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The Health Issue (Winter 2016)

In this issue, we look at business through a 'health' lens. Just as you cannot thrive if your health is compromised in some way, so it goes for organizations, communities, and society in general. We simply can’t have healthy communities without healthy businesses. This issue presents a wide variety of tools and mindsets for improving the health of your business, your employees — and yourself.

Feature articles in this issue:

Feature articles from Rotman Management magazine can be purchased individually as PDF documents.
Click on any title to proceed to the purchase page at hbr.org.

Business of Health
  • Embracing the Business of Health: An Economic Imperative
    Interview with Rotman's Brian Golden by Karen Christensen
    Peter Drucker once said that healthcare organizations are “the most complex form of organization that we have ever attempted to manage." In this wide-ranging interview, an American health-sector strategy expert working in Canada explains why Drucker's statement is true. He goes on to describe the need for patient-centric care and the importance of focusing on the ‘social determinants’ of health. He also compares the Canadian and U.S. systems, the pros and cons of each, and what a truly sustainable healthcare system would look like. In the end, he shows the power of markets in the quest for population health.
Fit Organization
  • The Fit Organization: How to Create A Continuous-Improvement Culture
    by Daniel Markovitz
    ‘Fit' companies don't get that way by accident: they intentionally pursue a course of action that makes them stronger and more agile over time. The author, a long-time consultant to Toyota and an expert on its lean system, presents nine steps to creating a culture of continuous improvement. In the end, he argues, the biggest benefit of embracing this approach is not just improved processes and better-quality outputs: it is the growth and development of your employees—the people who make continuous improvement a reality.
Bright Lights
  • Bright Lights, Healthy Cities: An Integrated Model of City Dynamics
    by Patricia McCarney and Anita M. McGahan
    One of the iconic developments of the 21st century is the growth of cities: by 2050, the number of citizens living in urban areas is expected to exceed 75 per cent—up from 53 per cent today. The implications are many, and the authors look at them through a health lens. They describe five key aspects of urban life that must be carefully considered if people are to thrive in the world's cities. These include 'the primary education of girls' and 'commercial innovation capacity'. They then describe the ISO-approved framework developed by the World Council on City Data, which ranks the world's cities on a number of key elements of overall population health—including issues around water, sanitation and environmental safety.
CEO Spotlight
  • CEO Spotlight: A Thoughtful Approach to Global Growth
    Interview with Stryker CEO Kevin Lobo by Will Mitchell
    Stryker CEO Kevin Lobo describes the challenges and opportunities of running one of the world's most successful global medical technology companies. In a wide-ranging interview, he explains the thinking behind the different types of acquisitions his company has made; the cultural hiccup that one of those acquisitions led to, and how it was handled; and the importance of focusing on the mid-tier market in emerging markets.
Healthy Employees
  • Healthy Employees, Healthy Workplace
    by Ilona Bray
    Forward-looking employers are developing new initiatives that promote employee health and well-being, running the gamut from on-site health screenings to exercise equipment and meditation classes. The result: fewer absences, higher productivity and greater worker retention. The author provides a six-ingredient recipe for leaders to design and implement a program that suits their organizational culture. In the end, she shows that you don't have to turn all your employees into super-athletes addicted to blueberry smoothies for your investment to pay off: even a small reduction in workforce health risks will enable you to and reap the rewards of a healthier workforce.
Scaling Compassion
  • Scaling Compassion: The Story of Google Employee #107
    Interview with Google's Chade-Meng Tan by Karen Christensen
    When Google famously allowed its engineers to spend 20 per cent of their time pursuing a passion, Chade-Meng Tan decided to spend his time on a cause dear to his heart: creating the conditions for world peace within his lifetime. After much research and consultation with scientists, monks, academics and more, he concluded that the road to peace was paved with compassion-the happiest brain state ever recorded by neurologists. His initiative now had a focus, and soon, his Search Inside Yourself program was being delivered at Google and other forward-thinking organizations. He describes his journey and what he believes lies ahead if we are able to scale compassion.
Framework for Healthier Choices
  • A Framework for Healthier Choices: The Hot-Cold Decision Triangle
    by H. Yang, Z. Carmon, B. Kahn, A. Malani, J. Schwartz, K. Volpp, and B. Wansink
    Very often, people don't make the best possible decisions for the long term. The authors argue that the root cause is that our behaviour is guided by two types of processes: System 1 thinking and System 2 thinking. Whereas System 1 tends to operate effortlessly and automatically, the operations of System 2 are slower, more effortful and deliberate. System 1 judgments are based on perceptions, intuitions and emotions, while System 2 judgments in-depth logical analysis and reasoning. Not surprisingly, on a day-to-day basis, System 1 guides most of our behaviour. They introduce The Hot-Cold Decision Triangle, a framework that can enable better choices by enabling us to avoid visceral urges.
Buying time
  • Buying Time: The Science of Happier Spending
    by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael I. Norton
    While they appear to have little in common, time and money are frequently interchangeable. Researchers refer to the amount of time that people spend in an unpleasant mood—when feelings of tension, depression or irritation outweigh feelings of happiness—as the 'U-index'. For instance, people are rarely in an unpleasant mood while exercising, reading or praying; but unpleasant moods are common while working, commuting and doing housework. Sadly, over the past 50 years, the overall U-index has barely budged. The authors show that by re-allocating our time in three key areas—commuting, watching television and spending time with loved ones—we can impact our happiness more powerfully than money ever could.
Aging Population
  • The Aging Population and Its Effects on Business
    by Masud Chand and Rosalie Tung
    By 2050, the global number of people over 60 will reach two billion—three quarters of whom will be from developing countries. The implications for business are many and varied. The authors describe four industries where the impact will be particularly strong. They provide a starting point for leaders to contemplate—and perhaps, begin to shape—what lies ahead. They also show that this long-term discussion will be interdisciplinary in nature and will cut across business, government and societal levels.
Health and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Health and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
    by Roger Martin and Sally Osberg
    Every so often, a society leaps forward to a 'new equilibrium', and the status quo is left behind. The revolutionary thinkers leading the charge find powerful new ways to structure our systems, fundamentally altering how they work. This, write the authors, is the realm of the social entrepreneur. They describe the progress made by Riders for Health to bring healthcare to the furthest regions of rural Africa in a dependable, sustainable manner. In the end, they show that for social entrepreneurs, it is not enough to imagine a way to reduce suffering: their vision is for systemic change. 
Managing Mental Health
  • Managing Mental Health in the Workplace
    by Angela Martin, Megan Woods, and Sarah Dawkins
    One in four adults will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder that impairs their social, interpersonal or occupational functioning, and as a result, mental illness has become a leading global health concern. It is further estimated that the percentage of the population with an undiagnosed mental disorder is almost equivalent to those with diagnosed disorders, and that many of those with mental illness also have substance abuse problems. Given that these issues are so prevalent in the working population, managing employees with ongoing or episodic mental health conditions is a job demand that most managers are likely to face. The authors examine what is required to equip managers—and ultimately, organizations—to deal with these complex situations. 


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