Pharma needs to reinvent themselves

QUICK READ: Change is inevitable. You need to decide: Will you drive that change or be driven away by it? Will you disrupt or be disrupted? The most successful companies, brands, and individuals make reinvention a regular part of their business strategies. Transformation demands an ongoing process of discovery and imagination.

Pharma has the responsibility to prioritize reinvention. Their organization has become intoxicated by its own success. The market no longer leaves room for me-too players, a principle that applies to both companies and individuals. The choices are clear: disrupt, or be disrupted.

Creativity is the new, most effectively sustainable competitive advantage; it’s the one thing that no company can outsource. That makes disruptive innovation your most valuable natural resource, even though it isn’t displayed on the balance sheet. But too many Pharma companies see disruptive employees as trouble makers and they punish them. The result is that people go along with strategies they know are wrong.

When it comes to reinvention, getting started is the hard- est part of the task, but it’s also the most important. In today’s warp-speed world, swiftness wins. If you wait to try a new idea until you’ve carefully orchestrated every possible maneuver, the world will pass you by while you’re busy planning and Pharma loves planning sessions.

Eight Principles of the Reinvention Ethos

Study any supremely successful organization or individ- ual, and you’ll encounter a consistent theme: an ethos of reinvention whose principles embody the disruptive mind- set. Here are eight of the most important principles of that reinvention ethos:

  1. Let go of the past. The past is a great teacher, but it’s a horrible master. Living in its clutches can shackle your imagination and relegate you to thinking small. We can’t go back, and we don’t need to. Your own grit and determination will become your new safety net.
  2. Encourage courage. The best organizations focus on celebrating new ideas instead of punishing them. You’ll never instill the spirit of reinvention in your team by making people afraid to express their ideas.
  3. Embrace failure.“Every bullseye is the result of 100 misses,” the old saying goes. Yet we harshly condemn setbacks. Failure is an essential part of the discovery process. Teach your team to consider mistakes and missteps a natural part of the pathway toward reinvention.
  1. Do the opposite. Some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from innovators implementing a contrarian approach. Doing the opposite — upending expectations, running toward the thing everyone else is running from — is critical to stand out from the crowd.
  2. Imagine the possibilities. With eyes wide open, obstacles, barriers, and roadblocks are painfully clear. But when you close your eyes, your mind can transcend reality and explore what’s possible. Reinvention is born in the imagination.
  3. Put yourself out of business. The iPhone 8 will be designed to put the iPhone 7 out of business. Successful companies put themselves out of business before the competition or market conditions do the job for them.
  4. Reject limits. The world is filled with naysayers. Nearly every advance in civilization was met with an ice-cold reception. The path forward involves crushing supposed limits, refusing to accept the reflexive no, and unleashing an unwavering belief that you will prevail.
  5. Aim beyond. Whether you are launching a product, opening a fashion boutique, seeking a job, or rebuilding a broken community, your focal point must be ahead of you. You need to move forward anticipating trends and changes in the competitive landscape.

Regardless of our industries and no matter how powerful our organizations may be, we cannot prevent disruption. Those who focus all of their energy on simply holding on to what they have will never be able to reach out for more. By clinging to the past, they are choosing to become obsolete.

Now while trade publications talk about “pharma’s improving image” in the rush to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 what they’re forgetting is that people always trusted pharma to develop great medications. Where Pharma’s reputation dropped like a stone in water was the pricing of these drugs while the CEO’s make millions and the industries high-profit margins.

Certain executives could say “people need us more than we need them” but that would be a huge mistake. Patients have more choices than ever when it comes to treatment options.

Pharma needs to seek out people who are risk-takers and disruptors. We just can’t afford to continue to do business as nothing has changed.