Setting Professional Licensing Standards - Should We ?

Perhaps you've seen the news, bills in Georgia and Texas are the latest legislation that has been introduced relating to personal trainer licensing.This, along with other pending legislative initiatives, are opposed by IHRSA, which said in a recent statement regarding one of the bills, "“The legislation, SB 695, would be extremely detrimental to the industry and would have the dual effect of reducing the number of personal trainers and group exercise instructors and the number of consumers who are able to use their services to pursue healthier lifestyles." Really ? So is the answer to battle each legisltative issue state by state and assume there should NOT be a minimum standard ? (see follow up post from Helen Drukin below cliarfying IHRSA position).

This morning I read an article by Elaine Platt, owner of Smart Workout, titled "We Need To Set The Standard For Licensing Legislation". In the article Elaine writes:

From what I’ve read, it appears that the umbrella organizations of our industry are against requiring licensing. It is from this position that I respectfully dissent. I believe that licensing is much needed and would be positive for the industry. I implore these organizations to re-deploy their lobbying efforts. Instead of trying to defeat this legislation, they should endeavor to ensure their own participation in the licensing process. Our industry organizations should work with legislators to formulate legislation providing that certifications from agencies recommended by them would become the criteria for obtaining a license. States don’t know how to measure competency in the fitness field. They need industry groups to provide them with standards.

Isn't Elain right ? How can we move the fitness industry forward to become a meaningful solution to the sick care crisis without uniform minimal certification standards ? Do you think doctors are going to be comfotrable referring their patients to facilities without standards ? Many of the industrialized countries around the world have these requirements. As an article titled "Dangerous Personal Trainers pointed out in Women's Health:

Trainers don't need to meet any federal or state requirements. Even the woman who waxes your upper lip may have had more training--and she is certainly subject to more legal oversight--than the one who pushes your cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems; jacks up your heart rate and blood pressure; and strains your joints and ligaments.

Why do you think organization's like IHRSA oppose minimum fitness trainer certification standards ? Please write me Bryan O'Rourke, and share your views. What's keeping the fitness industry from helping to create a solution to this problem and elevate the industry ? What do you think ?

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, and shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He consults with global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank is Chair of the Medical Fitness Association’s Education Committee, is President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and a partner in Fitmarc, Integerus, Fitsomo and the Flywheel Group. To learn more contact Bryan here today .

The New Paradigm of Content - It Isn't Just About Books

NYT reporter Nick Bilton shared an insightful article on the recent post of book publisher, designer and writer Craig Mod (on the left with monks) titled "Former Book Designer says Good Riddance to Print". It caught my attention because there are a few things Craig shares that not only apply to the book industry and they apply to ALL industries relating to content. Here are Craig's two most important points.

1. Content can be broadly grouped into two types: content where the form is important, such as poetry or text with graphics, and content where form is divorced from layout, which he says applies to most novels and non-fiction. This same categorization applies to other content formats.

2. Instead of arguing about pixels versus paper, as many book lovers tend to do, or any form of content comparison including vinyl vs. digital iPod for that matter, it is more useful to focus on whether the technology is a good match for the content. In other words, does the format make the content more appropriately consumable ? This is where new technologies will not just be replacing how things were done but creating new ways that heretofore where impossible.

When evaluating the issue of content and its deployment Craig's approach clarifies some questions. For example, I work in the fitness industry and witness the distribution of program content in the form of hard copy DVD and CD's. In the arena of fitness education, which is what this hard copy content is used for,  the content is very difficult to consume, a direct function of the manner in which the content is deployed.  When evaluating the replacement of this hard copy content, there is no doubt that new interactive forms will be of great benefit. As Nick points out in the article:

"Mr. Mod also discusses the need to push the boundaries of how we interact with content on these devices. Apples’s iBookstore, for example, takes the book metaphors too literally in a digital setting and doesn’t innovate enough given the tools at hand. “The metaphor of flipping pages already feels boring and forced on the iPhone. I suspect it will feel even more so on the iPad. The flow of content no longer has to be chunked into ‘page’ sized bites.” For hundreds of years, we’ve been consuming information on static pages, and for the most part, this content has been presented with a beginning, middle and end. Nonlinear, digital platforms will prompt a new range of thinking about stories and how to tell them."

For all the objections every industry will have to change and the upheavals it creates, the bottom line is that these technologies will have a great benefit in making people more productive. I'll leave you with this final quote which should be enough of a reason for folks to stop objecting so much to the idea that old copy books will be largely eliminated. There is much good when you really think about it:

"Once we dump this weight, we can prune our increasingly obsolete network of distribution. As physicality disappears, so, too, does the need to fly dead trees around the world.”

How Health Care Can Deliver Better Quality at Lower Costs

I know, we are all sick and tired of the health care debate. But, while reading Don Clark's article in the WSJ today titled Chip Pioneer, Genetech Vet Bring High-Tech Sensibility to Medicine, the answer to how improved quality and lower costs will be achieved becomes clearer; and the solution won't be akin to rearranging the proverbial deck furniture on the health care Titanic. Therefore, I thought it worth a brief exploration.

The WSJ article sets forth a unique partnership of people interested in changing a system that does not make sense. You see technologist and former Intel Chairman Andy Grove and the charming and accomplished Susan Desmond-Hellmann , now Chancellor for UCSF, come from two very different industries, high tech and health care, but they see the same problem in how the health care system is broken and are doing something REAL to fix it. Kudos to Don Clark for identifying the two and their efforts.

We see this in industry everywhere. Existing leadership invested in past modalities having little affect on real outcomes because they are not REALLY changing how things are done. Health care is no different. As an example when asked why the system of health care is not driving costs down, Ms. Desmond-Hellman reflects:

There are a number of reasons, but the most important one is that there are no real incentives that drive cost as being a key parameter. If you are in product development, if you are developing new therapies, the most important barrier is Food and Drug Administration approval. The FDA has two metrics for success: safe and effective. Neither of those metrics has anything to do with cost. It's entirely different than every time you get a new iPod—it's got new features and it's cheaper.

She's right and more and more industries must adopt new models in order to have a real impact on the problems they are facing. Andy Grove shared a similar view when explaining why he is involved in doing something about health care:

The problem that actually bothered me is that there are dozens of ways of dealing with cancer in mice or neurological diseases in mice, and none made it across the chasm [to market].

Now UCSF is collaborating with the University of California, Berkeley to offer a two-year master's degree in "translational medicine," the discipline of transferring lab breakthroughs to the marketplace. The MBA-style program, which he helped establish with a $1.5 million donation, will target students from both medical and high-tech fields. Hopefully Mr. Grove's idea of using Silicon Valley-style techniques to speed and improve medical research will pay off.

Again, great article Don. Thanks for sharing it. Watch Susan's address on health care innovation below to learn more.


We Need More & Better Leaders

Ironically, technical competencies are not the most valuable keys to success in light of the massive changes brought on by radical advances in technology, shifting demographics and the rise of competing global players. More than any single skill or means of adaptation that an individual or group will benefit from today is leadership. I think many might share the view that we certainly need more of it. At the center of most of our most fundamental challenges is the illusive stuff of leadership.

Leadership has been defined as a “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. Alan Keith of Genentech exposed that, "Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen." Effective leadership is a series of behaviors based on a belief system that successfully integrates and maximizes available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational goals. So why don't we see more of it ?

The gulf of leadership is largely a function of people's fears of failure and need to avoid discomfort and pain. True leadership is founded on a unique combination of humility, drive, curiosity, integrity, emotional intelligence and conviction. In our culture today many see leadership as notoriety, extravagance and hubris, reflecting a poor understanding of what it is. Great leaders are teachers, not doers, and in a world where there is belief that organizational achievement is a reflection of a single individual, teaching isn't as valued.

Mark Sanborn shares an interesting view on the failures of leaders and his 6 warning signs. A brief video clip from one of his lectures on leadership is included above. Leadership is not reflective of a dictator or task master. It is more represented by Deming's 14 points. There are fundamental components of leadership which can be applied to you and your organization which anyone at any level can offer. Want to be more successful during the tidal wave of change ? Try and adopt and reinforce with others you work with the 6 principals outlined below.

1. Knowing and focusing on what is important

2. Understanding each players role

3. Driving out risk aversion and fear as key motivators

4. Being competent in what is done

5. Having integrity by actions not words

6. Really caring about what is done, yourself and others