Strategy in the New Healthcare Era
Episode 534

David Espindola, Founding Partner at Intercepting Horizons

Strategy in the New Healthcare Era

In this episode, we feature David Espindola, a founding partner at Intercepting Horizons. David discusses how his company is teaching companies how to position themselves to mitigate risks and leverage opportunities resulting from exponential changes. He shares his insights on lateral thinking, adjusting as a business in a fast-changing world, and more. Tune in and find out how you can improve business models and increase outcomes!

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Strategy in the New Healthcare Era

Episode 534

About David Espindola

David is a founding partner of Intercepting Horizons. He also co-founded iLumina Tech, a digital technology and training solutions that improve performance, increase sales, collaborate, and engage clients anytime and anywhere in a mobile world.

David is a member of the Advisory Board at the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute (TLI), has served as a member of the IT Advisory Board at Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit organization, and a former Chief Information Officer of Flexera Software.

Before Flexera, David served as Director at Zebra Technologies, a leader in tracking technologies and solutions that allow companies to obtain unprecedented visibility in their business.

He also worked as a consulting leader at Oracle and held leadership roles at two fast-growing tech startups in Silicon Valley.

David holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of North Dakota and an MBA from the American University.  He has also completed The Innovative Technology Leader Executive Education at Stanford University.

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Strategy in the New Healthcare Era with David Espindola, Founding Partner at Intercepting Horizons was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket. Saul Marquez is here, and today I had the privilege of hosting David Espindola. He’s a founding partner of Intercepting Horizons, a strategic advisory services firm that prepares clients to intercept strategic trends and converging technology vectors impacting their organization’s future. He’s also a member of the advisory board at the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute. As a former CIO, David has developed and implemented global technology strategies to drive business growth and has been a part of the leadership team that delivered a business transformation program, resulting in five X revenue growth to more than four billion dollars previously. As a consulting leader, he managed large and complex engagements at strategic accounts and sold several million dollars in software services. Before that, David held leadership roles at two fast growing startups in Silicon Valley. One spun off into a successful business still operating today. The other grew five acts during his tenure, reaching over 400 million in revenues, resulting in a successful IPO. As we turned the corner on Colvard and deal with some of the challenges that our businesses are faced with, we have to be thinking about what the future looks like and what our plans to make sure we capitalize on on that successfully is. And that’s what David is here to talk about, how he and his firm Intercepting Horizons is helping customers maximize their future potential with amazing technologies and strategy. So, David, such a pleasure to have you here with us.

David Espindola:
Thank you, Saul. I appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation with you.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely. And you guys focus across many different sectors, not just health care, but health care is one of those areas where where you guys find a great opportunity to deliver value to to those leading within within the space. Tell us a little bit about your health care practice and what inspires your work there.

David Espindola:
Yeah, absolutely. So like you said, I work across a variety of industries, but health care is perhaps one of the most important industry with big challenges. And, you know, that in and of itself is is exciting to us. So to give you some background. I spent about three years working at GE Health Care as a consultant, and I gained a significant amount of background and understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the industry. Back then, I was focused on addressing the issue of siloed processes and systems that prevent you from being able to, say, a 360 degree view of the customer. But I believe that problem is still pervasive in the industry today. And that’s why you’re seeing companies, information companies like Apple and Google entering healthcare.

Saul Marquez:
But it’s definitely an opportunity to get better at increasing efficiencies Right.. I mean, where we’re stowed data heavy now. And and, you know what we do with that to automate to to do things virtually. These are all things that we have to consider or what what makes what you guys do. I guess how are you guys offering value in the health care ecosystem?

David Espindola:
Yeah, absolutely. So let me tell you a little bit about a couple of things. First of all, I’d like to mention here in Minneapolis where I live, and this is a hub for medical device companies, but also for food and technology. So we’re putting together a consortium of industry, government and academia to leverage the opportunity to combine Minnesota’s thought leadership in these three areas to what we call a global wellness center. So anyone that may be interested in that can get a hold of me. So in terms of, you know, what we do and the problems that we’re trying to address with health care. Let me start by saying that, you know, as we all know, health care is broken and really needs a new way of thinking to achieve innovative breakthroughs. So I’ll give you just a little story to illustrate, you know, some of the problems we’re seeing in the industry. So my boss was traveling in Colorado and she had to go to an urgent care facility there. When she came back home, she had to send them her insurance information, but the only possible way that they would receive this information was through a fax. Now, you are a young guy. Do you even know what a fax machine is?

Saul Marquez:
So it’s pretty insane, right?

David Espindola:
Yeah. You know, most young people don’t even know what it is. I mean, this is outdated. Nineteen eighties technology that’s been abandoned for for a long time. And, you know, in some of the facilities in healthcare, that’s the only way you can communicate with them. So, you know, it’s a problem that the.

Saul Marquez:
It drives me crazy, it drives me crazy and some. And you know what? Sometimes I find like finance is kind of a little bit of that, especially when you’re kind of doing money transfers, which I get, right.. I mean, but it just it’s it shouldn’t be that way, it should be easier.

David Espindola:
And then if you look at the cost. Right. So let me give you another perspective. If you look at the price changes in the US for consumer goods and services in the last 20 years. You’ll see that, you know, things like household energy, housing, transportation and food. They’ve increased at about 50 percent at about the rate of inflation. But then you have other items like clothing and cars that have basically stayed flat in the same timeframe. And then you find other products like software and toys and TV shows where the prices have actually decreased down dramatically in these last 20 years. But when you look at health care and education, these two items, you know, their prices have more than doubled in this time period and increasing at a rate that’s much higher than inflation, which is simply not sustainable. Another data point is, you know, in twenty seventeen, the US spend three point five trillion dollars in health care, which represents about 18 percent of our GDP, and that’s twice the average of developed countries. And unfortunately, we haven’t seen the return of that investment yet.

Saul Marquez:
It’s a it’s a big issue. And, you know, you mentioned education as well. And, you know, that’s another one that we we have challenges with that on the cost front, you know, bankrupting people on both sides. You know, not not given a fair start for for young people getting into the workforce, walking in with, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Sometimes the big issues. So you guys do a nice job of of having that big picture. Tell us a little bit more about what makes you guys different, better in offering your clients advice and maybe some examples about how you’ve been able to to improve business models or outcomes with with some of your clients.

David Espindola:
Absolutely. So I absolutely agree with you. Education is another area that really needs to be rethought. And I think, you know, if you look at what’s happening with covid-19, this has been a catalyst for a lot of changes that were way overdue. So, you know, we’re living in what we call the exponential era. This is a time in which changes are happening at unprecedented speeds. So despite of all the negative consequences of covered 19, one positive outcome has been the fact that it has really helped us realize how quickly things can change and how many organizations are totally unprepared to deal with these changes. It’s really been a wakeup call that has forced a lot of companies to migrate to a digital model. As a matter of survival. So, you know, the exponential changes that we’re seeing from covid-19 were caused by a black swan Right. unexpected event. But we should prepare ourselves for additional changes that will come at incredible speeds due to the explanation nature of technologies that are converging. So what we have done is we have developed a methodology called SPX that helps companies apply a new mindset to strategic planning in times of very fast changes. And this is something that healthcare could definitely use to help it get out of its current unsustainable path. So if you think about the way many companies in healthcare and other industries deal with strategic planning today, a lot of companies are still doing five year strategic plans. But in an era where industries are being disrupted in a matter of months, you can’t possibly plan five years in advance. You can certainly set a long term vision for the company. But the actual planning process, the decisions that you make about what initiatives to launch, what initiatives to terminate. That needs to be done on a iterative basis in a closed loop process that is continuously receiving new information and considering that information. So unfortunately, you know, in healthcare, in many cases, we’re still operating with an outdated command and control simplistic approach to solve very complex problems. We’re entrenched in this traditional set of management principles. That are based on thinking terms of static, isolated mechanical systems, what’s known as reductionism. But the real world is it’s very complex and outcomes are not necessarily predictable. So what we need to do is we need to adopt systems thinking and then the exponential era where, you know, these changes are happening very, very fast. We need to be able to solve what we call wicked problems. These are the type of problems that are very complex, very ambiguous, and for which there are no prescribed solutions. So the only way to do that effectively is to apply lateral thinking and convergence to research. So this is a processing which you find innovative solutions that are not necessarily in your domain. But in order to do that, you know, it really requires leadership that is connected to the edges of the organization to learn what signals are being sent through the ages and then recruit lateral thinkers, people that can actually connect the dots across domains.

Saul Marquez:
I like that, I like that word lateral thinkers, because typically you’ve got vertical thinkers, Right. you’re thinking within the silo of the organization.

David Espindola:
That’s correct. Yeah. But there’s vertical thinking works very well for solving very specialized, very prescriptive types of problems. But when you’re dealing with these wicked problems, you know, the ones that are ambiguous, complex, there’s just no real right or wrong answer. You really need lateral thinkers that can go across domains and really pool solutions from different places and put them together in a unique way. And that’s part of what we talk about as part of our methodology. So, you know, in SPX, which is the methodology that we developed, we’re teaching companies how to position themselves to be able to mitigate risk and also leverage opportunities that are resulting from those exponential change that we are currently experiencing. In fact, we have a book coming out in October where we discussed is in detail. But in essence, what SPX does is it helps companies identify and monitor horizons, which are, you know, the changes that are happening very fast. We teach them how to generate new insights through experimentation. And then develop a what we call a risk opportunity capabilities map, which allows them to then make strategic decisions about where to invest the resources.

Saul Marquez:
Makes sense. Makes a lot of sense. And remind me, what is the SPX stand for again?

David Espindola:
It’s strategic planning in the exponential era?

Saul Marquez:
Got it. Got it. Very cool. Very cool. You know, it’s something for all of us to think about where we’re faced with challenges today. And we were faced with challenges before. You know, there’s there’s no. The only change that’s happened is Covid it’s been a big change. But what are we doing to think laterally and and how are we planning strategically something that that we need to be considering as we as we look to make changes in our businesses that will that will really help us adapt to what’s going on. Give us some examples, David, of what you guys have done with clients and some results that have yielded.

David Espindola:
Yeah. So I’ll give you some examples of problems that we have seen. So, you know, the biggest challenge here is that change is very hard. Right. And many companies are simply not able to do it unless there is some additional some some significant change that that turns that company around. And what we have learned in our experience working with medical science is that effective change really needs to come from the top. This requires change in the culture of the company, which is very difficult to do. So I’ll give you a perfect example. If you look at Microsoft, Microsoft missed the most important technology changes at the beginning of the century. So they missed mobile. They missed social. They missed cloud. I mean, this is a company that was just about to go into oblivion. Right. And they realized that and they made a change at the CEO level. And when Satya Nadella came in, one of his key priorities was to change the culture of the company. And he has done a tremendous job at Microsoft. And so today, Microsoft is back to be one of the most valuable companies in the world. So you need you know, in order to effectively make change, you need leadership. You need the changes that come from the top. But you also need a methodology, right? You need to have a way to do this that most companies just are not able to do it on their own. So it’s it’s helpful to have somebody from the outside that can give them a step by step process that they can follow.

Saul Marquez:
And that’s that’s great. It’s a great example of Microsoft. We don’t we don’t have to do it ourselves, folks. You know, there’s there’s an opportunity to to team up with companies like like David’s to make an impact on these challenge areas that oftentimes we’re too too much in the trenches and we can’t see beyond what’s close by because of all the fires and urgencies. Having somebody to help us look at our business, our customers, the market with perspective is hugely valuable. And I’m a firm believer that the best in the world at what they do, they hire coaches and hire experts and they and they realize that. And if you look around you that those that are the best in their craft have coaches, they have teams like consulting companies to help them get there. What would you say has been one of the biggest setbacks for you guys, David? And now what was a key learning from that setback?

David Espindola:
So I would say again that the key setback is the challenge of making companies change. We can’t do it for them. We can. We can give them the playbook. We can tell them here’s here’s a process that you can follow. But it has to come from within. And that is challenging to do. To be frank. And so, you know, sometimes it’s frustrating because we don’t see the changes that we’d like to see. And a lot of times is because the leadership is still practicing, you know, 20th century thinking. Sometimes we have organizations that we deal with that are based on 19th century management structures that will not survive in this current environment. So that’s that’s the biggest challenges is how do you make people think, you know, in modern terms, in terms of very agile, in an environment that is very volatile, uncertain. A lot of complexity and ambiguity. Right. I think you’ve all heard of Voca. That’s the world that we live in today. If you’re not prepared to deal with that, unfortunately, it’s it’s gonna be a hard road ahead for sure.

Saul Marquez:
And what what what excites you most today, David?

David Espindola:
So I’m very excited about the future. I think we will experience some difficulties in adapting to a fast changing world. But I believe the end result will be very positive. So let’s, you know, look at healthcare, for example, that can go advances that we’re seeing in healthcare. Just unbelievable. In the book, we talk about several megatrends. And one of them is longer and healthier life. So if you look at life expectancy, for example, you know, we didn’t break the 40s until the end of the 19th century. But since then, we’ve doubled our life expectancy. And so all of us today can expect to live in through our 80s and according to Ray Kurzweil, we will soon achieve what he calls the longevity escape velocity, which basically means that every year we’re going to be gaining more than a year in life expectancy. So if you think about that, you know, that means that we’re all going to live for a very long time. But it’s not just the quantity of life that’s improving. It’s also the quality of life. But if you look at technologies like crispier, you know, the gene editing technology, stem cell therapy, you know, these new advances are opening the doors for potentially treating thousands of diseases. And that’s very exciting. If you look at telemedicine that’s already here today and with the help of A.I., we’ll be able to get much more accurate diagnosis without ever having to step into a doctor’s office, right., which is just phenomenal. So I think, you know, in summary, I think the future of healthcare technology is very, very promising. But we do need to work, you know, the management, the policies and the social economic issues of health care that, as we know, are currently broken in our country.

Saul Marquez:
For sure. Yeah. And on these are these are some great technologies to consider and a great opportunity to reflect on our own businesses and organizations. David, what what book would you recommend to to the listeners?

David Espindola:
So there’s one book that I have read recently called Range by David Epstein. It’s a phenomenal book. David goes into detail about lateral thinking. He talks a lot about the fact that the generalists are going to be very, very important in our future. You know, we went from a period of time when people were craftsmen. You know, we used to be generalists. And then with the industrial revolution, we started specializing. And I think there is a movement now where specialization is going to be done by machines. Right. So we’re going to have AI doing the specialized knowledge work. And what we need is we need humans with human capabilities that are able to connect the dots, are able to think laterally that they’re able to do some of the things that machines are not capable of doing, at least yet. So David does a great job describing that in range.

Saul Marquez:
Awesome book and a great recommendation, folks. We want to see a full transcript of our discussion with David, links to the book, links to their company, Intercepting Horizons, go to Outcomestocket.health and in the search bar, type in intersecting horizons. And you’ll be able to find all that there. David, before we conclude. I’d love if you could just share a closing thought. And then the best place for the listeners get in touch with you to continue the conversation.

David Espindola:
Absolutely. So I’ll leave you with a quote from Eisenhower. Plans are useless, but planning is everything. I think that is very applicable today to the strategic planning processes that are required in the exponential era. So your listeners can find me at interceptinghorizons.com. My email is david.espindola@interceptinghorizons.com. We also have a conference coming up, hopefully in October. You know, it depends on what happens to Covid but the conference is called the Contex Conference, which stands for Converging Technologies and the Exponential Era. And you can find more information at contexconference.com.

Saul Marquez:
Awesome, David. Thank you for that invitation. And folks will leave a link to the conference that David and his team are putting together to explore this lateral thinking methodology and thinking through the various exponential technologies that could help your business. So, David, I just want to thank you again for spending time with us and looking forward to staying in touch.

David Espindola:
Thank you, Saul. I appreciate the opportunity.

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Things You’llYou’ll Learn:
–> How to adjust to exponential changes
–> How to prepare for changes
–> The need for lateral thinking
–> How to mitigate risks and leverage opportunities

References:
https://www.interceptinghorizons.com/

contexconference.com