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4 Quadrants of Business

by Dave Kovar


In my 40-plus years of running a martial arts school, I have seen many people come and go. I’ve also seen a handful of organizations that have continued to grow and thrive, decade after decade. In my effort to find out what has kept those schools in the game for so long, I’ve stumbled across what I refer to as the “four quadrants.” Although they might not use this terminology, the schools that excel have these in common.

The four quadrants consist of the individual and the team when viewed from an internal and an external perspective. They’re loosely based on my studies of Ken Wilber’s program on Integral Business.


1 — Individual Internal                                          2 — Team Internal

Meaning and purpose                                             Company culture


3 — Individual External                                        4 — Team External

Compensation and incentives                               Business systems, strategies and tactics


1 — Individual Internal

For a company to thrive, the intrinsic needs of the individual must be met. When a team member feels that his or her job has meaning and purpose, the person is more committed to what’s being done and will go the extra mile for teammates and students.

Also, in general, one of the strongest indicators of a happy life is a job that has meaning and purpose. This is why we always begin our staff meetings with success stories from the schools. The more we celebrate our students’ victories, the more each member of our team is reminded of the importance of his or her job.


2 — Team Internal

A person can find great meaning in his or her job, but if he or she doesn’t get along with teammates, the person might decide to do that job somewhere else. That’s why company culture is so important. It’s much more than having a slick mission statement on the wall and giving lip service to loyalty and teamwork.

As Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You can’t fake a good culture. It is something that’s developed over time. Every company has a culture. The question is, Is your current culture the one you want? Your culture improves every time you go to battle for one of your teammates. It improves every time you show loyalty and every time you reward it when you see it.


3 — Individual External

A person can find meaning and purpose in a job and love his or her co-workers and employer, but if the person’s income is insufficient or time off is inadequate, the employee won’t be around for the long haul. A well-run school should allow the owner to pay his or her key full-timers wages that are comparable to other working professionals such as firefighters and schoolteachers, as well as provide medical insurance, PTO and a 401(k).


4 — Team External

This refers to business systems, strategies and tactics. It’s the area that most people immediately focus on when they think their business is not doing as well as it should. Early in my career, there were very few people who could guide me in these areas, so many of us just made it up as we went along. Now, however, there’s a plethora of information available.


In any business, the keys to success are identifying and acknowledging weak areas. I encourage you to analyze your business using the four quadrants as your guide. In the areas where you are strong, keep doing what you’re doing. In the areas where you may be weak, finds ways to strengthen the relevant portions of your business.


To contact Dave Kovar, send an email to [email protected].


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