Navigating business in a crisis requires a systematic response that extends beyond the leadership capabilities of any individual or single organization. Leadership reactions can pull in different directions but always require planning and improvisation to succeed through and beyond an event. George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Anthony Luttenberger, is an executive with more than 25 years of commercial healthcare experience and a leader who we felt could share his perspective on how to succeed and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. What is your first priority in assessing your business’s ability to meet objectives?
In times of crisis, there are certainly competing priorities, but first and foremost is the health and safety of our people. Without our people heathy, safe and able to perform, we will never meet our objectives. The best executives always think about “who” first, then the “why,” “what” and “how” to meet and exceed objectives.
We define our people as are our employees, their families and our customers. Our people and employees, supported by their families, are on the front lines equipping all the people who support those treating patients. Right now, the industry is operating at record speed to develop innovative and creative solutions through high-quality research, diagnostics and treatments.
Staying focused on our people first and the customers’ experience, making sure we are equipping them to exceed their business initiatives, is paramount to making sure we meet our objectives.
2. How are you adapting your business practices to continue to meet or exceed goals?
There is nothing like a good crisis to “amplify” your current business practice and test your leadership, culture, operational structure and process. It will shine a spotlight on what is working and what is not working.
One key takeaway is to adapt your business practices to continue to meet or exceed goals is to listen to your customer-facing teams and customers and then swiftly act. I like to say, “If you don’t speak directly to your customer or heavily weight the advice of those who do, you are probably not making optimal decisions for your company.” Now is the time to stay ultra-close to your customers — be pro-active and over-communicate on a consistent interval with clear messages and direction to both your internal team and customers while keeping in mind this critical fact: Your customers are looking to us to help them through a crisis.
3. What programs or approaches are you taking to thrive in a climate of uncertainty?
In today’s environment you must be prepared and then remain flexible and willing to change as you adapt to thrive, not just survive, times of uncertainty.
One great discipline is preparation. I truly believe preparation is key, and contingency planning is a must. You must plan for the unexpected through good situational analysis. You cannot run a business effectively by being short-term focused. No matter what the crisis is, you must have a plan, you must anticipate movements and always be thinking 2, 3 and 4 steps ahead.
No matter how much you prepare, there are always things that happen or come up that you didn’t see coming — “There are always gremlins around the corner or hiding in the bushes.” The best approach is to remain flexible and willing to change and adapt.
Another approach is to empower your people with more authority (where possible and with a set of guidelines and parameters) to make decisions on-the-spot without the delay of managerial approval.
4. How have you planned to minimize the impact on your organization’s performance?
My goal is to stay ahead and offer innovative and creative solutions that meet our customers’ changing needs. To do this, we are reprioritizing therapies, changing product offerings, adding on, taking away, creating innovative and creative solutions and changing the way we communicate, while equipping our customers to stay on track with their business initiatives, timeframes and budgets.
As an executive leadership team, we are adjusting the budgets and reallocating the revenue where possible and managing senior leadership expectations with accurate and timely data.