Business Health Check by Carol O'Connor
Book Review - 3 Stars
Carol O'Connor has identified eight management areas essential to business success although these are different to my Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity.
The advantage of breaking the complex issue of business management into a number of key areas is that it means that attention can be focused on smaller areas while still seeing how the more specialised area fits into the whole business picture.
The eight components for management success in "Business Heath Check" are:
- Vision and planning
- Commitment to quality
- Decision making
- Information Technology
This is a function/skill based approached while my Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity which my business coaching program is based around is more process oriented because that's they way work gets done in business.
Just for comparison purposes, my Eight Pillars Of Business Prosperity are:
- Your key numbers - measuring and controlling your business
- Your vision, goals, priorities and time management
- Your competitive position in the market
- Generating customer leads
- Converting leads into customers
- Increasing the value of the ongoing customer relationship
- Leading your team
- Systematising your business
The difference is striking although when you burrow under the surface you can see that Carol O'Connor's Communication and Decision Making topics come through in many of my process based approaches.
The "Business Health Check" book can be seen as written in three parts:
- The introduction to the eight management essentials
- The Business Heath Check
- Advice about the issues highlighted by business the health check
The Management Essentials
There is little justification in the "Business Health Check" book about why these eight items listed above are selected and they relate more to the management skills of the entrepreneur or small business owner than characteristics of the business itself.
The Business Health Check
Each management essential has ten statements to be answered on a yes/no basis with a yes flagging up an issue. The more you score, the higher the number of issues in the business.
So for example in Vision and Planning you have "Financial targets are kept secret from those who must achieve them."
Clearly it is not sensible to have company goals and not cascade them down through the business but I take issue with the use of "financial targets".
It is understandable for entrepreneurs to keep certain details confidential and I am a believer that senior management must manage the financial numbers but as you work down the organisation, targets and goals are better related to people's individual jobs.
Everybody in a business influences profit but few instinctively understand how their role impacts on profit by increasing revenue or reducing costs.
The distribution supervisor can understand however how the number of on-time deliveries is important and the number of despatch, picking and packing errors are influenced by the decisions and action made in his department.
I also have issues with the business health check on the black or white, yes or no answers required. Life is shades of grey and the health check doesn't recognise this.
The strength of the health check is that there are eighty questions which can make the entrepreneur or owner of a small business reflect on how they are managing and whether improvements could be made.
Transforming The Business
If you go through the checklist you will identify issues which need to be fixed and the third section of the book introduces you to ideas about what to do.
Unfortunately it is only an introduction as it runs to a little over 100 pages. While it would be nice to have more details, the individual sections are easy to read. They don't clearly relate to the business health check issues identified. I would have liked this section to have looked in more detail at the problem caused, the implications and what could be done about it.
Conclusion on the Business Health Check by Carol O'Connor
I rate "Business Health Check" as a three star book. It has good points and I am in favour of anything which encourages entrepreneurs and small business owners to assess their business and consider areas for improvement.
But the concept is under-developed. It could have been much better and more useful to the target market.
The business health check could have been more demanding and the "what to do about it" should have been made much more relevant.
"Business Health Check" is therefore considered as useful but is not strong enough to carry a buy recommendation.
Alternative Business Health Check Approaches
I have my own proprietary business health check based on the Four Pathways To Business Success or Failure but I want to offer you a more generic business development questionnaire for free.
What's in the Business Development Questionnaire?
This is a 33 page PDF to allow you to assess your business and collect information together so that you can look at issues which you have probably never considered before.
In the report there are sections on:
- What should the business do for you?
- Management issues
- Team members
- Organisation structure
- Team member review
- Team member job evaluation
- Your organisation's commitment to customers
- Products and services
- Customer segmentation
- Competitive analysis
- Financial systems
- Environmental trends, opportunities and threats.
This is ideal if you want to be your own business coach or consultant but I must warn you, at 33 pages it is not for the faint hearted and it will ask questions that you don't know the answers to.
You can get this free Business Development Questionnaire by entering your name and email address below. This will then send you an email asking you to confirm that it really was you who wanted the information.
Your email details are kept confidential. I hate spam as much as you do. Every email you receive from me includes an option to unsubscribe if you ever believe that I am not giving you value for your attention.
Update - returning to the Business Health Check Book
The book failed to survive a recent purge of my business library and has been sent to a charity shop.
Have you read the Business Health Check by Carol O'Connor and if so, what did you think?