The New Era Of Ideas - Is The Health Club Industry Ready ?

Creativity, innovation, disruption; you know the buzz words. I and many others have written extensively on the topic; from the creative destruction of health and wellness to the latest innovations in fitness and health. Why ? I hear it from many well respected and highly touted professionals almost daily, "The Fitness and Health Club Industry have got to change." The purpose for writing on these subjects is to reassure my colleagues that yes things are going to change and its going to be sooner than later.

That notion was reinforced this Sunday morning, as I paged through the latest content streams for the week ahead, I saw something that reinforced the views of one of my favorite business leaders CK Prahalad and indirectly bolstered my thinking that the new era of ideas is going to take hold very soon in the health club and fitness industry. What did I see ?

A new company called Tile ; (video is below), is launching a matchbook sized Bluetooth device that aims to ignite a community movement around keeping track of items in life. They used Crowdfunding with the Selfstarter platform and raised over $1.8 Million . The device is really cool and it was started by two guys. That's it. Something was created that could not have been possible only a few years ago. The idea was funded by thousands of strangers via the Internet. Amazing. Yes, the new era of ideas is here and to the extent two people can figure out how to track stuff in the manner that Tile does, well there are going to be many equally cool ways to do things in the health club and fitness space that no one has consider or was possible just a few years ago.

What this means for the health club and fitness industry is that just like Tile, groups of open minded people armed with new business tactics like crowdfunding and an understanding of technology are going to be able to deliver new products and services that are revolutionary. I meet entrepreneurs like them all of the time. They will create entirely new possibilities and usher in a new era for health clubs and fitness . In the era of new ideas, the past means less and less and that means a whole new era of opportunities lies ahead. Who you know and what you did before will not matter in a world of ideas where the freshest and brightest approaches will be able to get to market faster and with less objection than ever before.

CK Prahald noted the two key barriers to innovation: not accepting that things have REALLY changed and anchoring yourself in the logic of the past instead of embracing the new. When one sees a solution like Tile, it only goes to prove the point that true innovation in the health club and fitness industry will come from a similar place. Is the industry ready ? I think it is because it doesn't have a choice.

Tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, what you think about the new era of ideas. Is the Health Club and Fitness Industry ready for all of this potential ? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He works for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US and heads up the firms Integerus and Fitsomo. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org ). Recently Bryan was named to the ACE industry advisory panel.  To learn more contact Bryan here today.

 

Is Innovation Missing Its Purpose ? Often The Answer Is Yes; Health Clubs Should Take Note

I've referenced Brian Solis before. During a recent interview with (famous in tech circles) Jesse James Garrett (below) he explores the notion of innovation and user (aka customer) experience. Garrett is a thought leader in the emerging world of user experience (UX) and wrote the book The Elements of User Experience (check it out). Leaders in the health club and fitness industries should take heed. Here are some exerpts (paraphrased):

Innovation often comes from Gorilla Movements in organizaitons that bubble up to people at the top.....Is Innovation missing its purpose ? Quite often it is....People that are really good at user experience and innovation are good at distinguishing "Innovation" from "Novelty".

Its very hard for leaders to see what is coming, given the rate of change today. So I thought the Solis interview came at the perfect time, following my read of the @IHRSA Club Business International , article Fresh Face of Fitness. In that article my friend and colleauge Rasmus Ingerslev, CEO of Wexer and Health Club chain Fresh Fitness was deservedly featured. Here's a slice of the article on Rasmus Ingerslev:

Just as in any other industry, ours keeps evolving faster and faster. In the process, competition is intensifying. As a result, there will likely be even more segmentation, which will create clear value propositions in the niche, low-, mid- and high-end markets. On the positive side, I believe this will help attract more members, growing the overall market. My concern is that we’ll see bubbles in segments that grow too fast, specifically the low-cost sector, and collapses in the middle-market. The latter may be the toughest position, as it’s at risk of being viewed as neither fowl nor fish. But, as in any industry, there will always be room for best-in-class.

In a business where many leaders are still focusing on differentiation in simple ways, more forward thinking pros like Rasmus are combing new delivery methods and customer service models that are completely different (live group classes and digitally deliivered classes are an example). I think what Rasmus says is very on target. His vision reflects what its going to take to achieve success in the fitness and health club industry in the years ahead. Deeply understanding customers and their emerging needs are critical to success in the future. Unfortunately many in the business think novelty is innovation and they will soon discover how wrong they were to do so. This is particularly true when it comes to blending bricks and mortar and digital technology solutions as Rasmus has.

Watch the interview below with Brian Solis and Jessse James Garrett as they discuss UX. Congrats to my friend Rasmus Ingerslev for his success and vision. What do you think about Fresh Fitness and Wexer ? Do you see this type of innovation as more than a novelty ? How do you think leading brands could improve UX ? Please share your views with me, Bryan O'Rourke. Thanks for your thoughts.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, 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 .

How Much "Innovation" Is REALLY Going On ?

The introduction of something NEW, now there's a novel idea. When I read the WSJ article by Leslie Kwoh, "You Call That Innovation ? Companies Love to Say They Innovate, But the Term Has Begun to Lose Meaning"; it struck a cord. As she says, "innovation is in danger of becoming a cliche', if it isn't one already." Her article made me think because a successfull Linkedin Group I created and manage is titled, "Fitness and Wellness Innovation"; Now I'm considering a name change.

Innovation, based in the Latin term innovatus, meaning renewal or change, has become divorced from its essence in many of today's popular organizational pursuits. Many leaders use the term to describe activities which are hardly innovative at all. I know of one CEO in particular who has used the term incessantly during talks over the past two years while their organization hardly innovated anything at all; it's embarrassing. Why ?

The efforts of many in industries and organizations have more to do with self preservation than addressing a future that isn't kind to past abilities or thinking. I guess if people say the term innovation enough they might believe they're actually innovating. While any change could be technically termed innovation, the reality is that real innovation is much more - its disruptive and disruption is rarely born from parents of the status quo. Why is this important ? Industries are changing and very quickly, so if you're not on top of that change you are likely going to become extinct. Don't believe me ? Check this out.

Like many, the fitness and wellness industries reflect a culture steeped in protecting the past. As I wrote in an article in 2011, How Does The Fitness Industry Change Its Mindset ? , :

...while the fitness and wellness industry has grown over the past quarter century, obesity and health quality in the developed world have not improved.  Many argue they've gotten worse. The fitness industry still serves about 15% of the adult population while failing to broaden its appeal to the not yet fit. Something is broken because things have not improved and I fear the industry is failing to reach its promise and as a result, things need to change - but how ?

Innovation; as Vijay Govindarajan, Professor at the Tucks School of Business at Dartmouth and co-author of 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators , is about 2 major things. First, leaders must accept things ARE changing and figure out how to adapt accordingly. Second, leaders must understand change is NOT a technical problem its a MINDSET problem. Therefore to enable a business or even an industry to adapt one must introduce NEW mindsets.

Dr. Govindarajan is right and the problem for leaders in any industry when it comes to "Innovation" is that it is often white wash because really innovating means people at the top might have to admit they don't know the answer and even that they might be or have been WRONG. As Kwoh points out when quoting Harvard professor and author Clayton Christensen,

"Most companies say they're innovative in the hope they can somehow con investors into thinking there is growth when there isn't." WOW, but SO true.

If the fitness, health club and wellness industries and organizations participating within these industries want to innovate, they must do 2 things: admit things are REALLY changing and accept enduring the change requires changing their MINDSETS. That requires opening the door to new voices and new leadership.

So the next time you hear someone use the term "Innovate" listen up and question if it is really innovation at all. Are you being "conned" as Christensen says, or are they part of a new order of things ?

What do you think about the term innovation ? Please share your thoughts with me, Bryan O'Rourke and thanks for reading the post.

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 .

How Does The Fitness Industry Change Its Mindset ?

The facts are that while the fitness and wellness industry has grown over the past quarter century, obesity and health quality in the developed world have not improved.  Many argue they've gotten worse. The fitness industry still serves about 15% of the adult population while failing to broaden its appeal to the not yet fit. Something is broken because things have not improved and I fear the industry is failing to reach its promise and as a result, things need to change - but how ?

Innovation; as Vijay Govindarajan, Professor at the Tucks School of Business at Dartmouth and co-author of 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators , is about 2 major things. First, leaders must accept things ARE changing and figure out how to adapt accordingly. Second, leaders must understand change is NOT a technical problem its a MINDSET problem. Therefore to enable a business or even an industry to adapt one must introduce NEW mindsets.

In the fitness industry this means having the courage to bring in fresh voices from outside the industry. It also requires new performance measures, the embracement of collaboration, and developing a culture that tolerates or even rewards failure.

What do you think ? Contact me Bryan O'Rourke and share your views. How can the fitness industry change its mindset ? Is there a reluctance to bring in new voices ? Do you think the fitness and wellness industry should change its thinking if it is going to truly have a real impact on the quality of more people's lives ? Do you believe intiatives like the Weekly Fitness Challenge reflect new ways of doing things that can make a difference ? Let me hear your views !


Message To The Fitness Industry - Real Innovation Requires Changing Your Thinking

One of my favorite quotes is that of Daniel Boorstin who observed, "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." Boorstin, a renowned historian and former Librarian of Congress who wrote numerous books including, The Genius of American Politics, Democracy and Its Discontents, and The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson, was right. Overcoming challenges is largely a function of letting go of assumptions. As he put it, "If we think we know something, then we face an obstacle to innovation." In his 1983 bestseller The Discoverers , the author chronicled the achievements of Galileo, Columbus, Darwin, Gutenberg and Freud, among others, who emerged as drivers of creativity and courage, and committed ingenious acts of revolt against ingrained habit. Great discoverers dispel illusions and reveal something new about the world as is further evidenced by Boorstin's interpretation of Thomas Jefferson's contributions and philosophies, when he said,

"Jefferson, in my opinion, was the apostle of experience. In other words, he was the person who believed that everything had to change. He thought that every generation should have the opportunity to have its own revolution, to write its own laws, and that was his vision of the past and the future"

Given the crisis of obesity "Globesity as Phillip and Jackie Mills call it" should we not evaluate how the growing fitness industry has not really impacted the problem ? Reliance upon Boorstin's realizations and the lessons of history are more relevant than ever, as is the need for leaders to emerge, dispel illusion and move us forward via our own revolution in the fitness and wellness industry. Obviously what we have been doing has not been working.

Could institutional thinking in fitness and wellness be the very "illusion of knowledge" Boorstin identified? Classic institutions are by nature closed, selective and controlling. Persons participating in institutional thinking have to be "careful" of what they absorb, guarded with whom they interact and controlling of everything. Essentially, risk aversion and maintenance of the status quo is the dna of most institutions and thus the reasons most institutions are failing in an increasingly network oriented world. Are our institutions then at the heart of the problem ?

No matter the debate; be it health care, education, or your organization's effectiveness, adopting network strategies and dispelling institutional dogma is at the core of true innovation. Watch the video by Thomas Power who describes institutional thinking, its limits and the opportunity that the new paradigm provides.

What do you think ? Does the fitness and wellness industry need to change its mindset in order to become more effective at impacting the health crisis we face today ? Please contact me Bryan O'Rourke, and share your views.