After looking back on my time at my last turnaround, there are several clear takeaways:
- Demonstrate Incremental Benefits…All The Time.
- Taking on long-term projects is dangerous. Sponsors change. Markets change. New technology comes out. If you’re working on a multi-year transformation, you need to demonstrate incremental wins and have clear milestones. You should assume you don’t have the next round of funding and build for success at each point. I could say this is using an Agile approach, but it’s more than that.
- FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS.
- This one probably seems so obvious from the outside looking in, but it’s easy to get carried away with trying to take on too much. In this particular case, we thought we had a 3-year timeframe to build and deliver on the vision. We created a vision of care coordination that was really innovative, but we knew that no one had pulled it off before. We then tried to coordinate care coordination and cost management which also hadn’t been done. It would have been better to deliver one thing at a time and make ourselves incredibly sticky in that area.
- Know Your Customer…Really Well.
- When coming into a business, it’s so important to know the customer base and what they feel about the business. Do they love it? Do they engage regularly? Is it just a commodity? And why. In this case, clients seemed to love the business, but it was because it was a massively customized business doing all the wrong things. As we brought the business into compliance and created re-usable processes, it changed the relationship with the customers. The relationships weren’t sticky, and we didn’t have clear alignment of goals.
- Partner Well.
- When you’re in the early stages of growth, it’s tempting to try to partner with people bigger and leverage their brand. While that can help, it’s often a big distraction. Some times, you commit to something that you can’t achieve putting pressure on a key relationship. And, other times, you put so much at risk tied to the big company that when you realize that you’re not important to them then you have real challenges. This gets back to the traditional understanding of buy, build, or partner and understanding your core competencies.
- Have A Clear Value Proposition.
- You’ll always find early adopters especially when you have a compelling vision, good sales people, and good management. But, they won’t make your business for you if you can’t clearly demonstrate value. You have to have access to data. You have to be able to report on what you do and demonstrate how you’re creating a ROI. In today’s competitive market, companies without a clear value proposition don’t last long.
- Be Different.
- This is a tough one. We all watch the competition and see a path towards success, but as a younger company, trying to compete on price is a sure path to disaster. Like the Blue Ocean Strategy, you want to compete in a different area. Find your niche and do it better than anyone else in a way that is really different. Trying to build something to just catch up always puts you behind.
- Hire Slow and Fire Fast.
- This is something many people say, but they don’t always do. It’s important to get the right team. It’s important to hire in a logical sequence. For example, getting a great sales team before your solution is built is great for the pipeline but frustrating to everyone in between. On the flipside, in a smaller company, a toxic personality or someone that doesn’t fit can kill you. You need to realize that quickly and let them go. No one likes to do it, but you do a disservice to everyone else if you keep them.
The past few years have been really interesting as I learned more about case management, disease management, utilization management, oncology, kidney care, and many other parts of our healthcare system. The key is leveraging all of this as I move forward in my new role.
I think another related topic to think about here is some of the lessons around MVPs (minimum viable products).
I always use the Apple 1 as my case study for an MVP.