The problems we face in healthcare today cannot be changed with technology alone. It is the people behind the scenes, who are dedicated to advancing and pushing for change, that will make a real positive impact. This week we spoke with one of our Founder Associates, Ferdinand Gottwald. Read now his thoughts on how organizations can strategically position themselves in competitive markets.
Q: Why did you decide to join Orbit?
I have had a strong interest in both the healthcare sector and AI for quite some time and was fascinated by the idea that you could help people on a large scale live better lives simply by processing data and training models in the right way. This intersection between artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital healthcare was very appealing to me. After getting to know the co-founders Patty and Franz, their enthusiasm and their vision, it was an easy decision for me.
Q: What is something you think people would be surprised to learn about Parkinson’s or chronic diseases in general?
I think most people would be surprised to learn about the development of typical Parkinson’s disease symptoms and the subsequent diagnosis process. It often takes years and/or potentially decades of the disease’s onset before it is noticed and fully diagnosed. This means a person suffering from Parkinson’s may go through a long degenerative process before s/he can truly understand what is happening. This fact is extremely sad, and something I believe with the use of digital biomarkers, we can one day overcome.
Q: What makes you excited to come to work everyday?
There are two reasons for me:
- The fact that we are working on something that can actively improve the lives of thousands of patients. So each success, be it on an individual level or a team effort, brings us closer to actually helping people. Knowing that we are all working together towards something that is meaningful excites me.
- It may sound a bit cheesy, but it is simply the people. Ever since my first contact with Orbit, I’ve only had pleasant experiences and a feeling of mutual support and appreciation across the entire team.
Q: What is an ideal strategic position for any organization? What is important to consider for companies that evaluate their own strategic position?
An ideal strategic position is a well-balanced alignment of a) market demand and growth with b) a white space in the competitive environment that can be met with c) the value an organization can offer.
In newer markets with a lot of movement, the competitive environment is often not as clear and is typically still forming. In more static environments with oligopolies, the two typical ways to achieve a competitive advantage are 1) differentiation (e.g. through higher quality products), which can then justify a higher price, or 2) cost leadership, which companies can use to balance an attractive price with acceptable quality. A classic strategic mistake is being caught in the middle of this spectrum and trying to do all things at once — this is the so-called “kiss of death”.
When evaluating their strategic position, companies should first and foremost be honest to themselves and try to eliminate any individual biases they have towards the market, competitors, and their own organization. Often, there can be a mismatch between an organization’s self-image and the perception from the market. If this is the case, the question is whether it is primarily a bias from the company or if the communication towards the market is not clear.
Q: What are some processes a startup should think about implementing to ensure efficiency and team effectiveness?
One of the advantages a start-up has compared to a larger company is that it is process-light and can therefore move very quickly. However, being process-light can also mean that it is chaotic. A proven way to ensure that most tasks are aligned with the overall strategy and direction without giving too many boundaries by processes is to establish working with OKRs. If done well, this typically allows relative freedom from smaller processes as well as the flexibility to pivot quickly without losing touch with the company’s big picture goals and the general direction.
Now for the really tough questions
Q: What is the one thing you can’t live without and why?
There are several things that come to mind and it’s a close call for me, but I would have to go with music. I have always loved playing and listening to music and definitely couldn’t live without it. Music is closely followed by sports and being out in nature — preferably a combination of the two (like hiking).
Q: What is something you spend too much money on but don’t regret?
Definitely traveling. In my typical daily life, I don’t spend too much money on most things. However, when I’m traveling to a certain place or region I want to experience it as fully as possible and not miss out on any adventures (i.e. once-in-a-lifetime activities, local food or important sights). This tends to go hand in hand with spending more money, but I never regret making these experiences.
Meet the Orbiters is a series dedicated to highlighting Orbit team members. To learn why they joined Orbit, what they think is unique about the culture, and some fun facts along the way.