by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

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?

by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Before you commit to offering a new wellness service, be sure you’ve covered these bases:

  • You’re rolling something out that’s going to be better or address a new need. Don’t launch a new service simply to attract the same participants at the same level of involvement. Strive for new folks or more signups from existing participants, clients, or patients.

  • You’ve done your homework. You should know before flipping the switch that there’s a demand for the new service. Notice we didn’t say “need.” What you think people need and what they really want may or may not be the same. The only way to know is to ask.

  • You’re really ready. If the service is completely new and untested within your organization, consider a brief pilot phase with a small representative group to work out the kinks. It’s a lot easier to adjust at this point than to fix once it’s out there for the whole world to see.

  • You’ve trained support staff completely. Be sure the people who answer emails and phones, vendors, committee members — anyone who could be asked about details of the new service — are comfortable with its content and processes, or can at least refer people for the right information.

by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

We’ve helped several clients conduct simple to elaborate needs assessments and are struck by the seemingly illogical conclusions reached by some high-level managers. When it comes to wellness data, market research rules sometimes get tossed in favor of opinion or the way they think things ought to be. Four common mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t expect your research to necessarily produce dramatic news. Some managers want to justify their project by making something from nothing. If you’re lucky, the data will grow in your direction over time, but just as often it moves in the other direction and you’ve made the wrong decision.
  • Don’t make good news out of bad. If 51% of the survey group is “somewhat in favor” of the action but 29% are “strongly opposed,” you’re probably dealing with a largely neutral to negative audience on this issue — back off, or regroup and try a different approach.
  • Don’t make projections from samples that are too small. Even the most seasoned health promoter will sometimes make a single positive or negative comment the primary factor in changing direction.
  • Don’t mistake opinion for fact. The CEO saying it doesn’t make it so. Counter strong, wrong opinions with data.

Even more common is the paucity of data collected before big decisions are made. If you’re contemplating major additions, deletions, or changes to the way you manage your program, do comprehensive research — internally and externally — then evaluate it honestly.