Honoring the gift of donation, AlloSource responsibly develops processes and distributes life-saving and life-enhancing human tissue for our communities. —AlloSource Mission Statement
When this statement is your company’s mission, it characterizes the work your people do every day. The future suddenly takes on a greater sense of urgency and significance. AlloSource, an innovator and processor of donated human tissue, located in Centennial, Colorado, emphasizes its deep commitment to honor the gift of donor tissue by determining the best ways to maximize tissue donation.
AlloSource’s longtime commitment to traditional allografts (human bone and tissue allografts) has evolved significantly over the years. Developing and delivering products that are distributed to surgeons throughout the world to treat a wide variety of injury and disease is now the norm for AlloSource. As the organization approaches 20 years of business in 2014, their product portfolio has expanded drastically. From traditional bone void fillers, to uniquely innovative products such as AlloStem®, a bone allograft with adult (mesenchymal) stem cells, AlloSource continues to honor their mission and strives to maximize the gift of donation through innovation.
AlloSource’s mission reaches beyond innovative products and into their business model. Founded in 1994, AlloSource began when three of the nation’s top organ procurement organizations (OPOs)—Donor Alliance in Denver, Mid-America Transplant Services in St. Louis and Gift of Hope in Chicago—came together to create a separate entity to process tissue donors and then distribute that tissue back into the community. As a result, the company was established with the leaders of these OPOs sitting as the AlloSource board of directors. As the business grew, the board expanded to include six OPO leaders.
Tom Cycyota, AlloSource president and CEO, says, “We continue to revolutionize tissue transplantation for patients in need, [so] donor families can take comfort in knowing that we will continue to develop new ways to honor their loved ones’ gifts. Coupled with our commitment to collaboration and customer service, more people are being positively impacted by our work than ever before.”
In today’s rapidly changing health care and tissue industry, AlloSource manages to innovate new products, collaborate with medical professionals, invent breakthrough technologies and most importantly maximize the gift of tissue donation. Because of this, AlloSource remains sustainable and is establishing itself as a leader in the industry.
Focusing on the future with strategy and innovation
Survival as a sustainable organization requires a focus beyond today’s urgent needs. An understanding of the long-range trends and opportunities is required to make long-term commitments for growth, while engaging employees in the mission and maintaining the utmost standard for safe and quality tissue.
Anticipating and predicting the future, then betting on it by investing human and financial resources, is an inexact blend of science and art. However, organizations that only focus on the near term maintain success only if their industry remains static over time. Such conditions are dangerous, at best, in today’s business environment. IBM didn’t become the world’s largest consulting services provider by doubling down on its past investments in adding machines, typewriters, supercomputers and desktop PCs.
Systematic, future-focused processes for strategy and innovation enable AlloSource to:
- • Understand and address challenges that face the organization;
- • Capitalize on competitive advantages and market opportunities;
- • Nurture organizational competencies that enable product innovation and realization;
- • Evaluate and take intelligent risks that expand markets, products and technologies;
- • Gather knowledge from physicians, medical professionals and researchers; and
- • Anticipate health care industry changes such as insurance reform, delivery models and treatment protocols.
For typical organizations, a strategic plan that gathers dust on the shelf hides missed business opportunities. Misalignment of people and processes diminishes financial performance. Lack of engagement of people and partners harms commitment, productivity and cooperation. Customer service means responding to problems.
PICTURE OF GUY WITH PETRI DISHES AND THIS Caption: AlloSource research and development projects explore the viability of future-focused products.
Because each donor can impact up to 200 lives, AlloSource’s future focus on strategy and innovation is imperative to produce and to continuously develop progressive products medical professionals will choose. For AlloSource, a higher cause and calling require no less than excellence in strategy, alignment, innovation, engagement and customer centrism to optimize a donor’s impact and to save and enhance more lives. AlloSource’s success is measured by its mission to honor the donor’s gift and to save and enhance lives.
Systematic planning brings the future closer
Solid growth and continued success through innovation describe the last 20 years for AlloSource. This did not come easily but was driven through the continual progression of strategic planning and strategic decisions. Today, AlloSource gives back to the community by processing nearly 4,000 donors, which translates to nearly 100,000 lives affected each year. The evolution of success has developed into a defined five-part strategic planning process built to guide the executive leadership team in their decisions that will drive future sustainability.
PICTURE & CAPTION: AlloStem® Cellular Bone Allograft utilizes mesenchymal stem cells, derived from donor adipose tissue combined with partially demineralized cancellous bone.
AlloSource’s product portfolio ranges from living cartilage products for joint repair, life-saving skin for burn victims, whole femurs for cancer patients and even stem cell products. The executive team decides where to expand product offerings to further honor the gift of donation. It all hinges on an extensive situational analysis process to identify blind spots, opportunities and internal and external trends and influences.
The situational analysis process collects a large amount of information through external expert presentations, surgeon and scientific advisory boards, departmental analysis and active listening to their customers. The executive team devotes a great deal of time and energy to take this large amount of information and extract critical knowledge needed to build AlloSource’s defined strategies.
With such a broad range of innovative technologies, it would be hard to lose focus. AlloSource has learned that having a few significant strategies is an effective method for keeping the entire organization focused. These strategies have ranged from building infrastructure for future growth, organizational culture shifts and expanded distribution to new products and technologies that will separate AlloSource from the competition, while always honoring the gift of donation.
Driving the project portfolio
Strategies alone are not enough to lead AlloSource into the future. The next step in the process is to determine actionable projects that will be the focus for the next year. This process involves bringing nearly all levels of the organization into the process so that all have a voice in developing projects that align with the strategies. A rigorous process of project evaluation ensues to whittle down the project list and ultimately decide on which projects will bring the most benefit to AlloSource.
This benefit can only be realized when there is alignment between the customer needs and what AlloSource delivers. AlloSource recently implemented a program to allow physicians to give direct feedback on their products. This input, plus input to marketing managers, district managers and other AlloSource personnel, is critical to delivering the products that will meet the needs of the customer.
The resulting strategic plan is formally documented, presented to the board of directors for approval and formally delivered to all levels of AlloSource leadership. No strategy will be successful unless it is effectively communicated to all employees, and they must understand their role in delivering the strategy. AlloSource uses a company-wide network solution where corporate goals are cascaded down from senior leadership to every employee so all know how their role is aligned to the AlloSource strategic plan.
During the past 10 years, AlloSource has enjoyed a number of successes that have honored the gift of donation while increasing their market competitiveness, in part because of the rigorous strategic planning process. AlloSource’s product portfolio has grown so much in the past decade that more than half of the products produced today were not part of the product portfolio 10 years ago. They have seen double-digit annual growth rates over the past few years, and new, innovative products using stem cell technologies have been a strong driver of this growth.
Envisioning a successful future
The strategic planning process is an endeavor that is never stagnant. As soon as the process is complete for one year, it immediately acts as a foundation to continue the next cycle. As AlloSource learns from its successes and continues to develop new technologies, the mission of AlloSource will continue to change the lives of the community.
Evolving industry trends require AlloSource to keep adapting in planning for the future. Unknown impacts of health care reform on medical reimbursement affect the company’s physician and hospital customers. Technology in the medical products industry enables new applications for donated tissue. Partnering in the industry, from collaborating with OPOs to joint ventures with medical device and technology companies, opens avenues for new project development and distribution.
Following the mission that has guided them for two decades, AlloSource will achieve their goals in the next 20 years. While the industry’s future may be uncertain, AlloSource’s mission makes its future completely certain: honor the donor gift by providing life-saving and life-enhancing tissue products. With so much at stake, a process that focuses AlloSource on the future is more than a good idea; it’s absolutely mission-critical.
PIX OF RUNNER WITH CAPTION: Rachel Frank, an allograft meniscus recipient, completed the Hawaii Ironman 70.3 Triathlon following her transplant.
Jason Stephens is corporate development manager at AlloSource. Jim Czepiel is vice president of strategic development at AlloSource. To learn more about AlloSource and their progressive allograft products, visit www.allosource.org or www.allograftpossibilities.org. AlloSource is a Denver Business Journal (DBJ) Health Care Champion—Top Innovator (2010), DBJ Healthiest Employers (2012), and Rocky Mountain Performance Excellence award recipient (2010). Adam Cohen, principal of Accelerant Performance Solutions (accelerantperformance.com), contributed to this article.