is relatively straightforward. Habits such as going to the gym 3-4 times a week, eating within their calories, and getting ample rest consistently will be prioritized. Next, rewards are more individualized but these could be common desires such as feeling and looking better, fitting into their old clothes, or just being able to do more in general. Again, as long as it motivates the person, the better. Finally, people would be supportive friends and family. This could also include co-workers, coaches, and anyone else helping along the way.

Overall, this was just a fun exercise to apply aspects of a different topic (business) and find ways to make use of them in wellness. Some may hit the mark, and others may be a bit of a stretch, but if something can help then it’s just another tool you can use. There are many more business frameworks, practices, and theories out there so perhaps I will continue this on as a series down the road.

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