What's an Executive Exchange?

Those of you who had a chance to read our latest QuickBytes may have noticed that we are going to introduce a new format for provider-industry partner dialogue at our Spring Forum, something we are calling Executive Exchanges.

Dialogue, problem-solving and the exchange of ideas is at the heart of SMI’s model. Our members value working together in groups and they enjoy these groups to be balanced between providers and industry partners. For many years, we used our luncheon discussion rounds to help us achieve this objective. This year, based on member feedback, we’d like to separate work and lunch. It’s time to enjoy lunch without trying to make a super inciteful point about the future of the industry with a mouthful of lettuce leaves. You’re welcome!

The Burning Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask    

The Executive Exchange format for our upcoming forum is simple but will require your input in advance. Initially, we had discussed breaking into six groups after lunch on Wednesday with each group assigned a separate topic to discuss, but until we can gather some meaningful data on the areas the community would like us to focus on, topic selection can feel similar to throwing darts at a dart board and hoping one hits a bullseye.

Instead we want to try a somewhat introductory activity as way to introduce this format to the community. Everyone one of us, whether a provider or an industry partner, must have some burning questions that we would like to ask the senior executives from our trading partners. For instance, “tell me about your compensation model. How are you incentivized?” This isn’t really a topic that folks may feel comfortable addressing in business review meetings or even during interpersonal networking. Even if you make clear you are not looking for hard figures, but the overall incentive model, it is a touchy subject.

However, if we all come with the expectation that the Executive Exchange is a way for us to ask hard, perhaps uncomfortable questions, then we have a better chance of breaking down some barriers, and may end up learning something about our trading partners that we always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

Choosing the questions

It probably doesn’t make much sense to expect members to go to one of these Executive Exchanges, think up some questions on the spot, and then assume a trading partner will have a ready-made answer. This wouldn’t work. Instead, we’d like you to use this survey link to write the 3 questions you would love to ask your trading partner. We will then collect all the questions, review, make sure none would run us into anti-trust trouble, select a set of questions for providers and a set for suppliers that best represent the scope of the SMI Community and then give them back to you so you can prep in advance of the forum.

Each group will have the same set of questions for consistency purposes and each group will have an assigned facilitator. However, there won’t be a lead provider or supplier expected to answer every question. Everyone in attendance should be ready to be called on to answer a question. Part of the facilitator’s role will be to call on folks if people are hesitant to answer.

By the end of this first Executive Exchange, we should have a stronger sense of what makes our trading partners tick, which should help us create further alignment across the value chain. As an outcome of this exercise, we may uncover areas that require additional discussion or even initiative work to begin to make a difference in the value chain.

So please, take the next 5 minutes and think up your best, most provocative questions that you have always wanted to ask your trading partner and enter them here.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

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