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Steve Ambrose

Episode 11: Improving Your Tactical Planning Process, with Steve Ambrose

Steve is a well-seasoned healthcare polymath and team leader, specializing in business development, growth and marketing strategy, innovation, and client engagement. His interests are in population health, IoT, A.I., and health policy change.

He is connected with many leaders in companies ranging from health payers, hospital & health systems, pharmaceuticals, healthcare IT, and emerging technologies.

He spent 20 years caring for more than 9,000 individual patients. He transitioned into leading efforts in creating a unique & patented health payer / P&C cost containment solution.

Steve sold his busy healthcare practice and moved his family out to Manhattan Beach, CA to be with his sick father.

He transitioned into VP of Strategy for national leads acquisition company – with millions of customers in the financial space. He ran two divisions with strong execution with excellent team results.

Steve chose to step away (with recommendations) so he could focus on reviewing and selecting the right leadership opportunity for business development in healthcare. Now he consults with several private clients.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Steve’s background
  • Steve’s tactical planning process and system
  • How Starbucks has done tactical planning well
  • How Steve helps his clients come up with their plan
  • Recognizing that your customers may not want the same things you do
  • How technology will play a huge part in the next phase of healthcare
  • Why AI will start replacing human jobs — and why prices won’t go down with that
  • What Steve does differently for clients of that are startups vs major health systems
  • Constantly measuring results to keep track of goals for staying efficient
  • Why Steve is looking to work with bigger companies in the future

Ways to contact Steve:

Transcript:

Welcome to System Execution, the strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company, but here, we’ll solve your physical, technological and psychological systems issues by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their own business and providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results. Now, here’s your host Vera Fischer.

Vera: Welcome to System Execution, a podcast devoted to using processes and systems to drive to a better outcome for your business. I’m Vera Fischer, your host. All businesses, no matter the size, rely on systems. Some of these are physical system such as a factory, some are technological, like project management software, while others are psychological systems such as checklists and organizational charts. Many of these systems will overlap in your business. Today’s guest, Steve Ambrose is going to be talking about a system that has contributed to his success. Let me tell you a little bit about Steve, he has spent 20 years, caring for more than 9000 individual patients. He’s transitioned into leading efforts and creating a unique and patented health player. He’ll talk to you about that for sure. He sold a very busy healthcare practice. He moved to Manhattan Beach, California to be with his ailing father.

Other prominent points are transitioning into VP of strategy for a national leads acquisition company and finally and most of us can relate to this, he chose to step away with some recommendations, so that he could focus on reviewing and selecting the right leadership opportunity for business development and health care. Now, he’s consulting with several private clients. Welcome to System Execution Steve.

Steve: Hey Vera, great to be here. Thanks for having me and I’ve been looking forward to coming on your podcast.

Vera: Well Steve, thank you so much for being here and I really just touched a little bit on the great things that you have done, your background and what you’re going to be doing moving forward. Could you take a few minutes and just talk to our listeners about your expertise and what you’ve been doing for the past 20 years?

Steve: Sure, let’s start off with a story of a guy that was raised by a father who was a chiropractor. This was a very interesting time back in the early 70s and that was back in the time, where chiropractors really in many areas were either not well-known or they were poorly thought of. When you got into healthcare as a chiropractor, you had to do a couple things. First, you had to be good. You had to take care of your patients well and get good results. The other thing is you had to be good at engaging patients. That’s one of the things that I really pride myself on is not just with my career in chiropractic and in owning my practice, but more so today in the business of healthcare, where I do quite a bit of consulting in growth and execution, you’ve got to be able to engage customers, whether they be patients, whether they’re going to be straight healthcare consumers, perhaps other businesses that are going to consume your solution, you’ve got to know how to engage.

As you mentioned, I spent two decades caring for more than 9,000 patients. My practice would typically see between 50 and 60 patients today or I should say I would see that, so we stayed busy. A couple of years ago, I decided that because I had had probably my fill of chiropractic care and giving chiropractic care, I want to take care of my body a little bit while I was in my mid-40s. I decided I wanted to transition and I liked healthcare and healthcare technology quite a bit. With that I decided to sell the practice. I did come out to California, where I live in Manhattan Beach. I took on a roll in strategy for technology company outside of healthcare and that went very very well. We had millions of customers and I was able to lead some divisions within that organization to help grow. Then, I had jumped off that probably a few months ago and into full-time consulting for health payers, hospital and health systems and emerging technologies. There’s a lot going on in healthcare, particularly with the transition of value-based care and what is needed in terms of helping to make healthcare affordable. I feel as though with what I’m surrounding myself now with Vera in terms of clients and current interests and engagements that I’ll have a role to play in that.

Vera: You know Steve that’s really interesting about the value based healthcare because that’s something that’s near and dear to me in the sense of really understanding how as a nation and then also as a healthcare industry, how we’re going to pivot this giant ship over into this value based healthcare from an education perspective, delivery, fees, etc., etc. That’s one of the reasons that I was drawn to you as far as having you on the show. Let’s get started. I want to talk to you about a specific system or a process that you believe has really contributed to your success. Let’s hear what that’s about today.

Steve: Sure, why don’t we go ahead and for me, I would have to say it would be implementing a tactical planning process and that’s very important. I found that throughout my career it was very helpful more so today when I’m reaching out to and then they’re taking on clients that are either small, emerging tech companies or maybe even startup tech companies. One of the things that I find is there’s not enough tactical planning that’s going on. I’m sure most of your audience understands this, but just for those that may not, I look at it more as a tiered system, where first your company would have its vision statement, write its unique selling proposition, what does it want to accomplish. For Starbucks for example, its vision was to be the leader in the coffee industry and then underneath that they had a strategy for that. What was Starbucks strategy? It was to be the, “Third place,” apart from your work and apart from your home, where else could you go to relax, get work done and feel as though you could engage in activities and feel comfortable at the same time. That was their underlying strategy to make Starbuck your third place.

Then, how do they do that? Well, they did that through a tactical plan, where they establish goals and those goals would be to bring in furniture, to pump in the right music, to have Wi-Fi connectivity, to be able to train their staff to not only be engaging with customers, they have to educate their customers, to have high-quality products. They continually work towards positioning themselves as a leader in not just giving back to the community, but being trendsetters. All that being said, I like tactical planning. I don’t think there’s enough of it done and I think far too many companies that could be fantastic companies if they planned and executed tactically that’s where I like to step in and help.

Vera: That’s really cool. I’ve never heard Starbucks referred to in that way in the third place and you know what, they’ve achieved it because that is besides your office and your home that’s exactly what I go, it’s a third place.

Steve: Well, it’s very interesting. There’s a couple of ways to look at Starbucks, the first thing is you can look at and say, “Well, Starbucks gives back to so many places and so many people and they’re doing so much in the community.” Sure, their prices are really expensive, it’s $2 and whatever cents for a bottle Ethos Water, but I don’t think that really matters to customers. I think customers don’t look at it in that sort of way. I think they look at it like they’re willing to pay extra even if it’s their money going to these things because they feel as it’s not only a part of their life and it’s become a part of their life to be in Starbucks, to interact in Starbucks, but they feel as though that culturally they can bind themselves to something larger that perhaps by giving a little extra money and paying a little more, you’re getting the quality of the food and the service Vera, but you’re also a part of something bigger than yourself. Starbucks positions themselves and does that with their customers very well.

Vera: Steve what happens, if let’s say, let’s put your consultant hat on and you’ve got a company that wants to work with you or you want to work with them, what happens if they don’t have that strategy figured out? Do you help them with that?

Steve: Yeah, I do. One of the things that I like to do is many times and every day, I have customers or potential customers or clients reaching out to me, saying, “We’ve built a new product on the internet, we’ve built something new for healthcare, we’ve built something that’s going to change the world, take a look at it.” When I look at it, often what I see are separately cobbled together pieces of ideas and perhaps some software coding that’s put together and really the whole thing isn’t put together in a wonderful package. I heard it probably best years ago when I was watching the Cosby Show. You remember the Cosby Show? I’m sure …

Vera: Of course.

Steve: Well, there was an episode where Bill Cosby’s daughter was getting married and one of his younger daughters actually. When that was happening, she brought the fiancé to the house. They had dinner and the Cosbys, the mother and father didn’t know that this man was her fiancé. They thought she was just dating. She announced over dinner in front of them that essentially they were engaged and just dropped it sort of like a brick on her parents and sort of expecting she would surprise them and that we get them through the process of maybe liking this guy better. I remember that Bill Cosby, probably one of his finer moments Vera, he made an analogy to the boyfriend and he said, “Give me your idea of a best meal or what would you have?” The boyfriend said, “Man, I would I have a filet mignon.” He said, “Well then what would have?” He said, “Oh, I’d have asparagus, I’d have a salad and I finish it up with that or I’d have a class of red wine, nice red wine and perhaps a baked Alaska.”

Bill Cosby says, “Great, just imagine that meal’s coming to you and imagine when it’s served on you, it’s served on a dirty trash can lid. How tasty is it now?” That’s essentially what I see with a lot of clients or prospective clients coming to me, they have great ideas. They’ve got some neat things carved out and potentially some great value place, but they haven’t put all the pieces together because they haven’t completed the tactical planning process to support it. That’s where I like to come in, I like to dissect where they’re at to say, “Listen, are you underfunded at this point?” Do you have the right amount of funding, do you have the right amount of management on board? Where are you lacking in your expertise? Perhaps maybe on your IT teams, what do you need more of?” Those are the pieces I think that founders of companies and even starting teams don’t often look at because there’s a lot of conformational bias when they get excited and started.

I like to come in there and I like to be the person that sort of, can have a coming to Jesus meeting, but in a way that’s constructive and hopefully one that propels them to the next stage.

Vera: During this review period of the particular company that you’re working with, is there a step-by-step process that you take them through from a tactical perspective just to get a report card on where they are and how they’re faring thus far?

Steve: Yeah, I do. One of the areas I like to look at first is I like to review what sort of planning that they’ve put together. In other words, I’d like to ask them from the very beginning, “What were your plans, I’d like to see what you wrote down six months or a year ago as far as your plans move forward?” A lot of times, I’ll do this and what I’ll find is there weren’t any plans. Essentially, there was an idea and then they wanted to get some early funding and build it and that’s one of the areas we start from is if you don’t have proper planning from the get-go, you don’t have clear target and goals for those that go along with those targets, you’re going to find yourself going off the path. First is, did they have a plan to begin with?

The other is what sort of personnel do you have on your team? Is it a solo venture? Did you bring on team members and then if you did, how did you choose the team and why or if you went solo, why didn’t you think you needed a team, why did you think you could handle it all yourself? Then, we look into target markets, what’s your target market, what’s your competition? A lot of times when someone tells me, “Well, we really don’t have any competition.” I know they haven’t done their homework and that’s just a SWOT analysis 101. Then, we get into funding. I think the number one reason most startup and early companies fail is because not only poor planning to poor tactical planning, but also they’re underfunded. They thought they could get by on a shoestring and they thought the sales cycle for their customers will be a lot shorter and more people will be jumping on. That’s typically not the case.

Then, finally, I’ll get in and say, “What are your plans over the next 12 to 24 months in terms of what are your sales goals, what’s been realized so far and then come back to me and tell me with all that being said and done, why do you want me to come on, what are you looking for from me and for what I can bring?” To go from that point, really to make sure the very ending of all this is interview and these teed up questions to them and going through that there’s some realistic expectations on both sides. I’m not a miracle worker. I have a lot of connections. I like to think I have a lot of expertise when I dig into things granularly, but I want to make sure that certainly there’s an alignment and expectation that could be met on both sides.

Vera: So during this process Steve, you had mentioned earlier when you were telling our listeners a little bit more about yourself that one of you favorite things to do was really engaging, engaging with your patients and realizing that moving forward after you sold your business, now you’re in the position of being that consultant. I’m curious, how did you focus on this one particular area to provide to these companies because it’s obvious that you have such a breadth of experience to offer, but you’ve certainly narrowed it down. How did you get to that spot?

Steve: Well that’s a great question. I think that at the end of the day, there’s so much competition out there and there are some basic tenants of when people decide to make decisions. I think it’s important for companies no matter what new, special, unique, flashy product they have, to make sure they recognize that there are some core areas of engagement that if they don’t undertake, will ultimately break down the process of sales and marketing and connecting with customers, not just to get the sale, but then to grow and then to keep them as a customer. One of my beliefs is that and I had this conversation the other day actually with a health system that I was talking to about population health, population health now is a tremendous part of what’s going on with the movement towards value-based care. That is that not only do hospitals and health systems, Vera, have to eventually bring down their costs, but they’ve got to drive up their quality, they’ve got to go ahead and make sure that the results are better than ever and finally they have to get patients to be far more happier consumers for those health care services.

One of the questions I was asked is, “How do you see the right way to engage our community?” My answer is, you need to talk to them about financials and I had sort of a quirky pause in the phone conversation from the chief information officer, “What do you mean?”

I said, “What I mean is there’s a large part of this country that can’t afford healthcare that can’t afford medications, there’s a large part of this country that even if they have their healthcare paid for from work that their cost sharing and their deductibles and their co-pays are so high, they can’t save money anymore.” I said, “From the very beginning, it’s important when you engage these people in the community to recognize that if you want them to start wearing things on their body that will give you data and if you want them to start interacting with you, the fact that you have new technology and now according to the players out there, you as a hospital or a health system or a doctor have to use technology that doesn’t necessarily mean that your patients are going to want to use it. You need to be empathetic to them and you need to recognize from the get-go that their interests may not be aligned with yours. You may be wanting to change your system, get better outcomes. They may be saying, ‘How am I going to make the rent payment, how am I going to afford this medication you’re telling me to get on, how can I come in three times in the next three months to come in for care when I can barely afford my coverage?’”

I think engagement’s very important because ultimately, I think it sets the stage for how that communication is going to go initially and then when they become a customer. I think consumers are getting smarter and smarter. They know when they’re being engaged properly, ethically, I think whether there is true candor and true intent behind the engagement or whether they’re just being used as a trade-off for money. I think customers are a lot smarter today than they’ve ever been, so I think engaging people the right way and meeting them more than halfway in a way that’s going to make them feel as though that there’s caring that there’s empathy and that you want to solve a problem for them is absolutely necessary. I don’t think technology alone is going to do it anymore, especially with what’s going on in competition today in healthcare.

Vera: I totally agree with you and I know I’ve read the blog that you had written around this very subject. It’s interesting because I believe that we are going back to the era of just simple research, really understanding the community that you serve and doing real research to understand what is motivating them from an engagement perspective. It’s not a one-and-done scenario, it’s something that needs to be done on a regular basis and as humans, we’re very fickle. Our opinion a year ago is definitely not going to be our opinion a year later.

Steve: Right and let’s look at this from a monetary perspective if we could. The fact of the matter really is if you want to look at the numbers, we spend or our payers in this country, if you want to call them the health insurance companies out there, Medicaid, Medicare and some of the other government payers, put them all together and we’re looking at $3.5 trillion a year being spent on healthcare. Out of that amount, 86% of that is spent on chronic disease, so right off the bat, you’ve got great areas to tap into, but more than that what you need to tap into as I was telling this hospital executive the other day is, you must tap into all those people that are not coming to the hospital, that are waiting 20 to 25 years when they turn 50 years old and their first symptom is a shortness of breath. By the time they come in, they have three blocked arteries or they’ve been a smoker for 30 years and by the time they come in, they already have emphysema and that’s their first time to the doctor ever.

There are lots of people out there that are not coming into the hospital in your community you have to engage because in order to bring this chronic disease rate and payment rate down, you’ve got to engage people sooner and you’ve got to engage the people that are not coming into your hospitals and health systems now. That’s what you’re talking about when you’re talking about doing research on your community and I see hospitals and doctors have in the past done a very poor job of that because they’ve had so much demand coming into them, they haven’t needed to do that. Now, what’s going to happen is it’s a whole different ball of wax because you’re going to see when we switch from the fee-for-service to the value based system, you’re going to see the amount of reimbursement going down to hospitals and physicians. When that happens, they’re going to have to go ahead and make up that revenue somewhere and where they’re going to make it up, I think, is they’re going to make it up in two ways.

They’re going to bring in more volume of patients than they’ve ever had before by reaching out and connecting to people and engaging in more services than they have ever provided and then they’re going to need a way to do that efficiently and effectively, while also reducing their costs on their end to do that. That’s where I say technology being a tremendous part of the next phase in healthcare.

Vera: It’s all fascinating. I love this stuff Steve. Talk to me about the response you get from the folks that you’re saying that to because you’re probably telling them something they don’t hear.

Steve: Well, I can tell you I wrote an article recently on LinkedIn and so if you go on my LinkedIn profile and under my profile, you’ll see a picture of a woman’s eye with a zipper in front of it. I like to use unique images on my article. If you click on that you can read through that a bit and in that, one of the things I talk about is that everybody appears to be so afraid of artificial intelligence from the perspective of replacing human jobs. I make the point that in effect artificial intelligence really is going to replace human jobs and that there are companies out there now that are disingenuously not pushing that message forward, perhaps companies like IBM’s Watson, which help people and can work with people hand-in-hand with their AI, but I think we’re coming to a natural extension Vera, where in the 1980s, we brought in technology to make people far more productive in their jobs. We’ve done that. It’s just now if you look at the latest statistics and the studies on productivity in the last three to four years, our productivity has absolutely plummeted.

In other words, we’ve taken the human worker and we have pushed them and given them technology to make them as productive as possible. Now, we’re simply at a stage where because of the cost of human capital of keeping people employed, of lawsuits, of benefits, of high salaries, of health care, of sickness, of personality conflicts, of human-based mistakes and human errors, we’re at a point in healthcare, where the smart CIOs and the smart chief medical information officers are going to start understanding that if we can go ahead and over time, start working to replace our human people with systems that are smart, predictable, more accurate and can deliver and help to deliver a safer experience, then we’re going to need to do that as a part of bringing down our costs because one of the things that you’re not hearing from anybody and I would challenge your listeners and I challenge lots of people to look in the reading and everywhere you see, health systems and doctors and hospitals have to reduce costs. We have to reduce costs. We have to bring down costs. You never ever ever hear anybody talking about reducing pricing for consumers along with that. Nobody ever says that. The reason is is because there is a fundamental underlying understanding in our health system and I don’t want to go too far off target here, but look businesses have one purpose and that’s to make profit.

I mean employing people is nice and giving valued services is wonderful, it’s all part of it, but the real reason a business exists is to make money. That’s the purpose. I’m not talking about nonprofit businesses, I’m talking about for-profit business. At the end of the day, the majority of companies that make up our healthcare ecosystem are for-profit companies, many of them publicly owned. We can’t mistake the fact that drug companies, hospitals, health systems, medical device companies, emerging technology companies have to make a regular quarterly profit or they lose their shareholders. They have to be in business. The only way that’s going to happen and to still bring down pricing to affordability is you’ve got to cut your costs. The number one cost in almost every business I know of, including healthcare, is human capital. When I talk about AI and I talk about in this article, the importance of replacing people, I realize there’s going to be lots of jobs lost, but unfortunately we’ve come to a point where if you want to continue to have the system work positively, we have to recognize that it has grown so large and people have been so heavily paid to be positive that something has to give here.

I think in time, you’re going to see the smart health systems Vera and the smart hospitals start to quietly work towards this and then to be able to translate it into lower pricing that if you come to our hospital, we can actually give you hip surgery for 20% less than all the other hospitals and still give you a better experience and we’re even safer. I just think that’s a natural extension of business.

Vera: How long do you think it’s going to take before we get there?

Steve: Well, I think what we’re going to see first is we’re going to see facets of artificial intelligence come in as what we call augmented intelligence, where you’re not replacing people with computers, but what you’re doing is you’re having computers interweave themselves into the process. There’s lots of companies out there now that are doing this. IBM’s Watson is one. You’re seeing lots of companies on the mobile health side now, where they can actually have people at home, wearing devices that will send patient generated healthcare data into hospitals and health systems. That’s going to help too because the more data you can keep on patients and the more you can act upon that data with predictive analytics and then execution appropriately to better reach out, manage people, the more you’re able to bring down costs, whether that’s lowering drug costs, whether that’s reducing hospital readmissions. It’s all been a benefit, but I think in time what’s going to wind up happening is we’re going to see that come to a sort of a point, there’ll be standardization probably within the next three to seven years with augmented intelligence and in other words, everybody will be using it.

There’ll be parity because there’ll have to be parity in order to stay in the industry and stay competitive and then you’re going to see the next leg up, where you’re going to see those hospitals and health systems look at their operations from the top down, including management and managing not just interactions with patients and data with patients, but also how do you manage your system, do you need as many people to manage a health system or a hospital or to create a drug? How can you shorten the drug creation process, so that instead of taking so many years, at $2.2 billion average, we can bring that down to 33% of the time, maybe at $500 million. That can translate in a lower pricing for consumers and still keep the profit margins, where they were before, if not better. That’s the sort of thing that’s going to happen. Probably, I see in the next 5 to 10 years, you’re going to see that switch going on because I think it’s going to have to go on.

Vera: From a tactical planning process perspective when you are visiting these companies and within that context that you’ve just gone through, do you spend an extraordinary amount of time educating your clients on how this process works, this tactical planning that you take them through?

Steve: It depends who they are. If we’re talking about a startup company that is coming out with a new technology and they don’t have the right infrastructure or planning in place, then I’m spending a lot more time on the tactical planning. If I have a health system or a hospital that is looking to perhaps bring in AI and optimize a lot of their processes, then they know a lot of what I’m talking about. It really is just a matter of maybe having some diversity of thought and then eventually having them make decisions on which triggers they’re going to pull and what those timelines are. It really depends on the client and the maturity of the client’s management perhaps.

Vera: Here’s the next thing your clients are probably asking you is after the tactical planning, what about implementation?

Steve: Yeah that’s the thing. You know what, really with improving your tactical planning process, the way I look at that is if you look at a chair and you say the chair is, let’s say, the chair is your strategy for what you want to count as your ultimate vision. Then, the legs on that chair really are the tactical planning goals. In other words, how do we make that strategy happen and how do we make it go, well this is a tactical planning and within that tactical planning, these are the smaller goals that have to be executed upon in order for us to build the chair we want to build. I think yes, the execution is key and it’s not just execution alone, it’s execution within timelines, within budget and making sure that the results are constantly being measured. That doesn’t mean to say that we over measure things or we have too many meetings, but we want to make sure that we are efficient as well as diligent in executing the goals.

Vera: Let me ask you this Steve, whenever you’re working with a client and you’ve put that tactical planning process in place, how do you measure the success of this and if it simply could be that your client is in alignment with what you’re saying and you’ve got them on the next go forward strategy, if you will, how do you measure that?

Steve: Well, I would say and most of my clients now are smaller clients, so one of the things we try to do is we stay very close on communication. Most of the time, we’re talking about goals like, I’ll give you a for instance, I have a company now that I’m consulting with that is creating a wonderful new platform for what’s called inbound medical tourism. For the uninitiated, everybody understands medical tourism, where you go to India because you can get gallbladder surgery for one-fifth the price you can in America with pretty much the same quality of care. As people are paying more out of their own pockets on top of insurance, it makes a big difference. It’s worth the trip, but there are nearly 1 million people internationally that come to America every year and they have deep pockets. These are people that will spend $100,000 or more to get top-level surgery with the top doctors in this country. With that said, this entrepreneur that I have reached out and connected with and has brought me on as a consultant, he and I have regular meetings about what it’s going to take to actually have all the moving pieces of this process connect.

It’s more than just building a website and making some connections with health systems and then delivering them international patients. It really is a matter too of putting in additional pieces and I can’t go through all of them here because I’m under NDA, but I’ll say that when we do execute, one of the things we try to do is stay close in our communication, I think transparency is extremely important and then we don’t have a software system per say that we check into other than we have a spreadsheet. We check into that spreadsheet. We keep it on Google Drive and then as our goals are met and the sub-goals that support those goals, we go through a check by check system. We visit that quite regularly. I suppose the long answer to your short question Vera would be for most of my clients, which are smaller base now, I do use Google Drive and we do you shared spreadsheets. For those goals and for the sub-goals to those, we do have those listed out along with date expectations and did we do it on budget. That plus good transparency and communication has been very very effective.

Vera: It always comes down to communication and clarity in my experience as well as I can see from yours. I’m definitely seeing a common thread around Google Drive and the sharing of those types of documents. I don’t know how we did it before Google Drive to tell you the truth.

Steve: Exactly and that’s one of the reasons I named my consulting company Clarity. My consulting company is just one word, Clarity and so no website as of right now. People reach me through LinkedIn and through other means, through other clients I have that make recommendations, but I like that term. I like your take on it. I completely concur.

Vera: Steve, I love all the information you’ve given us on tactical planning, it’s getting the actual idea off that whiteboard as people do attempt to do that and I think we’ve been in this little generation of people, who want to throw processes and systems out the window because they’re rebels. I think people are coming around, realizing that oh wait, we really need those in order to make something happen.

Steve: Oh yeah, I have a client of mine, right now one of my clients who built a product and he did that by outsourcing. I have to say that in retrospect, looking back, there were some really good decisions that he made and there were some other decisions that because of tactical planning, he could’ve made a lot better, it would have been a lot faster and a lot cheaper. I think you’re absolutely right with that and too many times, people come out of the gate with great ideas, they convince other people on a seed level to fund them, but they don’t make good use of the funding or as good of use as they could because there isn’t a tactical planning process in place beforehand and things don’t go. They don’t just fall into place as expected. I think that’s very important. You’ve got to have the tactical planning and you got to have some flexibility, but there should be clear expectations and deliverables and ways to track that. I think it’s very important not to over manage, but you can’t go through this process, especially with the competition that’s out there in all different verticals. You can’t go through this without a plan and without strategic tactical measures as a part of that.

Vera: You’re right and the other thing that I would add onto that I think and you know this, as a part of that tactical planning is planning for everything that could possibly go wrong and having a fix for, just in case.

Steve: Yeah, exactly. It’s very interesting, one of the things is when you talk about insurance, the insurance industry and I have some connection with that industry, both on the health side and a little bit on the property and casualty side, but when you look at insurance, it’s all predicated around fear. You get insurance because of something that could happen, but like or hate insurance companies, fair or unfair, they serve a purpose. I think things do happen and on a smaller end, you can’t just go through and believe nothing is going to happen, but on the other hand, insurance alone isn’t going to cover it. It’s almost like the way I look at is with proper tactical planning, you’re setting lots of little insurance policies all along the way and I like to feel as though that just good risk management on top of just good planning.

Vera: That’s great. That’s great feedback and insight. Love everything you’ve provided around the tactical planning system, it’s been super informative, but as we’re wrapping up our talk today, what’s up for you, what’s your next challenge within your business or within the vision that you have, helping clients that you’re engaged with?

Steve: Well, I think one of the things I’d like to do is my plate is full in terms of the smaller companies that I’m consulting with, so I think right now what I’m reaching out to and what I’m looking to do is to engage with bigger players in healthcare, whether they be health systems or whether they be perhaps more medium to large-sized technology companies Vera that are looking to perhaps do a better job of what they’re doing, maybe bring some more transformative or disruptive innovation to their existing product lines. That excites me too. This is such a fun time to be alive and even though, there’s a lot going on in healthcare, which is negative now, a lot of times when you have so much going on negative, it opens up new opportunities that you just never imagined could be there. For me, I think opening up to larger clients is key. I think the other thing too is making sure those existing clients I have are rolling out into the market with something that is truly valuable for customers and game-changing. It’s exciting time, I’m looking forward to the next several years.

Vera: It will be very interesting to see how all that shakes out for sure.

Steve: Yes, yes, agreed.

Vera: Steve, you’ve shown us that processes are really needed to get the work done and you’ve absolutely provided our listeners with some of those nuances with your tactical planning process and system. Before we go, want to close out today’s discussion with any final advice you’ll share and then please tell our listeners the best way that they can connect with you?

Steve: Well, if I had to give maybe one piece of advice because everybody can give advice on everything, I would say, please if you are a small startup or emerging company, don’t get lulled into conformational bias, don’t get lulled into thinking that your way is the only way and because you love it so much and you’re married to it and it excites you that you may not be heading in a direction that is not the best direction, so diversity, get advice and don’t be afraid to challenge your own biases. That’s very very important. For larger companies, I would say, don’t be afraid, especially larger healthcare companies, don’t be afraid to be different, don’t be afraid to try new things, even if they’re transformative. I wrote an article on this in LinkedIn as well, if you go back, called The Transitions Plan. It’s a controversial article. I would invite listeners to read that but it’s just one of several different things I think that we’re going to have to start looking at. For larger companies, be daring and be daring to transform because people like that. They like to be challenged. At the end of the day, I think that it’s going to help larger companies carve out a better market share.

As far as reaching me, the best way to reach me is through my email, which is steveambroseucla@gmail.com. Also, I love to connect with people on LinkedIn. As far as reaching with me, you can just find me under Steve Ambrose in LinkedIn. Other than that I’m on Skype at steveambroseucla@gmail.com as well.

Vera: Well, great, thank you so much Steve. System Execution fans, no matter how many notes you took or how often you re-listen to this episode, the key is you must know that every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome. Steve, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and insight to our listeners today.

Steve: Vera, thanks for having me. I enjoyed it very much.

We hope you found this episode of System Execution enlightening. For free examples, case studies, e-books and more, be sure to visit systemexecution.com/resources. Contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on email at vera@systemexecution.com. Until our next episode, thank you for the privilege of your time.

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