What Does Border's Bankruptcy Have To Do With Health Clubs ?

My friend Michael Scudder Skyped me this am and asked if I had seen the news on Borders, who just filed for Chapter 11. His skype text said,

Good morning, Bryan!  I assume you saw that Borders declared bankruptcy this morning.  You called that shot a couple of years ago.  Indications for the bricks-and-mortar fitness industry??

I wish I were that smart Michael. However, it is true that the head winds contributing to the book industry's reinvention, ala Borders, are also being faced by the Bricks and Mortar fitness industry.

THE key component of business model viability is this: can an organization consistently create and deliver something at a certain cost and sell it at a higher price ? This is a challenge for many industries and it is instructive to watch what is happening in the book store business today as the "middle men", the publishing and retail book store industries are getting squeezed. The entire book industry is starting to experience what every business is going to experience: tremendous upheaval as creators have more options to create and distribute goods and services. Thus alternative solutions to customer needs are reinventing markets and business models.

Geoffrey Fowler and Jeffrey Trachtenberg wrote a great WSJ article titled, "Vanity Press Goes Digital" , which dissect the shift occurring in book creation. Here is a excerpt:

But some publishers say that online self-publishing and the entry of newcomers such as Amazon into the market could mark a sea change in publishing.

"It's a threat to publishers' control over authors," said Richard Nash, former publisher of Soft Skull Press who recently launched Cursor Inc., a new publishing company. "It shows best-selling authors that there are alternatives—they can hire their own publicist, their own online marketing specialist, a freelance editor, and a distribution service."

In the fitness industry, as with many other industries, there are similarities to the book business. If you are skeptical of what I am saying realize history includes many examples. Long before there were iPads and Kindles were other disruptive technologies like the printing press and Guttenberg Bible. turned the world on its head. We are here again. I think the bricks and mortar fitness business will survive, but there will be increasing competition from alternative digital services and competitors who blend a combination of digital and personal delivery that create unique customer member experience.

So tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, what do you think ? Does the Border's Bankrtupcy relate to the health club industry ? Are changes in the business models for health clubs going to create opportunities and disruptions in the industry ?

Watch the interesting video below and thanks for your thoughts.


The Surprising Secret To A Better Organization - Watch

The secret isn't really secret: building a great organization is about getting talented people to work together toward a common goal. Actually doing it is the challenge and that is where many folks get it wrong.

I continue to see organizations and leaders approaching this challenge with old school methods that just don't work. For example, incentives and false motivational tactics; these are PROVEN to be ineffective, yet so many still attempt to operate their organizations in this manner.

Are you "old school" and have trouble believing that something like incentives don't work ? Read on.....

In Dan Pink's new book Drive he makes the distinction between extrinsic motivators like strict schedules and large bonuses and intrinsic motivators like autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Dan makes the case that employees performing jobs that require more than just basic cognition, are less productive when motivated by an extrinsic source than an intrinsic source. Watch the RSA presentation by Dan below and perhaps you'll get a grasp on the secret: helping people in an organization obtain more autonomy, purpose and mastery of their skills is the real secret to more productivity.


D8 - Watch Candid Interviews About the Future of Technology

With technology's rapid advancements, keeping up with the digital world's leadership and vision of the future is always interesting and educational. Since debuting in 2003, The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference has delivered straight-up conversations with the most influential figures in media and technology, you'll see the list below and it includes the unbiquitous Steve Jobs and others. I always find the content interesting and worthwhile.
The 2010 D8, the eighth annual All Things Digital Conference, ran from June 1-3. Creators and executive producers Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher put the industry’s top players to the test.

Visit AllThingsD.com’s D8 pages for blog coverage, video and photos. The speakers for D8 are outlined with links below. Read and watch !


Tim Armstrong | Chairman and CEO of AOL

Steve Ballmer | CEO of Microsoft

Lloyd Braun | Co-owner of BermanBraun

Steve Burke | COO of Comcast

James Cameron | Director, Producer, Writer

Steve Case | Chairman and CEO of Revolution

Peter Chou | CEO of HTC

John Donahoe | President and CEO of eBay

Julius Genachowski | Chairman of the FCC

Paul Jacobs | CEO of Qualcomm

Steve Jobs | CEO of Apple

Jeffrey Katzenberg | CEO of Dreamworks Animation SKG

Steven Levitan | Co-Creator and Executive Producer of “Modern Family”

Alan Mulally | CEO of Ford

Ray Ozzie | Chief Software Architect of Microsoft

Richard Rosenblatt | Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Demand Media

Vivian Schiller | President and CEO of NPR

Paul Steiger | Editor-in-Chief, President and Chief Executive of ProPublica

Mark Zuckerberg | Founder and CEO of Facebook

Telemedicine Going Mainstream - Is Telefitness Far Behind ?

Reliable video conferencing is having great impact on a variety of industries with health care now being one. There are not enough doctors and in particular not enough specialists available when and where they might be needed. Furthermore, the cost of delivering care when patients don't have access is much more costly than the relatively less expensive alternative of telemedicine. As a result, firms like NuPhysicia have emerged to deliver physician services anytime and anywhere.

As NYT reporter Milt Freudenheim recently reported in his article, "The Doctor Will See You Now, Please Log On":

The interactive telemedicine business has been growing by almost 10 percent annually, to more than $500 million in revenue in North America this year, according to Datamonitor, the market research firm. It is part of the $3.9 billion telemedicine category that includes monitoring devices in homes and hundreds of health care applications for smartphones.

Christine Chang, a health care technology analyst at Datamonitor’s Ovum unit, says telemedicine will allow doctors to take better care of larger numbers of patients. “Some patients will be seen by teleconferencing, some will send questions by e-mail, others will be monitored” using digitized data on symptoms or indicators like glucose levels, she says.Eventually, she predicts, “one patient a day might come into a doctor’s office, in person.”

If reimbursements for lower cost options like telemedicine in "sick-care" are emerging, why not fitness and wellness which generate an even greater ROI ? The day is coming when a combination of the economic incentive for being well, and the available technologies for delivering high value wellness and fitness services to individuals via new tools like videconferencing will emerge. Watch the brief video on NuPhysicia and welcome to the revolution.


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.