An interview with Mario Castañeda and Rick Brutti on The Innovation District, Mind Your Own Business for Entrepreneurs, UR Business Network.
Imagine being a player, coach or employee of the Los Angeles Clippers these last few months. Everyone associated with the team felt not only a lack of leadership and uncertainty about their futures, but shame and humiliation.
How do you survive something like that?
I think we can garner 3 lessons out of that extreme case of an organization in flux.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
Doc Rivers, the LA Clippers coach: “My focus is completely on trying to figure out a way of eliminating the distractions. . . . This is a situation where we’re trying to go after something very important for us. . . . It does [have an impact], but you’ve got to move on. . . . That’s adversity that we didn’t want, but we have it, we’ll have to deal with it.”
To counter discouragement and even despair and keep their people moving forward productively, Alcoholics Anonymous has long urged its members to focus on what they can control and let go of what they cannot.
To use another sports metaphor, star baseball players say that when their offense is in a slump, they need to stay focused on playing good defense, keep at it on offense and wait for a better day to click in.
ANGER – NOT RESENTMENT
Doc Rivers again: the team “was pissed.” “This is not anything anybody wants to go through, and this is never good for anyone. . . . They’ll grow from it and they’ll be better people because of it.”
Referring to plans to run an off-ramp of an interstate highway through a low-income Latino neighborhood, a good friend of mine, many years ago, emphasized the importance of making a distinction between “being pissed” and getting resentful. Anger is a natural reaction to a threat. Resentment is settling into a life-negating spiral of outrage that ends up corroding yourself.
“Anger is not one thing. It is many things, loosely organized by language into a whole. It is . . . not the feeling of anger per se that has caused harm. Rather, the cold soup of enacted or contemplated self-righteousness or the hot energy of attacking others can easily lead to actions with negative consequences. But these need not be the core features of anger.” (1)
REMEMBER WHAT YOU LOVE
“When the [NBA] commissioner [Adam Silver] put this to me [becoming emergency interim chief executive of the Clippers], I said, ‘Hey, I love basketball,’ ” Richard Parsons said. “I don’t like basketball. I love basketball. It represents all the best in teams sports, and character building and it’s fun. I love basketball. I always have.”
The atmosphere may be foul, the future gloomy, prospects fading by the hour. But if I can dig down into what I truly like and enjoy about my work – not necessarily my job, but my work – then that may see me through some very difficult times and may become what transforms raw talent into polished skill, like tempered steel.
I know this is hard to do, a lot harder than fancy words make it seem. But if you walk into a factory, an office or a home where worry and uneasiness seem to rule, isn’t it the one bright, smiling, centered person there whom you will remember when you leave? Stay focused on what you love, and that energy may make you special.
And that is the part of all this about “flourishing.” Human nature seems to have this propensity for getting sucked into the “Sturm und Drang” all around us. Those who rise above that will stand out for their resilience and will find value either in the new organization or the next organization.
(1) ACT On Life Not On Anger, George H Eifert, Ph.D.; Matthew McKay, Ph.D.; and John P. Forsyth, Ph.D. 2006: New Harbinger Publications.
Payments / reimbursement under the Affordable Care Act . . .
Purchasing consortia for hospitals and other health care providers . . .
Lower profit margins than in the previous decade . . .
An uncertain future in both FDA and foreign regulations . . .
Minimal venture capital interest in this industry . . .
How will medical device leaders choose which research directions to follow,
which product lines to invest in?
The 1990s and 2000s are rather widely acknowledged to have been the heyday of finance.
Milton Friedman’s philosophy that increasing the financial wealth of shareholders was the sole justifiable principle for a corporation now governed all economic policy, seeped even into U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
The compensation of investment bankers was (and remains) the envy of all. The free-wheeling lifestyle, “masters of the universe” power, invulnerable occupational security and exciting posture on the forefront of cutting edge economic growth left many in awe and envy. Finance came to dominate all discussions of industrial and economic policy. There was practically no sector untouched by the growth of the financial industry – none that exceeded its enormous growth.
Then came the crash(es) of the last 15 years, and the vulnerability of our bets on the financial industry as the leader of growth was exposed. Losses were great – and left bare how much of the “growth” had been paper growth, not raw development.
This may be the time to capitalize on products and service as our key economic benchmark. This may be an opportunity to seize an advantage in the effectiveness, the documented outcomes of fewer, but better, products and services.
Yes, it is difficult, risky and expensive to demonstrate effectiveness of medical devices, biologics and drugs. There are likely to be fewer (financial) winners, and the rewards may be smaller (on paper; quarterly) than in the previous decade; so, indeed, there may be fewer entrants into the race.
On the other hand, might we recapture an earlier (really, not that long ago) criterion of success: building a firm with lasting power, grounded in the security of demonstrated effectiveness, successful outcomes that could be counted on by health care providers for years to come? They are often the ones who persevere. They are the heroes, not only of the industry, but of the economy.
Let’s think of “economic” over “finance.” Etymologically, “economy” means management of the household. “Finance” comes from a French origin meaning “payment/ending of a debt.” Economic policy – managing the good of our national well-being – should be the overriding category and priority, with financial success a subset – not the other way around. In that world medical devices companies can flourish. That is the opportunity we now have.