Business success depends on looking at all of it

“Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.”~Albert Einstein

When a small business owner approaches me to assist them with developing their business, they tend to take a narrow focus. Looking to produce some kind of change to solve a problem, they typically focus on the tangible aspects of their business, which generally include…

  • Financial results
  • Performance metrics
  • Systems
  • Processes

This hard, quantifiable, factual stuff fits nicely on a spreadsheet. They all impact the growth and development of a business.

Yet change efforts often fail because of too narrow a focus on the tangible aspects.

Equally important and what  tends to receive much less focus are the intangible aspects of a business. This often is the Achilles heel of the business owner.

The intangible aspects include…

  • Purpose
  • Values
  • Passion
  • Alignment
  • Trust
  • Responsibility

These elements are soft stuff- emotional, and subjective.
They don’t fit on a spreadsheet.

Yet, they are the high leverage points in creating extraordinary results and have more to do with your success as a business owner than a business plan.

When people are aligned around a common vision, committed, passionate, engaged and hold themselves responsible for producing a result, the business will succeed.

Include Both

Philosopher Ken Wilber’s Integral Model offers a way of looking (lens, framework) at a business that includes both the tangible and intangible elements. It can result in change efforts being very successful.

Here’s what the model looks like…











The upper quadrants deal with the individual.
The lower quadrant deals with the group (organization, team).
The two left quadrants represent the inner, intangible, subjective aspects
of change.
The two right-hand quadrants represent the outer, observable,
objective aspects.

It’s easier (maybe I should say more comfortable) for a business owner to focus on the objective side (upper right and lower right quadrants) of the business rather than the subjective side (upper left and lower left). The subjective side may be related to as too “airy fairy,” too messy.

For example, I’ve worked with business owners who won’t have what are referred to as “difficult conversations,” as in telling a long term employee that they’re not performing at a satisfactory level. Costly!

I’ve worked with the CEO of a company who had recently celebrated his 45th birthday and realized that he wanted to have a child but his wife wasn’t ok with this. It affected his ability to effectively lead his management team because he was distracted by this issue. Costly!

In order for the business owner to produce their intended results, ALL QUADRANTS MUST BE ADDRESSED.


  1. For each quadrant, list the key aspects that comprise your business.
  2. In which quadrant are you having the most difficulty in identifying those aspects?
  3. How would you account for this?
  4. What’s missing?
  5. In which quadrants do you need to focus your attention?
  6. What actions are required?










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