The target market of Aetna
In his speech, Ron William emphasizes that in the United States, healthcare services are provided to the citizens through their employers; this approach is very different from those of other countries. In the United States, employers have to contract with healthcare plans such as Aetna to deliver healthcare services. In turn, Aetna contracts with physicians, doctors, and hospitals, and other healthcare providers. Aetna’s purpose is to negotiate with the healthcare providers and arrange discounts for the employers and, this way, influence the availability of healthcare services for the population.
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This means that Aetna’s target market includes employers who provide cover healthcare services for the employees and the providers of healthcare services. Aetna’s target market also includes the healthcare systems of other countries and unique customers who purchase Aetna’s products. The positive aspect of Aetna’s target market definition is that it unites both the providers and the receivers of the healthcare services. At the same time, this approach creates more than one focus for the organization, which could cause conflicts within Aetna due to the different needs and interests of the two parties they target.
Financial performance of Aetna
Speaking about Aetna’s financial performance, Ron Williams compares the time when Aetna was among the lowest performers of the industry to a sinking ship. He mentions that when a ship is sinking, it becomes very clear what to do. By this comparison, Ron Williams means that when the company is at the very bottom of its industry, there is only one direction for it to move in – upwards. When the company is at the bottom – its goal is clear; its plan is simple. At the same time, when the company is doing well, there are so many options and directions for development that confusion is inevitable.
Managing a change
Ron Williams emphasizes that being able to manage change is vital for a professional in any field. Being able to manage change is having the needed flexibility to operate in the circumstances of rapid development. Managing change successfully includes responding to unexpected situations, facing challenges, quickly react to the shifting environments. These skills require a professional to constantly evolve and progress in order to be able to think and act properly according to the latest trends in their field. Ron’s statement is very relevant to the situation in my career field, where a constant change of the environments requires the workers and businesses to adjust and adopt innovations, and the ones that do it quicker will have more success. Change management is not a one-time activity. On the contrary, it is an ongoing process, and when it stops, the professional starts to lose its edge and become less successful.
The three pillars of the Three-I strategy of Aetna are information, innovation, and integration. This means that the company is to be able to accumulate and process the information it has, create innovative products, and then apply the obtained information and innovation to integrate them into their business process.
Integrated planning and forecasting model
Back in 2001, Aetna created an integrated planning and forecasting model that significantly enhanced the discipline in the business. With the help of this model, the company was able to close its books within six days, the same process used to take 28 days before.
Aetna’s way was developed in order to determine the company’s values and mission clearly and to identify what the company stands for. The circle of Aetna way consists of four elements and has people that use the company’s services in the middle. The four elements are integrity, employee engagement, excellence and accountability, quality service, and value. To compare this model to the one presented by Marilyn Carlson Nelson in her talk about Carlson Industries, one piece is different. Stewardship is not included in Aetna’s way.
Aetna’s employee survey
Every year Aetna’s managers conduct an employee survey. It contains about 70 questions and takes around 40 to 45 minutes to accomplish. The vast majority of the employees of Aetna (92%) are willing to share 45 minutes of their time to get through with the survey. The employees are so responsive to the survey because they are aware that its results will be taken very seriously by the company’s leaders. Such high participation rates surprised me. Typically, the employees do not take surveys seriously because they are convinced that those are meaningless procedures that would not make any impact.
The survey has two key questions. The first one concerns the employees’ supervisors and their behaviors corresponding with the values of the company. The second one inquires about the employees’ pride in working with Aetna. The survey between 2002 and 2008 shows rapid growth in both subjects. This signifies the improvement in the company’s culture and in the relationships between the employers and the employees.
Expectations of leaders and positive intent
The concept of positive intent, as described by Ron Williams, means that whatever one hears, they are to assume positive intent behind the words of the speaker. This reduces the tension and non-judgmental approach that minimizes the chance of conflicts.
Handling bad news
Aetna leaders created an organizational culture where bad news is delivered early and personally instead of being hidden or ignored. This approach helps the leaders to monitor the problems in the organization and address them in time. Besides, it builds an atmosphere of trust and honesty and helps the employees and their managers to work in balance. Knowing how many large corporations went bankrupt due to the disguised bad news and issues, one can see the use and meaning of this approach.
Having a core set of values, and following them is lesson one, it means that only when a company is true to its values, it is viewed as trustworthy by partners and clients. Lesson two is being willing to reinvent yourself, as this is a key to ongoing growth and evolution, which facilitates successful business. Lesson three is embracing diversity, as diversity encourages teamwork and a variety of perspectives, approaches, and opinions; a diverse team is more functional and has a high chance of earning success.
The fourth lesson is about knowing the difference between leading and managing. According to Ron Williams, a good leader is not only the provider of guidance but also a source of experience and knowledge. Sharing what they know with those willing to follow the same path is one of the primary roles of the leaders. This way, the leader is to mentor, develop talents in the followers, and improve the value of the team. In my career field, diversity is an important value that has to be emphasized by the managers as it leads to a better reputation and trust of the customers and partners.
Leaders are made, not born
A leader is to share their knowledge, strive to be better, add value, and maintain vigilance. In my career, leaders play an important role in preparing the next generation of people in charge. Since it is an ever-changing field, leaders, and to learn and improve all the time.