A Business Coach/Consultant is a Change Merchant
Being a business consultant/coach in today's ever-increasing competitive world frequently involves getting one's clients to consider making changes in their structures, systems, and procedures if they are to maximize the return they expect. Frequently my role is to become like a chiropractor for the business. Chiropractic which is now recognized as a legitimate approach to ensuring sustainable health is very different from the traditional medical route but it shares a common denominator.
Most people will not seek out the care of either a medical doctor or a chiropractor until they begin to experience "pain." Here's the problem with this. Pain is nothing more than a symptom and in virtually all cases it is the last symptom.
Someone who has been a heavy smoker might finally show up in a waiting room complaining that they are experiencing pain when they breathe. But weren't there a myriad of symptoms that occurred before the decision was made to go and see "somebody?" They might have noticed a shortness of breath; their teeth were getting discolored, they might have developed a hacking cough, there was dryness in the throat, there might have been a deepening in the sound of their voice, they smelled bad; you get the picture. Perhaps all of these symptoms were ignored until they got to "pain." At that point, the medical doctor might have his proverbial hands full and may have to go the route of surgery or something that is equally catastrophic and invasive to the patient. And regrettably, it is from scenarios like this one that we get the expression that the "cure is worse than the disease."
The chiropractic approach to health care differs dramatically from the fix it when it's broken model of the traditional doctor. "Chiropractors work with the spine, not just because it's often the source of neck and back pain, but because it houses and protects the central nervous system - that system, which monitors, controls and regulates all body function, and allows the body to adapt to internal and external influences." The business consultant/coach frequently works in an analogous way from the top down and taps into the company's nervous system with the hope of getting the systems to get back into or maintain their alignment. So having said that, when does change occur?
For you numbers people out there let me put it this way. Alan Webber, co-founder of Business Week, wrote that change is a math formula. Change happens when the cost of status quo is greater than the risk of change. C (SQ) > R(C). This translates as "Are you in enough pain, yet? The reality is it would be so much better for everyone if we would all exercise the "ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure" logic but it just doesn't seem to work that way. So the next time you start to take notice of things going a little awry in your business; before it gets really broken and painful you might want to just take a closer look at it and ask yourself Dr. Phil's ubiquitous question, "So how's that working for you?" Asking yourself that one question might save you a lot of time, and money and relieve you of the pain before you begin to experience it.
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