Corporate Health: Who Cares for Ailing Organizations?

Corporate Health: Who Cares for Ailing Organizations? 710 362 The Body Corporate

For the first half of my professional career I was a physician caring for sick people. For the second half I worked for large corporations. From the inside, I realized that these organizations are built just like our own bodies. They have similar anatomy and physiology to humans. It seemed logical then to wake in the middle of the night worrying about who cares for sick organizations.

If Blackberry was a person, would he have a team of specialists running diagnostics and expensive interventions, desperately trying to defend his declining health? Would Target have been admitted to an acute care facility after the 2013 data breach? If Big Pharma was human, would she be a frequent visitor to fertility clinics? Would Illinois, ranked as the worst run American state in a 24/7 Wall St survey, be referred to a rehab clinic? Would the retirement and assisted living organizations, belonging to the least profitable industry as demonstrated in a recent Sageworks study, be held in an isolation unit to prevent the infection from spreading? Would Books-a-Million and Express Scripts, the worst companies to work for based on public reviews submitted to career website, have social workers allocated to them to supervise long-term therapy?

We already have an extensive team of organizational healthcare practitioners that swarm the corporate corridors. We have analysts and journalists that offer diagnostic opinions like corporate physicians. Surgeons are brought in at times of financial crisis to sell-off subsidiaries or amputate departments and divisions in outsourcing or downsizing exercises. Auditors monitor financial status and compliance officers track moral health like pathologists and radiologists. Strategy consultants and change managers are brought in like therapists and psychiatrists. Investment bankers serve as transplant surgeons during mergers and acquisitions. We even have coroners and morticians that perform autopsies and attend to the disposal of deceased organizations. At the other end of life, we have incubators for start-ups supervised by venture capitalists and tech transfer departments in major research institutions, the corporate pediatricians and neonatologists respectively.

Many mysteries in corporate care still need to be solved. How could we possibly hospitalize a huge global multinational? Who should be responsible for containing dangerous epidemics like intellectual property neglect? Where is the single textbook that defines corporate health and disease, providing a common lexicon for all corporate care practitioners, and diagnostic and treatment algorithms of universal relevance? Perhaps the dream we should all hold onto is the emergence of corporate immunization. Pasteur revolutionized our approach to infectious disease. We need his modern equivalent to discover ways to inoculate against common organizational ailments, heralding the age of preventative corporate medicine.

Perhaps I will sleep well again tonight in the secure knowledge that there will always be work for those who care for humans and their organizations!

Have fun,



(Roddy Carter is an executive consultant who uses nature to provide analogues for human organizational structure and function. Through the BioSimilar Programs he helps organizations select and learn from a species or environment that closely resembles their own circumstances. This is a fun way to build and implement strategy and to enhance performance. Please reach out through the connect tab at if you’d like to explore a BioSimilar Program in your organization.)

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