Luminous Analogy between Cholesterol and Overhead

Overhead is a lot akin to cholesterol. Both have been targets of severe criticism. Both can induce fatty deposits; one clogs the insides of human arteries, the other congests a corporation’s metabolism.

Both have been severely misunderstood. Cholesterol plays a very important role in human chemistry. It forms the nucleus of the vitamin D molecule, the neutrient that builds strong bones. It is a component of several sex and regulatory hormones and contributes to the fluidity of cell membranes. Often thought to be fat, it isn’t. Actually it helps make the bile salts that emulsify fats in the intestine.

Cholesterol is manufactured within the body. Problems arise, though, when it is ingested. Its internal production goes on regardless of the amount taken in, and its chemistry is such that it is hard to break down once a surplus occurs.

Cholesterol comes in two types, depending on how it is being transported in the bloodstream. As those who have had tests for cholesterol know, one of these types (called HDL) is sometimes dubbed “good cholesterol” because it moves to the liver where it can do something useful for the body. “Bad cholesterol” (identified as “LDL”) tends to stay put, thus resulting in deposits on artery walls. Heart attacks are often associated with high levels of the LDL variety, and decreased risk of having coronary disease with concentrations of HDL.

The relative balance between HDL and LDL is, in part, controllable. LDL increases when diets are rich in animal fats; regular aerobic exercise leads to more HDL.

Overhead like cholesterol is something that naturally occurs to make effective functioning possible. It plays a key role in regulating the proper balance among a business’s diverse activities. As with cholesterol, problems arise when too much overhead is imposed on the business from the outside. It is hard to remove once in place and, like some people’s dietary limitation regimes, it can be painful to cut back. Corporate aerobics, such as workout, can keep overhead in check, but only temporarily.

There are also two kinds of overhead: good and bad. Good carries its own weight, and then some; bad only contributes bulk. The processes workout and process reengineering, are good tools to help make these distinctions. But in some cases, a deeper, more thoughtful, examination is necessary than can be provided in the gungho, take-no-prisoners atmosphere of these outplacement mechanisms for work and time.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact



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