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Digital Medtech Has a Humility Deficit

A medtech thought leader says too many digitally focused medical device companies lack the humility to build critical partner relationships. Do you agree?

Amanda Pedersen

November 21, 2023

2 Min Read
Image of a man holding a lightbulb, with the quote "We are more what we do not know than that which we do know," by Joe Mullings of The Mullings Group
Image credit: champpixs / iStock via Getty Images [modified by MD+DI]

Joe Mullings, CEO at The Mullings Group, shared an interesting thought Tuesday via LinkedIn about humility and collaboration in digital medtech.

In the post, Mullings describes a hypothetical scenario he calls the "three VP problem." This is where the hypothetical company's first VP says, "We can do it, we do not need an outside partner." After the first VP fails, the company brings in a second VP who eventually concedes that the company should collaborate with an outside partner. Finally, a third VP is hired to manage the relationship with the external partner, helping the company to leverage that partner's deep expertise and experience that was needed in the first place.

"CEOs and board members, and all of us, should know that we are more of what we do not know than that which we do know," Mullings wrote, a point that seems to have resonated with several of his LinkedIn followers.

It's unclear where the problem stems from, but Mullings' ultimate message is straight forward: When you are building a connectivity and cloud based digital solution, get a partner(s).


"For some reason, too many of the digitally oriented companies and their leadership lack the humility, or perhaps the longer vision and unforeseen consequences, [needed for] developing the critical partnering relationships that will get them to market quicker, better, more efficiently, and with a better solution," Mullings wrote.

The post has spurred an insightful conversation among Mullings' LinkedIn network.

"This is spot on," commented Jack Germanson, who was VP of field operations at Avail Medsystems, the telepresence company that abruptly shut down earlier this month. "I think it is also important to find and vet the right partner. In addition to deep expertise, make sure you find a partner that will work collaboratively through the twists and turns of the journey. From there, you must be intentional about building a productive relationship between your company and the partner."

Tony Sommer, a general manager of specialty eye care at CooperVision, also added to the conversation.

"Humility, yes. But not in a bad way. Most executives have been fairly successful with few setbacks and so have the blind spot on the partnership aspect," Sommer wrote, adding that Mullings "nailed it with 'the sum of what we do not know' comment."

Jawad Ali, MD, a surgeon, and the founder of Austin Medtech Connect, also had some thoughts to share on the topic.

"It’s easier to say no to an expense than to take a 'risk' and pay for something that could be seen as wasteful," Ali commented. "Especially true in this environment and ironically even more dangerous as the decision to not pull the trigger on a partnership could lead to costs the company can’t bear. At the end of the day, it’s hard to convince someone who doesn’t want to be convinced."

What are your thoughts? Click on Mullings' post below to continue the conversation.



About the Author(s)

Amanda Pedersen

Amanda Pedersen is a veteran journalist and award-winning columnist with a passion for helping medical device professionals connect the dots between the medtech news of the day and the bigger picture. She has been covering the medtech industry since 2006.

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