Burning Questions + Answers

Burning Questions.jpeg

Q. As a Corporate/National Accounts person, how can I be more successful in the IDN/GPO contracting world?
A. You are responsible for your own success.  The essence of marketing is to find the way around barriers. Keep opening doors.  Get personal referrals and introductions. Stop making one-off sales calls. Push for strategy and consistency.

Q. In regard to channel friction, is it getting worse? Are GPOs getting adversarial?
A. Consolidation at all levels across our industry is intensifying competition and innovations are more disruptive than ever.  Technology will forever change the nature of all work. All segments are grappling with relevance to varying degrees and that puts people and companies on edge; I would not single out GPOs in particular.

Q. How do suppliers navigate duplicative channels?  (think of Dignity, Ascension, Northwell, etc.) They are shareholders of GPOs, members of RPCs, direct contract, self-distribute AND want suppliers to be low-cost suppliers. Is this tenable?
A. There are dozens of ways I can purchase a ticket on an airline or buy a book.  At the end of the day, your product and/or service has to have a unique and well thought out value proposition.  Hyper-competition is here to stay and companies must be relentless about being competitive. There will always be inefficiencies in less than perfect markets.  That said, there is room for great improvement. Have you studied Medline lately?

Q. What is the future of contracting? GPOs, IDNs, RPCs? What you see in my crystal ball?
A. Buyers should abrogate contracting for pure commodities to the most efficient vehicle.  Too much time and effort is being spent on redundant activities and VAC processes and meetings.  5000+ hospitals should not be worrying about purchasing and contracting for pure commodity products.

Supplier and provider consolidation will make big winners and big losers…as a supplier, you cannot afford to be outside looking in.  Providers will struggle with consolidation as market and technology move care to alternate locations. Additionally, some systems will become dis-economic and struggle with large overhead costs.

Tax status of not-for-profits will continue to be under close scrutiny from local, state and national taxing authorities.


Why Leadership’s Failing XI


Leadership is failing in part due to the lack of supervision and mentoring that managers and leaders receive. When companies put managers and leaders into supervisory roles, they must invest time and resources to train and coach their managers and leaders. Many managers are evaluated by their direct line supervisor but the supervisor has never actually seen how the employee manages his or her team or direct reports.  Companies do a much better job of monitoring and evaluating and coaching the field sales team and the sales management than they do for other managers in the organization.



Why Leadership’s Failing X


I have always been amazed at senior leaders lack of enthusiasm for the customer.  Frankly, I know some that really don’t care about the customers. More often than not, actions speak louder than words. As a leader, I have been to many a trade show and I knew my peers from competing organizations were also in attendance, but many of them were behind closed doors, rather than meeting with customers on the exhibit floor.  Why did I work the exhibits alongside my commercial team? Support the team….see the customer and send a message. There is more than enough time when the exhibits are closed to conduct personal business.

After all, if you believe Peter Drucker:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”


Why Leadership’s Failing IX

Leadership is Action

Transparency within a company is crucial to gaining the trust of your employees. A disturbing note from a recent book by Jeff Pfeffer:

The Talent Strategy Group surveyed 200 companies in 2014 and found that 73% of companies have decided that lying to their employees about their potential to advance is the right choice. ”Leadership BS”  by Jeff Pfeffer, page 123

To build your company on lies is to build your company on faulty ground…only a matter of time before the employees will lose complete trust in the company leadership.


Why Leadership’s Failing VIII

Success leadershipThe Human Resources Department is consistently under pressure to maintain order in a company and simply cannot be held responsible for poor leadership within the ranks. In many instances, the HR function has lost its clout within the organization.  Companies need to follow the pharma/med device model where a Chief Quality Officer can stop the presses.  Much should be true of a CHRO….they should have board level authority to challenge inappropriate processes and actions and be able to break the glass and pull the handle!




Why Leadership’s Failing VII


Leadership is not reaching its potential impact on the workforce for several reasons, one being the insufficient numbers of bona fide and qualified role models. Studies and surveys show that employees want to lead, but they aren’t getting the experience they need, they are not being coached on how to manage difficult employees and they are not being taught how to deal with conflict, three of the key learnings necessary.  And, for the millennials, leadership development is particularly lacking within companies and they are not being taught how to manage older generations. 

Additionally, companies often fail to value the indispensable skill of leadership, resulting in poor ‘leaders’ being promoted.




Why Leadership’s Failing VI

Roles of Leadership

Throughout this series, we have talked about communication, training and development, dis-economies of scale, and visibility.

Today we want to bring to light how in spite of all the attention and investments given to the topic of both management and leadership, there is still no certification or accreditation in management or leadership. Much like parenting, there is no definitive handbook on best practices, leaving the majority to learn by doing.

Although there are plenty of books available to those who desire to learn fundamental management and leadership skills, companies often fail to provide the environment in which those skills can be practiced and applied.




Why Leadership’s Failing V

I have read recent reports celebrating that logosome 30%+ of companies are no longer using the dreaded, once a year, annual employee demotivating sessions known as performance review. Seriously, why is that something to celebrate? What is taking leaders so long to change this terrible practice and replace it with frequent, informal check-ins now popular with some firms (hurrah for the 30%+)?

Why Leadership’s Failing IV

logo Every week, I speak with executives who lament regarding the lack of training and mentoring going on within their organizations.  Many companies have inadequate development processes and resources.  Companies continue to insert employees into “development assignments” but then fail to support them.  I continue to see this critical gap within companies who have strong diversity initiatives. No investments in training and development, cannot afford it, don’t support it, don’t know what to do.

Why Leadership’s Failing III


Leaders are not present (locked behind a door and captive to email).  Leaders are stuck in their office and in meetings and avoiding wide visibility.

EMAIL (Extraordinary Misuse of An Information Language) is overused and often used inappropriately.

I know one large, public medical device company CEO who used to kick executives out of their offices to go out and visit their customers. (Bravo!)