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(AP)ril 1

NYC – Pfizer Pharmaceuticals announced today its boldest corporate move yet – the establishment of a top-tier group dedicated solely to re-organizing the company on a perpetual basis.

Citing a long-standing relationship with Price Waterhouse Coopers over the years during countless prior re-organizations, Pfizer CEO Ian Reed announced the acquisition by stating, “We’ve paid them a fortune over the years anyway – why not just bring them in-house?”

ID-100246624Pfizer, which last re-organized in Q1 2014, also engaged PWC to consult on corporate shuffling in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 (twice), 2008, 2007, 2006, and countless years before that. “Spin-offs, M&A, downsizing, new corporate jargon initiatives – we can no longer see these things as periodic in the new economy. Change is constant, and…..sorry, what’s that??? I no longer have a VP of R&D?? Ah, well, our newest division is already hard at work!”

PWC also actively helped 26 other pharmaceutical and biotech companies re-organize at least annually during the same time period. These companies will now have to figure it out on their own; or, worse yet, keep their current structure in place for a year or even more.

“We may have to deal with productive employees again, at least until we can find another re-org consultancy,” stated one unnamed president of a mid-tier pharmaceutical company. “I think our people will miss the endless turmoil and doubt of the monthly re-org meetings.”

“Like all of our peers, we’re really in two businesses,” declared Reed at the press conference to announce the acquisition. “Making drugs, and re-organizing. It just makes sense to have a permanent Division of Re-organization dedicated to the effort of optimizing our commercial human/technical footprint vis-a-vis current market opportunities.”

Asked how the new division would be organized, Reed deferred to the current leader of the PWC division, who could not be reached for comment during the current re-organization.

April 1 is known throughout the industry to be the “Spring Re-org Season,” generally kicking off around Opening Day of every new baseball season. Rumors that Pfizer was planning to spin off its OTC division and replace it with the New York Mets could not be confirmed.

(yes, it is April Fool’s Day)

Image credit: ponsuwan via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We talk a lot about design when outsourcing work to vendors.

Graphical Design. Instructional Design. Interface Design.

But one oft-neglected area is Information Design. This is the art and science of taking a mass of information, and creatively turning into a beautiful, intuitive package that is easy to navigate and consume.

Information Design

Where would a boutique vendor specializing in information design come in handy? A few ideas:

  1. On-boarding packets
  2. Career trees
  3. Training modules and handouts
  4. Slide design
  5. Internal and field communications
  6. Launches

When people intersect with information, an intuitive and attractive “map” to navigate through from beginning to end is hugely important – but often lacking.

If you’d like to look at some talented resources for this kind of work, let us know here at Impactiviti (stevew at impactiviti dot com). We’ll make the connection.

In short, The Antidote is a great read for those of us in the biopharma industry.

book The Antidote

Barry Werth wrote a previous volume, The Billion Dollar Molecule, about the early years of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. This follow-up book outlines the history, the personalities, the processes, and the high-risk-high-reward decisions that went into Vertex advancing its first drug(s) to the marketplace, and morphing itself into a commercial organization.

From the mercurial brilliance of founder Joshua Berger to all the various players who came on board to evolve the company, it’s a fascinating account of how a company struggled to shape and maintain its culture. The blow-by-blow account of deciding on drug candidates, based on the Vertex philosophy of science and medicine (and business), is eye-opening. Some of the language would be a bit technical and arcane for those not involved in the industry, but for pharmaceutical and biotech professionals, this is a great story.

The writing style flows nicely – such a book could become dry; but, in fact, I had a hard time putting this one down each night.

Highly recommended!

Many consulting groups will gladly trade a 100-slide Powerpoint deck of strategy for a bunch of your money.

And, many outsource training companies will offer you various point solutions for this and that piece of your training needs.

But what about that messy middle? What about the implementation space between the Deck and the Done? It’s awfully difficult to find the bandwidth to take on (and complete) large-scale projects.

Bandwidth

The pull-it-all-together aspect of bringing order out of chaos is where one of our Impactiviti partners specializes. Not only can this group do the more limited training projects, they have the resources (designers, project managers, strategists, technologists, etc.) to be an outsource partner for your 3-12 month “major” initiatives.

If that’s the kind of provider you’re looking for, let us know here at Impactiviti (stevew at impactiviti dot com). We’ll make the connection.

In a word: Operations.

I was speaking with a Sales Training Director in a major biotech company recently, and he put me in contact with someone in the department who is heading up things like project management, vendor management, instructional design, internal processes, and the like.

We hit it off immediately. Because we could speak each others’ language.

There are a relatively few of my life sciences clients who have hired someone with operations experience to “run” the nuts and bolts of the department. When this position is put in place, it makes a world of difference.

operations

Here’s why: most people in the training department come out of field sales. Sales is a very different world from operations, and many training managers struggle with newly-assigned project management responsibilities. Operational thinking may not be in their personal wiring, and the skills required are often not trained during on-boarding.

Result: floundering. Inefficiency. And then, since many of these training positions are rotational, a solid and consistent base of operations experience never truly develops in the department.

This is why I’ve advised many clients to create a permanent (not rotational) position to head up project and vendor management, contract negotiation, RFP process, and instructional design/technical standards. Typically, this is not going to be someone from the sales force – there’s a different knowledge base and skill set required.

I would contend that the money saved by more effective processes will probably be at least double or triple the salary expended in the first year alone.

And when new training managers are given project tasks, they now have experienced help to shepherd them through the unfamiliar responsibilities, instead of just floundering in the deep end of the pool.

Look, I really enjoy my work here at Impactiviti doing vendor/project management workshops and providing related advisory services. But some of what I do really needs to be transitioned to an internal resource – a go-to operations person in the department. I’d be happy to talk further with any of my pharma/biotech clients about how to build a stronger internal system for training operations.

Related Post: Doing Digital Learning – The TWO People You Need

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Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As human beings, we always have a tendency to pop on our rose-colored glasses and talk about the “good old days.”

Remember the good old days, when pharmaceutical manufacturers were almost constantly growing and profitable? When expansion was the norm, not the exception? When a career arc was fairly secure unless you really fouled it up?

Now it’s all about lean. Entire sales forces drastically cut, or eliminated, or re-organized. Career people suddenly without careers. Downsizing sometimes feels more like capsizing.

We’re on a roller coaster these days, and with all the turmoil of the ever-shifting healthcare environment, that’s not changing anytime soon.

rollercoaster

So what is a pharmaceutical professional to do?

Do yourself a huge favor. Build your network. Build it now, even long before you end up looking for a new professional direction.

There is no corporate safety net. There is only your opportunity network.

I’ve given small and large workshops on professional network-building to industry audiences, and have also spoken to I don’t know how many dozens of colleagues in the industry who are having to re-assess their direction, usually unwillingly.

One very common regret – not pro-actively building a network ahead of time.

LinkedinUniversally, for our industry, I’ve pointed to LinkedIn as the best place to build your professional network. Don’t worry too much about Twitter and some of the other avenues (unless you’re deep into social media for other reasons). There are ways to be effective using LinkedIn that any intelligent person can employ without a huge investment of time.

This is where your colleagues are. You contacts outside the industry that should be cultivated. And probably, your next job.

If you’re in our industry, feel free to connect with me and let me know what you’re seeking to accomplish. I’ve built the Impactiviti network for you, not just me. We’re a bunch of us helping each other find what we need – not just optimal vendors, but new professional opportunities.

Get IN and let’s get started

Training people to train other people is enough of a challenge, and it’s one that pharmaceutical T&D departments have taken on for many years.

But did you know that virtual facilitation – training at a distance using on-line video – has its own challenges? Here are five quick pointers on to help you fail at virtual training (don’t do them!):

#5 – SHOW A MESSY BACKGROUND

What message are you sending with that sloppy pile of folders and crumpled up paper? Let me give you a hint – it’s not ‘creative genius at work’. Whether they’re in a home office or corporate setting, people don’t spend enough time organizing the scene behind them. Turn on your web camera in advance to assess the entire picture. Clear away distractions, board-scribblings, or knick-knacks that might pull focus away from what you’re saying. And never, ever use a window as your backdrop.

#4 – DON’T BOTHER TO PREPARE

Watching unprepared presenters is bad enough when you’re in the same room and listeners are held captive. But if you don’t prepare your virtual presentation well enough to keep it interesting and moving quickly, there are plenty of distractions to keep your audience occupied. In fact, studies show that the number one participant activity during a webinar is checking email (actually watching the webinar comes in 2nd). After all, there’s no physical proximity to shame them into paying attention.

#3 – FORGET TO ADJUST CAMERA POSITION

I always get a kick out of video chatting with my parents. If I’m not looking up their noses, I’m talking to the ceiling. Camera position is critical. If your web cam isn’t at eye level, raise it (put a stack of books under a laptop, or use a tripod for a dedicated camera). And remember – if you’re not looking directly into that camera, you’re not making eye contact.

#2 – IGNORE PERSONAL APPEARANCE

We’re watching you – usually far more up close than we would in person.  I don’t want to see bits of your breakfast on your cheek. Nor do I want to see you sweat. Keep water beside you. Take deep breaths to relax. Brush on translucent powder to keep the shine off. If you don’t think this is important, watch Nixon’s first TV debate with JFK.

#1 – GET FLUSTERED BY MISTAKES

Between 60-90% of a message’s effect comes from non-verbal cues. That’s why video meetings are such a great business tool. Think of all you leave on the table if you’re not using the camera! However, since virtual presenting doesn’t come naturally to most, mistakes will happen. If you’re able to be self-deprecating or laugh at your blunders, your audience will relate to you, trust you, and soak up your wisdom.

virtual trainingFacilitating in front of a classroom is not the same as presenting or training “live” in front of a camera. As companies commit more and more resources to virtual meetings, but sure your employees are camera-ready!

What are some of the ups and downs you’ve discovered in your virtual efforts thus far?

Thanks to Amanda Bergen, Stage Harbor Communications, for these tips!

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