Tag Archives: Venture capital

Go ahead and stir the pot! Being provocative and disagreeing to move the conversation forward

This morning, I was on a panel at BIO International Convention in San Francisco to discuss what digital health technologies can learn from the experience of personalized medicine. I was invited to participate with esteemed colleagues (all female, by the way!) representing various aspects of the health care technology sector: physician, investor, data and evidence analyst, and payer strategist (yours truly).

We were well prepared going into the panel session, with multiple conference calls to coordinate on who will share what, and which case studies were relevant and insightful. I was excited to participate in this collaborative session, and I was looking forward to engaging audience members.

In fact, the content was so engaging that I admit I totally went off-script. When you are passionate about ensuring people take away important lessons from the panel, sometimes you just have to move off the softball content into provocative territory.

If it means I get pegged as the Debbie Downer, so be it.

If it means I provide the perspective of unpopular stakeholders, those who are often used as scapegoats, so be it.

If it means telling people what they don’t want to hear, so be it.

I’ve done my job.

The session was fantastic, and my fellow panelists were gracious and inclusive. But I admit that I am most proud of challenging assumptions, exposing inherent flaws in the system, and moving us away from what others should do to what we can do.

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Daily Prompt: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

You need to make a major change in your life. Do you make it all at once, cold turkey style, or incrementally? 

Today’s Daily Post suggestion asks about making changes. What I come across more often in the business world are executives unwilling to make changes, even when a freight train at top speed is headed right in the direction of their business.

Why is this? So many of my clients are early-stage, venture-backed firms. They’ve sold a story to the Board, to their investors, and the money is earmarked for X, Y, and Z. Being infused with cash is a great way to kick up a lot of dust and start maniacally doing a bunch of stuff. My favorite? Go out and hire a bunch of sales reps. Sell, sell, sell!

I often cringe at this, as it can be a premature move in the medical technology arena I work in, where medical insurance companies won’t cover or pay for a new product at first, resulting in doctors and patients giving you a lot of grief about it, negatively impacting sales. I always say, go ahead and invest in ensuring insurance companies will cover the product first, then hire your broader field teams.

All too often, sales and marketing groups go nuts with an influx of cash, and suddenly, it’s two years later, sales have plateaued (and not anywhere near the promised targets), the Board and investors are asking tough questions, and executives are throwing every solution they can at the issues their field is reporting in order to “turn it around.” Except it’s not real change.

Real change means you have the courage to revisit the root of the issues and diagnose the true problems, separate from the symptoms, appropriately.

Real change means you can explain why there needs to be a course correction, rather than recommending tactics to remove the symptoms (which will probably get your through the next quarter, but is unlikely to get you through the next year).

Real change means you can show how the current path may likely lead to more wasted cash and perhaps an eventual layoff, but refocusing funding to address root issues – even if it takes longer – will benefit the product and the company over the long term.

It’s not easy. After all, today’s businesses are conditioned to look at the next quarter, not the next 2 years. To have to tell investors that a course correction is necessary requires admitting that the first course was wrong. Yikes! Who wants to do that? (… can you hear that freight train whistling in the distance??)

I could go on to quote hordes of leadership advisers and gurus here, but I prefer to close these thoughts on real change with Coco Chanel: “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” Whether you make the change cold turkey or incrementally, I’d like to see more executives having the courage to enact real change in the first place!