We often use biology as a metaphor for business, using such terms as ‘culture is its beating heart’ or ‘let’s bring this initiative back to life’.
To determine whether something can be considered life, biologists use the seven signs of life. Can we also use these to test the health of a business? Do the seven signs of life become the seven signs of business health? If so, what do they tell us about the success of our business?
Perhaps most importantly, how do we harness their wisdom to build a great business? After all, people want to be part of a business that has life in it.
Many of us learn these seven signs at school but, if like me, you don’t remember everything you’ve been taught; here is a reminder of all seven (skip ahead if you know them).
Seven Signs of Life
Respiration – unlocking the energy that we have stored in our body
Nutrition – absorbing food so that we can grow, be strong and be healthy
Growth – progressing through the stages of life but also grow in size and shape – replenishing, replacing and enhancing the body
Sensitivity – sensing and responding to changes in the environment
Movement – moving to exploit opportunity or counter threat
Excretion – removing the waste products we don’t need
Reproduction – creating offspring to ensure the survival of the species.
Seven Signs of Business Life
When we translate these into our business world, do they show how effective and successful we will be? Let’s take a look.
Respiration – how our business uses resources to produce and deliver its proposition – effectively our business operations (or operating model). But more relevant is how effective and efficient we are at using these resources. Do we waste them, do we use them optimally, what costs do we incur?
Nutrition – how we source our resources (raw materials and people), ensuring that they are the best for our purpose, propositions and operations.
Growth – how we grow rather than stagnate or decline. Growth propels us towards our purpose, fulfilment and impact, as well as the more traditional financial features of growth.
Sensitivity – how we understand our market, knowing its context, direction, dynamics, needs, regulation, competition, etc
Movement – how we respond to the market, how dynamic we are in adapting to these needs
Excretion – how we deal with the un-needed by-products of our business. Along with nutrition and respiration, it has a significant impact on the environment. This impact is measured not just by the value we bring but also by the damage we cause to the environment and people.
Reproduction – how we create new versions of our propositions through innovation, bringing them to market and making them successful. We can take it further to measure how we continually advance to deliver our purpose, instilled with the values that we hold dear.
The seven signs of life provide a valuable view on how successful we’ll be as a business: whether our people will be fulfilled, our customers prosper, and our results flourish.
Harnessing the Power of Wisdom
All businesses are a combination of People, Propositions, Practices and Performance. We can use our seven signs to measure our attitude towards and success across these 4Ps. And as such, the seven signs are good indicators of the health of a business.
Of course, measuring is not the point of business. What we’re all really interested in is being enduringly successful by relentlessly driving towards our purpose. Measures allow us to understand where we are on that journey.
Moving from measures into action, here at txgnosis, we use a range of 24 factors to guide businesses towards success. In our eyes, a successful business is unstoppable, captivating, thriving, boundless and eternal. We call this the irresistible business.
These 24 factors give greater resolution than the seven signs of life that we’ve discussed here. We group them into four key areas: Context, Culture, Capability and Control. Together they are the 4Cs. As we guide you through the framework, your business becomes unstoppable, captivating, thriving, boundless and eternal. It becomes that irresistible business that delivers perpetual life to itself and all those around.
Becoming irresistible isn’t easy, but it is a whole lot easier using a framework with tried, trusted and proprietary techniques. So we deliver the business where people are fulfilled, customers prosper, and results speak for themselves.
Using biology as a metaphor for business is particularly useful. People can easily relate to it and use it to understand better the dynamics needed to become irresistible. This holds true for the seven signs of life as well.
Metrics, though, aren’t enough. We need to sense the environment and business context, grow through effective nutrition and respiration, move to where the best outcomes will happen, reduce our harmful impact on the world and create improved and innovative propositions.
At the end of the day, people want to be part of a business with life in it.