Wellness Needs a Steve Jobs
November 07, 2011
Changing health behaviors ingrained over many years is a lot harder than selling someone a $200 gadget that holds 1000 songs. But the passing of the great innovator Steve Jobs has the entire business world reexamining the status quo to see if some of his magic can be captured for their industry. It’s long past time the wellness industry did the same.
So we’re taking this occasion to borrow from the well known 7 principles of Steve Jobs and ask: “What would Steve do” if he were in wellness?
- Do what you love. Jobs once told a group of employees “People with passion can change the world for the better.” What better vocation to change the world than wellness? If you’re not passionate about your job, get out. Life is way too short to do something you don’t love. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
- Put a dent in the universe. This is about vision. In 1976, when the personal computers industry was in its infancy, Jobs’s vision was to put a computer in the hands of everyday people. Don’t settle for me-too programs and me-too results. If you’re spending your energy chasing “best-practice” you’ll end up with average success. A look around the typical workplace wellness program will confirm today’s best practice falls way short of what’s possible. What’s your vision?
- Kick-start your brain. Jobs said creativity is just connecting things. He believed a broad set of experiences expands our understanding of people. Wellness conferences are great for connecting with colleagues, and peer-reviewed journals are fine for knowing what happened last year. But if you’re really seeking inspiration, look outside wellness. What can you learn from Starbucks? Politics? Art history? Apple? Children’s literature? Computer gaming?
- Sell dreams, not products. The risk reduction model has had middling results for 30 years. Maybe it’s time to stop the focus on avoiding morbidity and zero in on possibilities. How can a healthy lifestyle make everything about life better? Better relationships. Better pay. Better sex. Better self-esteem. Better energy. Better control of time. Better fulfillment. Jobs said the people who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do. Are you crazy enough to change wellness?
- Say no to 1000 things. More isn’t necessarily better. Jobs understood this — and said no more often than most leaders to keep the focus on what mattered. Wellness practitioners are among the worst people on the planet at saying no, because we want to please everyone and make everyone feel welcome. But our desire to be all things to all people often creates an unfocused mishmash of services that pull in too many directions, diluting the results for everything. Say no to all except what really matters, even if your Director is the one asking for something that doesn’t. Jobs told then-new Nike CEO Mark Parker “Get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”
- Create insanely great experiences. Is there anything about your health coaching that participants would describe as an insanely great experience? How about your HRA? Health screenings? Campaigns? Simply changing your focus from the numbers (registrants, completions, risk scores, etc.) to feelings (liked most/least, happy, motivated, inspired) will move you in the direction of great experiences. Are you in the business of lowering cholesterol or helping people live better? Big difference.
- Master the message. You can have the greatest wellness service in history, but if you can’t get people excited about it, it doesn’t matter. Learn how to tell a story, not recite bullets from a PowerPoint. Make your message visual. Inform, educate, and entertain.