The pace of change in today’s business and technology is daunting. The bigger the organization, the harder it often is to adapt and remain competitive. When the landscape is rapidly changing, the most competitive advantage an organization can have is flexibility and responsiveness. In short, a willingness to change. However, the most competitive organizations go beyond a mere willingness to change and have a culture that embraces change, rewards it and thrives on it. Disappointingly, a lot of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies struggle with the ability to change.
Imagine if a brand manager’s key performance indicators (KPIs) were not focused on sales revenue, but on the customer experience. In the pharmaceutical business, what that really means is patient outcomes. The primary question on the brand manager’s mind each morning would not be, “How do I increase my market share?” but instead, “How can I further improve my customer’s outcomes and quality of life?” Imagine if ROI were not measured on a dollar return of capital, but on a customer satisfaction survey. Both are clearly great measures of success. However, one is a short-term measure while the other could perhaps produce better long-term financial results, yet is not an acceptable measure of success today. Should it be? There are many new innovative healthcare technology companies who plan to capitalize on the Affordable Care Act and take an outcomes-based approach to patient management. Their investors are betting on the long term.
Imagine if the thinking within the medical legal and regulatory departments (MLR) were focused on embracing and thriving on change. What if you went in to present your ideas on a dynamic online advertising campaign that could trigger different messages to different users based on demographics, location and weather in their area for a possible campaign flighting of over 1,000 different creative permutations? You are probably imagining what they would say about that right now, and cringing at the very thought. What if they surprised you and responded, “Great. What else can we do? How about we also personalize the creative for each user and also dynamically change it based on other customer data attributes we have in our CRM? We know this would make an infinite number of possible messages, but those messages would be very relevant to each recipient and would create a better customer experience and better long-term outcomes for the customer—so let’s do it!” It’s a simple change. Having MLR’s KPIs based on customer experience and outcomes as well, rather than brand protection, FDA warning letter avoidance and overall defensiveness. Which is better for the company long term?
Simon Sinek has a great TED video on how leadership starts with “Why” (bit.ly/SinekVid). Why does the company exist? What is the fundamental purpose of the organization? What is your company’s reason for being? We know that our “why” is much deeper than the short-term KPI of growing market share. Our “why” is about improving lives. Improving patient outcomes. Healing. It’s in your mission statement. So why isn’t it the inspiration behind the reason most brand managers get up each day and go to work? If it was, we would have a robust pipeline, rather than an industry that spent the last decades creating “me too” products. While this might sound far-fetched and utopian, it is how highly successful and competitive organizations are operating and succeeding in a rapidly changing environment. Why can’t we change our businesses to be more utopian? What changes would be necessary in your organization to make these scenarios a reality? Why do you come to work in the morning? Does it inspire you? If not, why are you still doing it?