Is your organisation getting its ‘5 A Day’?


I have just read today’s latest BIG health story; the fact that ‘an apple a day’ may indeed keep the doctor away after all (not that I have anything against doctors, I assure you!).

Aside from making me feel particularly self-satisfied as a looked to the left of my computer to see a nice shiny Braeburn staring back at me, awaiting its inevitable demise during my mid-morning break, this then led on to my usual activity of clicking through a series of recommended linked articles.

I happened upon Dr. Michael Mosley’s recent appraisal of the ‘5-A-Day’ initiative which has been deemed as one of the most successful single public health messages to have been embarked upon by government. There are various things which have been attributed to its (partial) success; a key element of which, it has been decided, lies in the simplicity of the message.

Of course those who are more critical of the ‘5 A Day’ movement and what it has or hasn’t achieved assert that its very simplicity has allowed for the subversion of its original intent by unscrupulous food manufacturers and retailers who can legitimately claim ‘5-A-Day’ on a whole host of products which also happen to contain twice your daily salt, sugar or saturated fat allowance. Also cited by critics is public confusion (ironically confined primarily to the social demographics who are most in need of the advice) around what actually constitutes ‘5-A-Day’ and the broader dietary and health principles behind it.

Now, without wanting to get into the specifics of this any further (as my intention isn’t to commence upon a detailed assessment of any individual public health message or agenda) I began to apply this thinking to the field of organisational development and culture, which is much more in my line of work!

I began thinking, what might an organisational ‘5-A-Day’ look like? Here I’m talking about 5 ‘simple’ rules which, if applied consistently, would support the long term nurture, health and growth of an organisational culture assuring its longevity and sustainability?

How might we keep the metaphorical doctor away from our organisations?

I am referring specifically to attitudes and behaviours; simple-to-understand actions which anybody in any role throughout an organisation could feasibly apply and follow to the benefit of the culture and success of the organisation moving forwards.

Naturally, I have a few ideas of my own on this one, which I will be happy to share in due course, but… in the interests of impartiality and in not wanting to influence your suggestions, I am going to refrain for the time being.

So here is my challenge/question, which I shall make even simpler: forget 5, just give me your organisational ‘Apple a day…’, the one key thing which you think is most important to the cultural health of your organisation.

Let me start you off with one of mine:

Challenge unacceptable practice’ – colleagues feeling confident and able to approach others within the organisation and constructively challenge any inappropriate behaviour or activity which undermines the values, culture and goals of the organisation.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights, from which hopefully, we might be able to begin to piece together the basis of our very own ‘5-A-Day’…


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