Why business leaders must lead change – Part 1


Each year, Corcentric holds its annual Symposium, which gives customers, Corcentric professionals, and top suppliers the opportunity to come together for two days to hear compelling and inspirational speakers from a wide variety of disciplines. The ultimate goal of the Symposium is to encourage attendees to be open to new perspectives, consider alternative ways of thinking about how business is conducted; and discover new ways to improve their businesses, as well as own lives and those of their employees.

Every Symposium also has a theme…this year’s theme was Leading Change.

Leadership has never been more necessary

Change is inevitable; along with change can come great challenges, something we are now all experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic. How we respond to this challenge will affect what our businesses will look like when this situation finally resolves. Business leaders are the ones tasked with facing this and many other challenges, so our Symposium theme this year could not have been more relevant.

Our keynote speaker, Jim Collins, is the author of many books, including the best-selling Good to Great, which details why some companies can transition from being good companies to great companies while most businesses fail at this effort. As Jim noted, leaders play a key role in going from good to great, but not in the way many people would think. Great leaders are not necessarily charismatic nor do they need to have some sparkling personality. Quite the opposite. Good-to-great leaders are humble and that humility enables them to put themselves into service to something that is bigger than themselves. The goal of a good-to-great leader is to “build something great, but not for my own aggrandizement.” Good-to-great leaders also know how to recognize the right people for the right position and how to support those people.

Jim’s philosophy is one that has been at the core of Corcentric’s mission since our founding. We know that we are our people; that is why we value our employees so highly. We wouldn’t be where we are without their hard work and dedication.

Innovation is as inevitable as change. Embrace it.

The Symposium featured speakers addressing a wide variety of topics including economics, cybersecurity, procurement practices and sports (we were fortunate to have Nick Foles, former Philadelphia Eagles QB and 2018 Super Bowl MVP). However, the topic that dominated was innovation and how to approach it. No company is immune from the need to innovate, nor should it be…but innovation is taking place everywhere, according to a number of speakers.

Dr. Daniel Kraft, founder and chair of Exponential Medicine talked about a sea change in medicine that will hopefully transform what is currently “sickcare” into “wellcare.” Sickcare is reactive; more than 80 percent of healthcare costs are related to people who are already sick. Although those costs can and do bankrupt patients, they also have an effect on the businesses that these sick individuals work for. Sickcare costs everyone…wellcare will cut costs for everyone. According to Dr. Kraft, change is happening and will continue to do so:

  • Greater access – Mobile devices and the internet will let those who live in rural and remote areas have access to medical information and practitioners. (This is occurring but on a limited basis)
  • Earlier diagnosis – Diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s will be diagnosed long before symptoms appear, enabling patients to adopt healthier practices and doctors to begin preventative treatments.
  • IoT advances – Wearables now allow people to monitor their own health to an extent (think Apple Watch). This will only increase over time as the IoT continues to progress.
  • Virtual training – Augmented and virtual reality in clinical settings will help guide doctors through procedures and can be used for training purposes.
  • Patient as COO of their own health – Ultimately, more control than ever will be in patients’ hands, and that, along with an increase in reliable data, will hopefully create a healthier population.

Josh Linkner, five-time tech entrepreneur discussed how to harness innovation in order to turn raw ideas into powerful results. Having a systematic process in place so companies can focus their team’s creativity into practical outputs is essential. He offered practical tools that leaders can use immediately to increase creative output that delivers bottom line results:

  • Find a way – People tend to think innovators are smarter than the rest of us. They are not…they are just resilient and resolute. When innovators see a barrier, they don’t stop until they find a way to solve it. They never give up.
  • Upgrade it – If there’s one thing innovators don’t like, it’s the status quo. They feel that in order to stay relevant, it is necessary to start over.
  • Defy traditions – Most people overestimate the risk of trying something new and underestimate the risk of standing still. (Just think Blockbuster vs. Netflix to see the results of innovating vs sticking to the status quo).
  • Seek the unexpected – IIt is the disruptors, those who think differently from the rest of us, and act on their thinking, who stand out. That is true in all fields from science to the arts to business. When most executives look to make changes, they give themselves a limited number of known options. Innovators create new options to try.
  • Bounce back – There is one thing that scares most of us that doesn’t scare innovators: failure. They know they are not always going to get things right, but instead of turning back to the status quo, they double down. It is a combination of persistence and creativity.

This year’s Symposium gave all of us a great deal of food for thought as we face unprecedented changes and challenges. Innovation may likely be the key to success and survival, and leaders who see the value of innovation are the ones who will take us to the next level. They are the ones who are “leading change.”