Drug development today is experiencing rapid changes driven by the use of data to make better decisions. The rapid changes have been accelerated by the increased speed of development largely prompted by Covid-19. Pharma leaders have leaned on data to capture gains to varying success. Often rapid change requires new mindsets that are essentially for a cultural transformation in the organization.

Transformations often fails because organizations do not recognize the mindset shifts that are needed to change, both for leaders and those on the front lines. Those mindset shifts underpin the culture of the organization that prepare people to understand and adopt the transformation that leaders want.  

To capture efficiencies in a post-covid world, leaders should adopt the right mindsets to drive change. What are those “right” mindsets? The short answer is, it varies from organization-to-organization, even within functions or departments. However, five key mindsets are foundational in driving transformational change. These key mindsets, once adopted, will drive the right behaviors to capture opportunities in the new, fast-paced drug development world.

The 5 key mindsets: 

1.     Patient centricity. Thinking about patients first will help to build solutions that solve patient problems. A page taken from design thinking, patient centricity focuses on relieving patient pain points with innovative solutions. Those solutions do not have to be tech-driven, but most certainly should if it makes sense. Pharma leaders tend to be playing catch-up when it comes to commercialization when it comes to tech-enabled solutions.

Among several opportunities available to Big Pharma, one of the most glaring is the opportunity to connect patients with physicians. When promoting their products, Big Pharma is great at telling a story and informing patients of risks, but fails to make a clear call to action for the consumer. Rather than a simple “talk to your doctor”, leaders should be thinking about how to make the right product seamless to get into the hands of patients. Instead, the burden is often offloaded on the patient, without a clear way of conveying their concern to the doctor.

The point: think about problems from the perspective of the patient. Yes, risk and information is important, but ultimately, we are serving our patient. Moreover, drive this as a mindset in your organization to operationalize change.

2.     Experimentation. For so long, clinical ops have been defined by process. Process that is put into place to protect the company and prevent the attention of regulators. However, to get to the next level experimentation as a mindset will result in a culture transformed in powerful way. Of course, transformation is not achieved overnight, but building a culture of experimentation can start with a small team and start to spread through the organization.

Often, experimentation is viewed increasing risk, which in some ways is true. However, just like any other risk that leaders take, experimentation should be done a controlled way and risks planned and mitigated. Ultimately, if leaders want to compete in a new rapid-development environment, experimentation will be essential for solving for efficiency.

3.     Succeed (or fail) together. Cross-functional collaboration is the new normal. To find efficiencies and better server your patients, leaders should structure their teams to breakdown existing silos and preventing new ones from surfacing. Moreover, leaders should define success as collaborative solutions that are built by cross-functional teams. Teams that succeed and fail together, meaning they see solutions to the end (not just come up with ideas). This mindset shift requires people in a given organization to look past their function and think holistically about solving patient problems. Broadly speaking, leaders should create the space and safety for people to collaboratively solve problems, which will start to create a mindset shift for change.

4.     Empathy. Empathy should be engrained in your management style and role modeled for your peers and reports. Change in the organization cannot be successful without empathy as starting point. Attempting to mechanically change behaviors will ultimately fail without solving for the empathy mindset that must be at the foundation of change or transformation.

5.     Continuous improvement. Taking a page from Kanban and agility, create space to continuously improve. How do you know what need improvement? Two primary sources that should drive your continuous improvement efforts are (1) data that you gather from your processes, both internal and external and (2) observations from your team and your customers. As a leader, build this into your expectation for your teams and hire operations people that understand continuous improvement. Once people get accustomed to continuously improving, not only will they come to accept it as a new mindset for a successful organization, but as a necessity for on the job fulfillment.

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