How the pandemic has changed Stryker's operations, culture: 8 observations from CEO Kevin Lobo

Laura Dyrda -   Print  | Email

Stryker CEO Kevin Lobo said the pandemic accelerated innovation with virtual conferencing and connections during The Constellation Forum on Aug. 6, and he plans to lean into these trends as well as the company's social responsibility in the future.

The Constellation Forum is hosted by New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health and included speakers from across the healthcare spectrum. Here are eight takeaways from the interview with Mr. Lobo.

1. During the pandemic, Mr. Lobo said Stryker's executives had to take a more empathetic approach to leadership and spend more time listening and communicating than in the past. He sent out the constant reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel during these challenging times.

2. The company conducted global calls every two weeks when the pandemic began; the calls now occur once per month and feature hospitals, administrators and surgeons sharing their experiences from the front lines.

3. Although the pandemic meant sales were down 24 percent during the pandemic, the company was also able to innovate. Stryker launched four products that it wouldn't otherwise have developed during the pandemic, including an emergency relief bed, which it was able to develop in 10 days. The bed received the FDA's emergency use authorization.

4. Prior to the pandemic, Mr. Lobo joined other business leaders to sign a new proposed definition of corporations, which considers broader stakeholders than just shareholders under the corporation's responsibility. The company has re-focused efforts to take a stance on social issues and more actively engage employees.

5. Millennials want to know where companies stand on moral issues, especially in light of the racial injustices in the U.S. Mr. Lobo said Stryker had "days of understanding" where people came together to talk about racial issues and gaps within the company. He said the conversations were enlightening for leadership and Mr. Lobo foresees employees wanting to know more about racial diversity statistics within the workplace in the future.

6. Stryker has a diversity and inclusion program and training built around the idea of accepting the bias in a person's first thought, but then stepping back and taking responsibility for the second thought and first action to address a situation. The process was designed as a grassroots effort in one branch of the company and has been popular as it scaled through the rest of the company.

7. Stryker transitioned a large portion of its workforce remote during the pandemic and conducted a tremendous amount of training virtually. He sees virtual training continuing to be part of the company's strategy moving forward.

8. Mr. Lobo said meetings over video calls equalized participation and allowed for all voices to be heard. He observed that some people who had been quiet during in-person meetings were more outspoken on video and he plans to have more video meetings in the future. The company also has flexible work arrangements that will continue for the foreseeable future.

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