Management Lessons from the Gym

Our modern day life demands each one of us to invest in a gym membership. In earlier times, neither did gymnasiums exist for the common people nor was it equipped with the kind of sophistication you would find today. Somehow, we have been able to mechanize our lives in the name of progress, leaving us victims and coping with that very phenomenon. The corporate environment is no exception as it is again made up of us very people; in fact contributing to the stresses and strains of an individual to a great extent and hence the proliferation of gyms and their usage.

Health is and should be the primary focus for exercising and / or going to the gym. This is being stressed upfront as many misguided think this is the place where they can be made to look good. Health covers good looks and not vice versa. You may physically display a muscular body and a great shape but that does not guarantee good health. The foundation of good health is being able to breathe properly, eat regularly and sleep appropriately. In a corporate environment this can be equated to Intelligence, Cost and Changeover.

Any good instructor will let you know at the outset that the success to a good workout is the resistance applied. If you are on a treadmill or a cross-trainer, it does not matter how long you spend on the machine but the heart rate you generate with the applied resistance and the calories burnt is the indicator for the success of the workout. Similarly, when you are engaged with Isometric Training, Pilates, aerobics or Yoga, the first fundamental is to breathe right. For the human body, breathing is intelligence; providing the amount of oxygen required for each body part as it works out and tones itself to perform its functions in harmony with the rest of the body. This is how strength is developed. In a corporate environment, why should it be any different?

Building body shape with weight training and supplements is akin to how corporate construct their business around spin. A healthy body weathers all conditions as much as a healthy corporate weathering good and bad economy by the strength of its parts. For the human body, exercising and training of the muscles is not an event but a regular everyday process and this must be true to a corporate environment as well. The big question is, how the leaders and managers look at their business environment?

The way we regulate our breathing and increase the weights and resistance during training provides the body the contextual intelligence for each body part and knowledge of endurance, stamina and the ability to move to a higher threshold of resistance and strength. The entire focus of the corporate has to be similarly oriented. Just as there is a need for gyms today, businesses have a need to depend on consultants and outsourcing partners. The trainer in the gym who is your typical consultant in a corporate environment can facilitate you to do the right exercises but will hardly be able to regulate your blood flow or perform the functions of your muscles and body parts. Similarly, the environment of a gym can be a great motivational force with its infrastructure and people sharing best practices just as in an outsourced environment providing infrastructure and resources to compliment a business enterprise. But the most critical element of exercising is the contextual intelligence (breathing) that the corporate environment needs to emulate to create a healthy organization and a strong business enterprise.

The health of an individual and the collective health of an organization are no different. The most basic principle of working out is one’s ability to smile and enjoy. The pain in the tendons and muscles as you work out is sweet and endurable when you realize the benefits of the results. This is where the mind and body are synergized and such should be the case of a corporate environment. People must feel committed and happy in coming into work and performing with their mind and body that develops a differentiated work environment and business; which then becomes its soul. The purpose of exercising the body; be it an individual or a corporate should therefore be the seamless integration of the mind, body and soul.

These basic principles do not change; no matter what the size, shape and the location of the business might be. As we move into a complex world of buying, making / trading and delivering, we have to realize the complexity is not in the business but in what we are imposing on it by means of technology, application, distribution, reach and as a consequence, expectations with respect to returns. It is therefore not a subject of negotiation as to how intelligently we marshal these resources to deliver the expectations we are creating through our business enterprise. We must train our body and business to the discipline of meeting the demands in a sustained manner through good and bad times.

Just as the revolution of Manufacturing Management revealed through Flow Based Manufacturing, it may not be such a bad idea of organizations to create a core environment that develops its people for mind, body and soul synergy around which the business enterprise is constructed. This will call for a dramatic change in the way business plans are built and funding is generated; where capabilities become the core to sustained business performance and therefore the valuations of the business. Until such an occurrence, we may still have to live through many more economic downturns, bubble bursts and recessions and what have you!!!

Just to leave you with the taste of things to come, take a look at the Indian Premier League (IPL) valuations. Its ten teams combined are estimated to be valued at a little over $ 3.5 Billion currently after just three years. On the other hand, we have a 132 year club like Manchester United which has a current valuation of $ 1.87 Billion by itself. The top 19 NFL teams in the US also have a valuation of over $ 1.75 Billion individually. Nevertheless, the recession has seen the big guns bleeding in the recent years and plunged them into debt and in a country like India, where the government is trying to tackle a development agenda; we have a sports event kicking up these crazy valuations. In the background lurks security threats and poor infrastructure in comparison to developed nations. While the ambition may be laudable, what do you think is going to be the fate of the IPL Valuations when without the inherent strength it faces the grim possibility of terror strikes and recessionary patterns? Shouldn’t both the IPL Management and the government become more responsible? Will they come to the rescue of the poor retail investor when the chips are down? Think again!

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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One Response to Management Lessons from the Gym

  1. Sandy says:

    Rightly said… Well written…

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