Sometimes we get it wrong. Einstein did not invent the theory of relativity; it was Galileo. We do not have five senses; we have nine. And the business competitive spirit is not lost; it’s trying to reignite. Business leaders know they need to rethink competition – in the March issue of Harvard Business Review, Editor-in-chief, Adi Ignatius, and Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, posed a difficult question, “has the United States lost its competitive edge?” While I’m not convinced that we have lost our competitive edge, I will submit that it does originate with competitive leaders and that is where we are in short supply. Think about the 2012 Right Management survey, where the top concern of companies is the lack of high-potential leaders within an organization. In light of the market changes, how do emerging leaders instill the qualities of competitive advantage throughout a company?
For those holding on to traces of skepticism let me share that competitive leaders in healthcare do exist and they are driving their own trajectory with vision, innovation and competitive advantage. Innovation performance expert Drew Marshall and I had the privilege of interviewing the respected CEO of Teladoc, Jason Gorevic, who embraces the new reality of retaining top talent and thrives on the business imperative of innovating for current customers. Gorevic is a refreshingly present CEO, who understands why Teladoc is in business and confidently manages the competitive edge of his company.
Gorevics company, Teladoc was founded in 2002 and is the first and largest telehealth provider in the nation that provides 24/7 access to U.S. board-certified doctors and pediatricians via phone or online video consultation. Teladoc leverages change with the interplay of the market and his culture, for example, he redefined the remote telehealth model to systematically scale the innovative potential to address the challenges of access, volume and reimbursement. This past February, Gorevic successfully launched TeladocConnect which provides a physician’s office the ability to always be available for their patients “whether it’s the physician themselves – we give them the first opportunity to respond to their patients needs or our network of physicians who are always there as sort of a safety net for any time if that physician is not available.” Gorevic plans to continue differentiating Teladoc by not taking a breather with this latest launch, “today, we really focus on primary care, so we work with internists and family practitioners, pediatricians and emergency physicians. We’re looking at extending into some other specialties – I think dermatology and behavioral health are two examples of services that would work well.”
The creative edge that Gorevic is creating, is not a result of marketing savvy, but true leadership capability; identifying opportunities for competitive advantage, leveraging a top notch team, and understanding the innovation process. Like most big thinkers, Gorevic weaved his blue print for creating a competitive advantage throughout the interview:
1. Keep big ideas focused and manageable. “It’s easy to get spread too thin and try to tackle too many things at once…”
2. Create a culture of innovation. Look for potential leaders who have ambitions for “creating things and making an impact, intellectual curiosity, integrity, and a commitment to excellence -one requirement for my management team is that they act like adults.”
3. Stay in touch with the market. “…lose sight of the outside market and it’s hard to innovate – I’m a huge fan of process design, process engineering and efficiency.”
4. Create a product road map. Clearly, they have been able to implement their big ideas. They have a well-developed product road map including a mobile strategy. “It goes out probably two years with specifications, then it’s more of a strategic framework.”
During the radio call in time, VioSearch executive recruiter, Dennis Salinas called in asking Gorevic what was the most important aspect of retaining top performers in order for a company to remain innovative and competitive. From Gorevics perspective, “generally companies focus on the knowledge and skills component and frequently they forget about the cultural component and we spend as much time as we can on a cultural component because the cultural aspect of the on boarding process really is a determinant of how quickly they become a part of the fabric of the organization. He added that “the people who are most loyal are the people who are continually challenged, engaged and feeling successful about the work that they are doing…” Gorevic also has a deep understanding of payment models as he shifted gears to answer questions from Boulder physician innovator, Dr. Virginia Gurley on aligning incentives, “there is a lack of payment for outcomes. There is too much payment for activity and services, which really is the wrong set of incentives… So we put parts of our fees at risk specifically focused on outcomes and results and you know I think that’s generally that we will see – the market move in that direction…”
Time went by fast with this interview and throughout, I was continually reminded of the Bill Gates quote, “bringing together the right information with the right people will dramatically improve a company’s ability to develop and act on strategic business opportunities.” Gorevic is it getting right – but, I don’t have to tell him that, he’s a leader; he already knows.