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The two-party system has been an entrenched feature of the U.S. electoral system since its inception. Is change even possible?
In the second episode of this special two-part discussion, business leader Katherine Gehl and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter discuss innovative reforms, like ranked-choice voting, that promote competition and accountability.
Later in the show, we talk with attorney and author Jeff Clements, of American Promise, about his efforts to reform campaign finance laws.
HBR Presents is a network of podcasts curated by HBR editors, bringing you the best business ideas from the leading minds in management. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Harvard Business Review or its affiliates.
Remote patient monitoring is a subset of telehealth that involves the collection, transmission, evaluation, and communication of patient health data from electronic devices. These devices include wearable sensors, implanted equipment, and handheld instruments. During the pandemic, such monitoring programs have proven valuable. But special measures and conditions made that possible. By encouraging regulators to make permanent the temporary measures introduced during the pandemic and by following six guidelines to integrate these programs into health care, providers realize their tremendous promise.
By making the collection of valuable patient data feasible outside of the clinic, remote monitoring can facilitate care for conditions ranging from chronic diseases to recovery from acute episodes of care. For years, it has been touted as one of the most promising opportunities for health care in the digital age. But the pandemic has underscored its value. Indeed, policy changes introduced during the pandemic due to the riskiness of in-person patient visits have created conditions ripe for its adoption. We urge regulators to extend these changes beyond the pandemic and for health care leaders to take advantage of this window of opportunity to develop, test, and improve remote-patient-monitoring programs.
What is remote patient monitoring? While “telehealth” broadly refers to all health care activities that are conducted through telecommunications technology, remote patient monitoring is a subset that involves the collection, transmission, evaluation, and communication of patient health data from electronic devices. These devices include wearable sensors, implanted equipment, and handheld instruments.
We define remote patient monitoring as the set of activities that meet four key criteria: (1) data on patients is collected remotely (e.g., in a home setting without oversight from a health care provider); (2) the data collected is transmitted to a health care provider in a different location; (3) the data is evaluated and care providers are notified, as needed; and (4) care providers communicate relevant data-driven insights and interventions to patients.
Remote Monitoring During the Pandemic
By making it possible to virtually perform medical activities that have traditionally been conducted in person, remote monitoring technologies have played a significant role in patient care during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, providers such as Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Providence St. Joseph Health in Renton, Washington, started programs during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to monitor vital sign and symptom data and assess the status of coronavirus patients. Other hospitals, such as Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, are working to set up remote patient monitoring programs for non-Covid-19 patients (e.g., as those with congestive heart failure).
New policies have recognized the importance of remote patient monitoring in this context. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expanded Medicare coverage for remote patient monitoring to include patients with acute conditions and new patients as well as existing patients. Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new policy allowing certain devices (FDA-approved non-invasive devices used to monitor vital signs) to be used in remote settings. Nonetheless, these changes remain temporary: They have only been authorized for the duration of the Covid-19 public health emergency. We hope that additional policies will be enacted to ensure that these programs can serve a variety of patients and conditions beyond the context of Covid-19.
Guidelines for Development and Implementation
These guidelines are drawn from our own experience managing remote-patient-monitoring programs, including one created specifically to care for Covid-19 patients, and research on the drivers of clinical success of established programs.
The technology must be easy for both patients and clinicians to adopt and continue using. It is essential to provide both patients and clinicians with intuitive equipment and user interfaces as well as resources for trouble-shooting when needed. Clinicians should be able to easily explain the equipment to patients, and it should be easy for patients to set up and use. The patient data generated by remote monitoring should also be simple to monitor and analyze.
This need is illustrated by a trial that studied remote monitoring of patients with congestive heart failure. In this trial, study physicians could not collect data for 12 out of 66 enrolled patients because these patients were unable to properly operate the mobile-phone-based monitoring device to begin data transmission.
The tools should be incorporated into clinician workflows. Given the high burden of administrative work that clinicians already face, it is imperative to introduce remote tools that blend seamlessly into their work processes. In some cases, this may require redesigning processes in order to ensure that remote monitoring is appropriately integrated into an organization’s practices.
For example, the administrators of a diabetes management program established at Massachusetts General Hospital found that they needed to modify the existing workflow for managing patients with diabetes in order to readily identify which patients required laboratory testing. Subsequently, the program built an application that remotely monitored diabetic patients and helped coordinate responsibilities for following up with patients about laboratory testing. This redesigned workflow improved efficiency by making it easier for nurse managers to remind patients about laboratory testing.
Sources of sustainable funding must be identified and tapped. This is especially critical at a time when hospitals are struggling financially due to the huge amount of revenue they have lost from pandemic-related cancellations and delays in performing surgeries and imaging.
Reimbursement for remote-patient-monitoring programs is challenging to navigate given that individual activities eligible for reimbursement — such as device set-up, patient education, interpretation of data, and follow-up patient conversations — are reimbursed separately. Nonetheless, reimbursement for such programs has improved with the advent of risk-based models of reimbursement such as Medicare Advantage plans and accountable care organizations, which offer providers increased flexibility in allocating capital to remote monitoring programs.
Many remote-patient-monitoring programs may have to rely on other sources of funding besides reimbursement, especially to fulfill upfront capital needs. In some instances, these sources of funding may be from the provider system’s operating budget. Internal innovation grants also may support programs. For instance, a diabetes remote monitoring program at Su Clinica Familiar, a federally qualified health center, was funded through a grant by the University of Texas System. Regardless of the nature of funding, we believe it is essential to identify a committed source of capital before establishing a remote-patient-monitoring program.
Dedicate sufficient non-physician staff to operate the program. A key reason this is necessary is that busy physicians will have difficulty carving out additional time to administer a program and sift through data. For example, Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans developed a digital hypertension program staffed by pharmacists, who monitored 6,000 high-risk patients’ blood pressure readings remotely and followed up with patients via text and email. This program resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of patients who met their blood pressure goals.
As demonstrated by this example, it’s critical that staff in these roles are matched with the nature of the work. For instance, the complex tasks involved in hypertension-medication management might require a pharmacist or nurse as opposed to a patient navigator without clinical expertise.
Focus on digital health equity. Patients may appear to be better candidates for remote monitoring if they are younger, technologically savvy, or are fluent English-speakers. However, access to technology may be limited by poverty, and numerous other socio-demographic factors may influence engagement and participation in remote monitoring programs. At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected minority populations, care providers should go the extra mile to ensure that underserved patients not only have access to programs, but are also provided education and support needed to make them successful .
Start with an initial pilot and expand after demonstrated successes. Even in a pandemic setting in which time is of the essence, it is essential to demonstrate that remote patient monitoring initiatives improve clinical outcomes. Not all programs have demonstrated success, so the use of pilots can help avoid expensive mistakes. One successful program that scaled gradually is the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s remote postpartum hypertension monitoring program. This program expanded from a small pilot to a larger clinical trial to the entire academic medical center based on evidence that it decreased admissions and costs associated with postpartum hypertension.
Covid-19 has created an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of remote patient monitoring as our health care system struggles to care for patients outside of the physical walls of a clinic or hospital. We encourage leaders to act decisively in establishing new programs by following best-in-class examples and guidelines. We believe that leaders who do so will spur a paradigm shift in how patient care is delivered that lasts far beyond the current crisis.
Many entrepreneurs have seized this moment as an opportunity to launch a social enterprise — businesses that have a dual mission of social impact and financial growth. But how can these entrepreneurs ensure that their short-term innovations can last as viable, long-term businesses? The author, a founder of a mission-driven company and a professor of social enterprise and global health at Emory University, offers four steps forward.
From the Atlanta high school student who started an organization delivering free meals to front line hospital workers, to a group of Colombian engineers building low-cost ventilators from scratch, innovators worldwide are creating novel solutions to the problems caused by the pandemic. And many are looking to turn their Covid-19 inspired innovations into sustainable businesses that will continue on past the immediate crisis.
As an entrepreneur who co-founded, built, and sold a mission-driven company, and a professor of social enterprise and global health at Emory University, I’d suggest that today’s Covid-19-inspired innovators take four key steps if they want to turn that project into a viable business for the long term.
1. Determine whether your innovation is addressing a long-term problem.
The best innovations are created in response to specific, urgent, and sizeable problems. In some ways, the Covid-19 crisis has made our most urgent problems and their potential solutions more obvious. For example: Health care providers needed masks; production facilities were idle; workers were furloughed and needed jobs. A social enterprise could address all three of these urgent problems simultaneously: Train workers to make masks in underused production facilities for health care providers.
But will this cluster of problems still need your solution three to five years from now?
Some coronavirus-inspired entrepreneurs are building on existing trends that have been amplified and accelerated by the pandemic, such as the explosive growth in telehealth, remote patient monitoring and the use of AI in health care. One MIT Covid-19 Challenge winner, for example, built a model to track the national distribution of critical medical supplies for hospitals in highest need. The efficient distribution of healthcare supplies is obviously an urgent problem today, but even beyond the current crisis, will be of value to healthcare systems that need to reduce waste and lower costs. On the other hand, some Covid-19 inspired organizations have been established in response to problems that are urgent and important today but are unlikely to be as critical once circumstances change. Free meal delivery services that were started to help health care workers may fall into this second category.
In order to determine whether your new product or service is addressing a long-term or short-term problem, I recommend that entrepreneurs start by looking to the past. Construct a market-opportunity analysis using data from 2019 and earlier. Was the problem you are addressing now a problem then? And, if so, how big was it? Next, list what specifically changed with the emergence of Covid-19 that created or amplified this problem and the need for your innovation.
For example, the need to care for patients from a distance, a problem solved by telehealth and remote-patient monitoring, certainly existed prior 2020. What changed with Covid-19 were the widespread stay-at-home orders, more widely available video and home-based technologies and, in the case of telehealth, changes in regulations and reimbursement, which, together, have led to a tremendous demand for these services.
2. Identify your long-term market.
The next step is projecting whether there will be a large, passionate market for your product or service in a post-Covid future. Research conducted by CB Insights prior to the pandemic found that a lack of market demand was the most common reason for failed startups’ demise, with 42% of companies citing it as a contributing cause.
I came close to becoming a member of the “failed-startup-founder club” myself 20 years ago when I relinquished tenure at a top university to co-found an early digital health company. Our mission was to build an online health resource for Latin America. Soon after we incorporated, however, we realized that there were only a couple million Spanish-speaking consumers online at the time — a market too small to build a viable business around. On top of that, we made another mistake common to rookie entrepreneurs: We were too focused on the technology, and not enough on the customer.
User-centered design has taught us that a key to building a lasting business is having a deep understanding of who your customers are and how your product or service fits into their world.
As a Covid-19 inspired entrepreneur, ask yourself two questions: Are you delivering an innovation that your customers are passionate about? And will there be a large enough number of these passionate customers to grow a business once coronavirus is under control?
3. Proactively pivot, if you need to.
If you determine that your current target market may not be large enough in a post-Covid future, you may need to pivot, like we did.
For the first five years of our company, we kept the lights on by selling translation and marketing services to U.S. hospital systems that served Hispanic patients, buying ourselves time until the market of Spanish-speakers passionate about health information eventually grew to half a billion people.
If it’s your turn for a strategic pivot, do whatever you can to pivot early, proactively, and thoughtfully. There are ample stories in the media these days of startups that are pivoting — but are doing so reactively in a frantic scramble for survival.
4. Map your business model.
Many of today’s Covid-19 inspired innovations are being given away for free, or are supported by donations, as is appropriate during an emergency. The leaders of these startups should be aware that contributions to non-profit organizations that are not Covid-19 centric are way down. Maintaining a donation-exclusive organization over the long-run in the face of today’s economic circumstances will likely be difficult.
Covid-19 inspired innovators should consider revenue models native to the field of social entrepreneurship. Social enterprises have a dual mission of social impact and financial growth and have developed an array of business models to achieve these parallel goals. For example, a Covid-19 inspired innovator in the U.K. is using the “buy one, give one” sales model to distribute the newly invented “hygienehook.”
Today’s entrepreneurs who are working on mapping their business model should also look to the past, when other economic disruptions similarly forced many companies to rethink their businesses. During the “great recession” of 2008, for example, Mark Johnson, Clayton Christensen, and Henning Kagermann presented a framework for reinventing your business model that is as relevant today as it was then. I suggest today’s entrepreneurs use this framework to define their company’s customer value proposition (CVP), profit formula, and the key resources and processes needed to deliver the offering as they navigate a future that is likely to demand novel solutions for some time to come.
The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly confirmed the maxim that crisis breeds innovation and opportunity. We have been reminded that WWII yielded the first programmable digital computers as well as unexpected discoveries like super glue. It is unclear at this time which of the tens of thousands of Covid-19 inspired entrepreneurs are creating products and services that will succeed in the long-term, but by going through these steps, more of today’s innovations will be the ones that people are using years and decades from now.
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Covid-19 has confronted businesses and employees with the acute challenges of remote work, underscoring the need to provide the right tools, planning, and support to ensure people stay healthy, connected, and productive. Managers are focused on working with employees to ensure the right infrastructure is in place, not just in technology but also in the way they set up expectations, processes, and priorities.
Of course, if remote workers lack the right tools or access to information, they’ll feel disconnected, disorganized, and disengaged. So it’s been vital to put in place the right tools, from computers, microphones, and cameras to the right software and apps. To create a productive ecosystem, employees also need easy access to group and shared drives and a plan for setting up team goals, deliverables, and timelines. Sharing schedules and documenting team members’ preferred working hours are also important.
But working from home is the new reality for many people. It’s not just equipment and process that are needed; employees are confronting new issues around feeling disconnected from the office while facing new pressures at home. So leaders need to think about new ways of helping workers manage expectations around both office and family.
This means managers must be realistic about the challenges. Working at home may mean more multitasking. Some employees may be less productive, so encourage employees to set achievable daily tasks and goals. If those go well, gradually make the goals more ambitious. Get employees to agree on workloads, projects, and priorities with their manager and communicate them to the team.
Keeping the whole team connected is crucial. Get the communication wrong and team collaboration grinds to a halt, customer focus could fail, and innovation could be stifled. So it’s important for each team member to be aware of others’ projects, timelines, and goals. Syncing responsibilities and deadlines with teammates helps manage projects, maximizes efficiency, and ensures that everyone’s work gets done. Online meetings should have clear goals, agendas, and outcomes, so send pre-reads sufficiently in advance.
Connectivity is only one solution for enabling remote working. Failure to provide remote workers with the right support can affect their motivation, productivity, and work-life balance. Isolation fatigue could easily set in, so encourage employees to think about these steps:
Set Expectations With the Family
Encourage employees to agree with partners and children about schedules, quiet spaces, homework time, and when it’s okay to interrupt. Make sure they take time to get fresh air or have some fun. It’s important to be flexible and to keep checking that these expectations work for everyone.
Set Boundaries With a Workspace
Urge employees to carve out a space, zone, or approach to work that’s separate from family members when they need privacy or are on a call. Wearing headphones or placing a sign on the back of their chair or monitor works as a clear signal to others.
Build a Routine, And Practice Good Self-Care
Encourage a routine that helps get work done efficiently and effectively. For some people, this means rebuilding their home office environment. For others, it’s about establishing a new routine. It’s important to set reasonable boundaries so workers don’t feel that they’re “always on” when working remotely. Breaks need to be prioritized to avoid burnout. And routines need to include staying connected with social communities, including business resource groups and work support groups on platforms like Workplace, Facebook, and Instagram.
Stick to Meeting Schedules
Working remotely doesn’t mean working reactively. Give employees the freedom to push back on last-minute conversations and spontaneous meetings—particularly those unrelated to their priorities.
Socialize With Colleagues
Isolation is a common problem for remote workers, so it’s more important than ever to come together. Try creating and participating in chat threads where team members can talk about common interests. Video calls are better to connect with colleagues, even just for an end-of-day watercooler chat. They also help introverts—who’d rather not socialize—periodically connect with team members.
Communicate with Clarity and Positivity
Working remotely makes it vital for communications, especially by email or chat, to be clear and positive, or they may be viewed as cold or indifferent. Happy emojis, fun photos, and generous compliments all are tools to maintain morale and build rapport.
Career development doesn’t stop, just because we’re working remotely. To retain and fully realize the brightest and the best — and to secure the current and future success of your organization — managers and executives must prioritize sponsorship. They need to figure out how to continue to invest in a small, diverse portfolio of high performers using virtual tools and tactics.
First, make the relationship reciprocal. Encourage your protégé to pitch in to ensure team success, and ask them to create an inventory of their assets. Next, demonstrate commitment to your protégé by talking them up and suggesting them for opportunities. Introduce them at the start of key projects and highlight their strengths. Finally, emphasize gravitas in one-on-one meetings. Look to remote coaches or have targeted coaching via video chat.
For the past three months, executives have scrambled to manage through the ongoing crisis. Many have found creative ways to lead teams and listen to clients and customers in a world where face-to-face contact is impossible.
Despite the transition to remote work and economic uncertainty, career development doesn’t stop. It’s important to meet the needs of top junior talent looking to ensure careers aren’t stalled. Remember that young stars are mobile — in 2002 and again in 2008, it was the top producers on Wall St. and on Main St. that were lured away by competitors eager to show them more “love” through leadership development opportunities as well as higher salaries. In sharp contrast, poor performers tended to stick around. They had nowhere else to go.
To retain and fully realize the brightest and the best — and to secure the current and future success of your organization — managers and executives must prioritize sponsorship. They need to figure out how to continue to invest in a small, diverse portfolio of high performers using virtual tools and tactics.
The value of winning a sponsor is well known: A junior manager with a sponsor is 21% more likely than a junior manager without a sponsor to progress to the next rung of the career ladder. The other side of the relationship is just as promising: A manager or executive with a protégé is 53% more likelythan a manager or executive without to progress to the next rung of the career ladder.
But the benefits aren’t just at the individual level. According to research by the Center of Talent Innovation, when at least a third of managers and executives proactively invest in a small portfolio of diverse protégés that include at least two individuals who are of a different identity — which happens in only 22% of companies — that company is 45% more likely to see improvement in market share and 70% more likely to capture a new market. This research traces the precise link between diversity and innovation and is a rich source for both data and case studies.
Whether you are an up-and-coming talent or an established leader, becoming a sponsor and having a protégé are great investments for individuals and companies, and these relationships can be built successfully, even in virtual working environments. Here’s how.
Make It Reciprocal
A protégé needs to give as well as get. This exchange of value and respect reflects the foundational premise of sponsorship. The biggest shift for a manager moving from being a mentor to being a sponsor is taking on board and actualizing this two-way street.
Sponsors value high performing junior talent who leave their ego at the door. In mid-2020 when so many business models are under stress, it’s particularly important for a protégé to pitch in and do whatever it takes to enable the team to hit a target or deadline. Putting up your hand to fix a tech snafu, or proactively reaching out via phone or Zoom to soothe a needy stakeholder, will improve your stock and standing.
A high-performing junior talent often has skillsets or life experiences that are not known to a sponsor. This is particularly true when the sponsor/protégé relationship crosses lines of gender, ethnicity, or any other line of difference. An efficient tactic here for a time-starved sponsor (and most managers are overloaded in these difficult times) is to ask your pick to create a one-page detailed inventory of their assets. This will allow you to better visualize the value being brought to the table. Ask your protégé to stress skillsets and experiences that are not currently on offer in the team, and make sure to include contacts and networks outside of work in the wider business world. This tactic is particularly helpful to sponsors who want to have a line of sight into potential of a junior talent of a different identity, someone who is not a “mini-me.” An inventory of assets often includes military service and not-for-profit leadership roles, as well as more predictable elements such as a language skill or global experience.
Sponsors demonstrate full commitment to a protégé when they “use up a chip” on behalf of the junior talent. Reach out to a senior colleague or an important client (via phone or Zoom), talk up the impressive skill sets of your protégé, then make a watertight case for why they should be considered for a specific big opportunity. Vigorous advocacy is made easier if you have an inventory of your protégé’s assets in hand.
Alternatively, identify a project that your protégé may not have been included in prior to remote work and invite them to participate. As the project kicks off, make sure to introduce your protégé with respect and enthusiasm (perhaps in the first conference call) lifting up key strengths and outlining the value add this bringing to bear. Again, having an inventory of your protégé’s assets at hand is enormously useful.
Emphasize Gravitas in One-on-one Meetings
No matter how high performing, most protégé need to grow their soft skills. Top of list is learning how to project gravitas — how does a junior talent convey that they know their stuff cold? Working from home precludes modeling leadership behavior in person, but sponsors are becoming inventive, leaning on external resources (a remote media coach can be a life saver for protégé facing a high stakes virtual presentation) and plunging in themselves with 30-minute targeted coaching via video chat. Over the last few months we’ve interviewed executives across a range of sectors, including finance, tech, and media, and found out what dimensions of the gravitas they zero in on most frequently in their virtual coaching sessions. Among the top traits are decisiveness, authenticity, confidence, likability, poise, grace under fire, and vision.
Of course, successful sponsors focus on tone as well as tactics when investing in protégés. Conveying respect for junior talent whatever their background or identity, demonstrating sensitivity, and communicating informed empathy are critical behaviors for any manager seeking to sponsor a portfolio of diverse talent because these behaviors engender trust — a foundation stone of reciprocal, fully aligned sponsorship relationships. These issues of tone and trust are particularly important in a time when the country faces mounting racial and equal opportunity challenges. Sponsors are well advised to put these values center stage.
Creating or continuing a trust-filled, mutually beneficial sponsorship relationship is difficult in a remote setting — but it is possible. A manager or executive needs to be much more self-conscious about how to celebrate a protégé, even as they engage more in a conference calls or virtual meetings, where face-to-face options aren’t available. One senior executive gave us this golden rule: “Place the word respect in the center of your brain, and the details of inclusive interaction in cyberspace will fall into line.”
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Your company’s board of directors is supposed to act as an agent to protect the interests of investors. Don’t let your ego get in the way of making sure you have a talented, independent board that will protect your shareholders, employees, and customers.
Here are five tests to tell whether your board is doing what it should.
1. Do directors have a financial incentive to think and act independently?
Does your board challenge your vision for the company and how you plan to achieve it? If you encourage such debate, your board is independent.
A corollary is how you compensate board members. If you pay board members nearly $600,000 a year to attend four board meetings, as Salesforce does, you risk getting board members who are too afraid to get kicked off the money train by asking challenging questions.
To counter this problem, pay directors solely in stock options. As Chris Lynch, an investor and CEO of AtScale, told me in a June 23 interview, “This is how I pay directors. It’s a lot more work for them than public boards because the only way to make the options worth anything is to grow the company and take it public.”
2. Are directors tracking whether your company is missing opportunity or failing to solve a looming problem?
If you have the right board, they ought to be focusing the company’s attention on its most important strategic issue. That could be the risk of missing a growth opportunity or the failure to address a threat to its survival.
As Harvard Business School associate professor Laura Huang told me in a June 17 interview, “Directors should start by deciding what problem the company needs to solve: opportunity gap — the company has an opportunity that it is not fully capturing — or problem gap — the company is facing a threat to its survival or market position and lacks an effective solution or has not executed it properly. Directors need to know where the company is now and where the industry is headed.”
If your directors are not pushing you in this way, change how you work with your board.
3. Are directors’ expectations of the CEO aligned with your company’s stage of scaling?
Depending on your company’s stage of growth, as I wrote in Scaling Your Startup, directors should assess different CEO skills.
Winning your first customers. Are you targeting the right customers? How quickly are you getting prospects to pay?
Sprinting to liquidity. How effectively are you adding first-class leadership in product, marketing, sales, and service? How quickly and efficiently are you growing to $100 million in revenue?
Running the marathon. Are you building public shareholder-worthy financial systems? Are you comfortable answering questions from public investors? Are you capturing new growth opportunities?
To be a marathoner — one who can scale through each stage — you need the right combination of traits. As Michael Greeley, general partner of Flare Capital Partners, told me in a July 1 interview, a marathoner “hears the voice of the customer — e.g., knows what the customer is looking for, has the technical skills to build the product, and is a pied piper who can [attract and motivate] talent.”
If you can’t make it through each stage, your directors could put you in a tight spot. That’s what happened to then-36-year-old Lynch six months before ArrowPoint Communications’ March 2000 IPO.
The company’s lead director, venture capitalist Paul Ferri, invited Lynch to breakfast and told him to recruit the more shareholder-friendly CEO Ferri had in mind. Lynch’s “ears were burning” but he did as Ferri directed. In May 2000, Cisco acquired ArrowPoint for $5.7 billion — turning Lynch’s 1.2 percent stake in ArrowPoint into some $68 million worth of Cisco stock.
4. Are directors developing CEO successors with the right strategic mindset before your company hits the wall?
Directors should encourage you to develop a successor as CEO. After all, at least half of company founders are no longer CEOs by the time their companies go public. Hire people who have succeeded in similar companies and put them in a position to take on greater responsibilities.
You should be developing internal successors — something that Walmart does well, according to Stanford Business School professor Charles A. O’Reilly III. As he told me in a June 19 interview, Succession 101 means boards should ask, “Does the [CEO candidate] have a good grasp on industry dynamics, think long-term, and … drive large-scale organizational change?”
If your directors are not pushing you to groom successors, your company could be caught flat-footed in a crisis.
5. Are directors monitoring the right weekly and monthly performance metrics?
If your board is working effectively, it will ask you to provide regular reports on how the company is doing.
Those metrics will vary depending on the company’s growth stage. For public or large private companies, it should be asking you to explain declining financial performance, new competitors successfully taking away market share, and new technologies that might alter the competitive landscape, says O’Reilly.
If you’re running a technology company that’s sprinting to liquidity, Lynch thinks directors should focus on “development productivity, employee recruitment and retention, gross margins, customer acquisition, annual recurring revenue, customer churn, and profit.”
To protect your company’s future, answer yes to these five questions.
Pride Month has officially come and gone. But I’ll admit, this one has felt very different.
I’ve lived in Northern California for years, a historic center of the nation’s LGBTQ+ community, and have marveled at the rainbows and parade floats that take over our streets each June. Every year, corporations big and small sign checks to support a cause, or to get their logo splashed across the front of a parade float as a sponsor. Those parades didn’t happen this year, but regardless, this kind of support is critical. Still, the LGBTQ+ business community needs more from allies.
Services are needed now more than ever in the time of Covid-19, and my company, Hello Alice, has been running a grant program that offers small-business owners an emergency $10,000, including for the LGBTQ+ community. Part of the application process involves talking about the needs of your business.
It’s crucial for business owners, including myself, to develop an understanding of this problem. Hello Alice has compiled anonymous owner data and released an Impact Report that lays out the demographics, demands, and necessary action items to make continued progress. We found that 5,000 LGBTQ+ founders across industries, 92 percent are asking for emergency grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. For more than a third of LGBTQ+ owners, this amount will determine whether or not their business survives the coronavirus crisis.
According to our partners at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), there are 1.4 million LGBTQ+ business owners in the United States, a group that collectively adds $1.7 trillion to the economy. We cannot afford to leave these businesses behind — but it will take targeted solutions.
As with many segments of the New Majority, LGBTQ+ owners face unique barriers that make it difficult or even impossible for them to access capital. For one, the U.S. Census does not count LGBTQ+ individuals, limiting the ability of government programs to target the community. There also remains a startling lack of legal protections if an owner wants to pursue a traditional lending route. Even today, there are more than 35 states where it is perfectly legal for a bank or credit union officer to say, “We do not loan money to your kind.”
I believe that business leaders should push legislators to change these unfair and unjust lending practices. Based on responses from our grant applicants, we must also demand immediate and sustained access to rent relief, tax deferrals, and tax waivers. But change takes time, and business owners need our help right now.
On an individual level, owners can pursue Certified LGBT Business Enterprise designation from NGLCC — the sole third-party that recognizes LGBTQ+ owners and maintains a robust supplier diversity initiative. Fellow business leaders must do their own part and make use of this registry to diversity their suppliers, as well as actively include the LGBTQ+ community in more professional networks and chambers of commerce.
Is the road ahead clear? Absolutely not. But with hard work and bold leadership, I think the result will be something we can all be truly proud of in partnership with our LGBTQ+ small business owners.
Every year (except this one), approximately 15,000 lucky cycling enthusiasts get to ride an actual Tour de France stage, on a closed course, during one of the race’s off-days.
Eight years ago, I planned to be one of them. With a couple months to go, I was deep into training for L’Etape du Tour (which included a climb up Col de la Madeleine) and my flights, accommodations, and event support were all booked.
Then I had a heart attack — and while I’ve recovered, it seemed like my L’Etape du Tour window had closed.
When the Tour de France was postponed until (hopefully) August, race organizer ASO and broadcast partners around the world teamed with the cycling and running app Zwift to create the Virtual Tour de France, a six-stage race that starts Saturday, July 4, and ends July 19.
Twenty-three men’s pro teams are entered, including superstars like Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal. The race will be broadcast in more than 130 countries and stream on Zwift and the Global Cycling Network app. And if that’s not enough, 17 women’s pro teams — including riders like Marianne Vos and 10-time world champion Chloe Dygert — are entered in the Virtual Tour de France: Same routes, same broadcast coverage, same everything.
Fans won’t be limited to just watching, though: They can participate in the Virtual L’Etape du Tour by riding/racing one of each weekend’s virtual courses, one that includes a ride up Mont Ventoux. (I’m planning to ride this Saturday’s stage at noon ET.)
“I’ve told many people that we would host the Tour de France one day,” says Zwift co-founder and CEO Eric Min. “I just didn’t expect it to be this year.”
Zwift’s response offers entrepreneurs of any stripe a lesson in seizing opportunities — and even harnessing chaos.
While many professional cyclists have used the Zwift platform for years, recent events drew basically every pro team to the platform.
This sparked requests for ways to activate sponsors as those teams search for ways to maintain and attract partners, sustain their (and the overall sport’s) business model, and evolve to meet the changing nature of fandom and participation.
“We had six weeks to pull this all together,” Min says. “We dropped everything. Hosting the one bike race that most people can identify, the one that matters the most–we’re so excited to be part of it.”
Development and implementation challenges aside, Min also received a fair amount of internal pushback. “Dropping everything” naturally meant putting other projects on hold.
“A number of people asked if this [the Virtual Tour de France] was the most important thing,” Min says. “My answer was simple: We get to be associated with an iconic event. To show the world we provide an alternative discipline that is super-accessible and authenticated by the best male and female pro riders in the world. To host an event broadcast into over 130 countries–how could we miss an opportunity like that?”
Even so, Zwift’s long-term growth will likely require attracting people who are unlikely to watch — much less ride — the Virtual Tour de France. That should mean providing more content. And, possibly, more quantification and gamification. Maybe music. Maybe instructor-led sessions. Maybe even turnkey hardware solutions.
In short, to hit the fitness startup trifecta: Provide an easily understood, easily purchased offering, anchored by a community, and, in the process, turn general fitness enthusiasts into loyal users.
The Virtual Tour de France could be a huge step in that direction, providing visibility, validation, and significant word-of-mouth.
And the chance for people like me to finally ride L’Etape du Tour, if only virtually.
Jonathan Levine, Founder and CEO, of Folia Materials, a green chemistry nano materials company will offer insights into how his company can produce solutions for both clean water and PPEs at our Summit. #nanotech #esg #greenchemistry