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According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, I’d be classified as an INTJ. Or maybe ISTJ. Could depend on the day.

The Myers-Briggs classification format is widely used in our industry (and many others), but is it really worthwhile? According to this article with a rather provocative title (Why the Myers-Briggs Test is Totally Meaningless), the entire scheme is questionable. I’d encourage you to read the entire article.

INTJ

Today, I want to focus on one question: is the Myers-Briggs test a good tool for predicting career success – or, for that matter, helping shape career choices?

I am actually a big fan of profiling – mapping out one’s makeup and tendencies and abilities (I often use the terms personal/professional DNA, or internal wiring) to try to see where a person can ideally “fit” career-wise.

But I think a personality test – whether or not it’s resting on a valid foundation – has limits. Because a truer indicator of success is a performance test.

What are you actually good at doing? What does your track record of work indicate is your professional “sweet spot“?

Some of our traits are hard-wired (I, for instance, am an introvert) but can be managed and behaviorally-modified over time (I am an outgoing networker). Looking strictly at my Myers-Briggs personality type, I’m a very unlikely entrepreneur – but there’s more to us than 4 letters and 16 boxes.

We each have unique gifts. We have special (and cultivated) abilities. We act in ways that succeed or fail. We perform, sometimes well beyond what one might expect out of an arrangement of our profile descriptions.

I’ve talked to an amazing array of successful sales people, some of whom are analytical introverts, others of whom are outgoing relationship-sparking wizards. They’ve succeeded by using their abilities, and as they’ve moved into new roles, it becomes evident (sometimes painfully so) where their best competencies truly are.

Performance joined to personality tells the story.

What are your feelings about Myers-Briggs and other such approaches? Helpful? Bogus? Share your insights in the comments!

It was over a year in the making. The re-branding/re-naming of SPBT (the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) has finally come to pass!

Though the decision was made on the new identity 6 months ago, the annual conference in Dallas last week was the format for “the big reveal.”

Welcome LTEN – the Life Sciences Trainers and Educators Network. A more inclusive name for the more diverse population of learning professionals (including pharma, biotech, medical devices, and diagnostics) that now make up the organization.

As a branding guy, I like it. The name has flexibility. The acronym is simple. The new look is modern. This was a major win (kudos to the LTEN staff and board for the successful re-launch)!

LTEN

LTEN sjovallAnd, it was only slightly disconcerting to have LTEN President John Sjovall march out on stage in a Roman gladiator get-up…!

Over 18 years, I have seen the organization evolve, from its roots as NSPST (National Society of Pharmaceutical Sales Trainers), to the present day as LTEN. And every year, the annual gathering is a highlight of my spring schedule.

The conference this year was held at the Gaylord Texan, a mega-hotel/destination in Grapevine, TX. The vast Gaylord properties can be a little overwhelming, but the facility and the LTEN staff did an excellent job with signage and traffic flow. It was a good choice of venue – especially because there was BBQ (more on that later). Next year’s event will be in the Phoenix area – the first time there in recent memory.

LTEN Gaylord

There was an interesting mix of keynotes. Amy Cuddy opened up the conference with a talk on, for lack of a better term, “power posing” – how the way we carry ourselves physically impacts, not only how others perceive ourselves, but how we feel internally. This was an OK session, though I didn’t feel the theme was uniquely targeted to our particular audience (there was a lot of power-posing going on during the week, however!) On the other hand, double-amputee model and athlete Aimee Mullins had a pretty inspirational story about not viewing disabilities as disabilities at all. Many seemed moved by her message and example. She’s a good public speaker, though with room for improvement on liveliness.

LTEN power

(feeling the Power!)

When Dr. David Rock got up to speak, about Neuroleadership (aspects of brain science on how we learn and lead), one of the people at my table confessed that she was a David Rock groupie after hearing him previously (confession: I tend to snort at becoming groupies of anyone or anything). I then proceeded to become a David Rock groupie after an hour of mind-expanding neuro-psych-analysis. I’ll bet some others were less enamored, but as a college psych major and highly analytical thinker, I was totally energized! The conference keynotes closed with my friend Dr. Karl Kapp (a professor of Instructional Technology) not only talking about gamification, but delivering a thoroughly gamified session – really well done. Karl’s a smart guy.

One interesting twist this year was a series of 3 EdTalks – 18-minute sessions on more limited topics. Other innovations included a much more robust conference app (including a photo game called Play Click), learning stations in the exhibit hall, Dine Arounds (and other networking activities), and early morning fitness opportunties. The fresh thinking that Executive Director Kevin Kruse and his talented staff have been putting into the conference over the past few years really bore fruit in 2014 – I had the sense that we have finally attained a major re-boot in the conference and the organization.

I had the pleasure of co-leading a workshop on Career Choices with the engaging and deeply-experienced Jerry Clor – there is always plenty of professional introspection occuring about staying within pharma, or going out to the “dark side” (vendor community) – we tried to provide some advice and pros/cons about the various options. There were many good workshops – quality is always variable – with occasional photobombers present (thanks, Sue!).

LTEN photobomb

The feedback I was getting from exhibitors was actually quite positive this year, especially regarding the quality of interactions with attendees. The ongoing tweaks to workshop scheduling has led to some very nice, extended times in the exhibit hall. I was disappointed to see that the size and number of booths continues to shrink somewhat, and LTEN has some work ahead to convince past, present, and new exhibitors that setting up a booth at this annual conference is a good return on investment.

One of my favorite aspects of the conference, not surprisingly, is the networking – over meals, after sessions, in the exhibit hall, and during evening events. Getting caught up with folks I’ve known for many years - and always meeting new people -is the chief reason I attend. Many attendees who knew that my family is about to move from NJ to Nashville expressed incredible support and gladness for us – maybe even a bit of jealousy – and this really lifted my heart. My Impactiviti services (consulting and workshop facilitation and client-vendor matchmaking and clarity therapy) won’t change at all; but now, when you make trips to Nashville for business or pleasure, you’ll have someone you can turn to for coffee, or advice. Or BBQ.

Which brings me to the last point. BBQ. Specifically, Bill Lycett‘s suggestion that we try out Hard Eight barbecue pit a few miles away. Bob Holliday, Bill, and I waddled out of there stuffed to the gills with some top-shelf Texas BBQ. I wanted to bottle the aromatic smoky air and take it home with me as a souvenir of a very enjoyable LTEN conference experience (let’s hope Phoenix has something comparable…)!

LTEN BBQ

All in all, a very enjoyable week. The LTEN staff and volunteers were a pleasure to interact with, as always. Looking forward to years of steady progress ahead with this re-energized organization!

I’ve made the case in the past that one of the secret ingredients missing in most training organizations is having someone in place to head up Operations.

And a big piece of that is bringing on real project managers (not just rotational sales trainers thrown into the lion’s den of managing projects).

Here’s a good start - Takeda’s recent posting for a project management position:

Takeda PM job

If every biopharma training dept. had the right kind of person occupying a role like this, I guarantee that the savings realized would far exceed the salary expended.

Today, I want to pull back the veil a bit on one of the most important parts of my network.

The Impactiviti pharmaceutical network is pretty broad, encompassing a range of professionals in the pharma/biotech/med devices/healthcare sphere.

But then there’s my “Inner Circle,” and that group provides one of the best pools of expertise I can offer you.

The “Inner Circle” is my closer group of industry clients and partners who support each other through recommendations of vendors and other resources.

Inner Circle

How does it work? Here’s a very recent example:

Someone who took on a newly-created training role was looking for a potential vendor(s) who could provide curriculum for a very specialized niche group. I spent time brainstorming the need with this individual and more carefully defining the need. This was a case where I felt I should reach out to my Inner Circle for their advice (these Inner Circle e-mails, which occur about every 2 weeks or so, are anonymous so no identifying client information is shared). In this case, I got back several well-targeted recommendations, including some companies that I was familiar with, but wasn’t sure could extend out to this niche. Today, I’ll make specific recommendations back to my client.

On a regular basis, people in my Inner Circle expose me to previously-unknown companies, some of whom become valued Impactiviti referral partners. In fact, in recent months, Inner Circle recommendations have led me to a great Managed Markets training supplier, a boutique leadership development firm, and a virtual facilitation training company – all of whom I can now bring forward as targeted referrals.

This two-way recommendation network effect makes it so much easier to identify the best resources for specific needs.

When you call on us here at Impactiviti, you get far more than Steve Woodruff. You get unmatched expertise from your peers. So, when it’s time to seek out vendor/partners – contact us. We can provide the best expertise available, without charging you a penny.

(stevew at impactiviti dot com; 973-947-7429)

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Related post: The Pharma Roller-coaster

Yes, we’re in the midst of the digital revolution. If you know me, you know I’m totally into it (and have been for a long time).

We made a slow but steady move toward taking our training and marketing and communications, and migrating them to digital formats and platforms. Learning Management Systems. Content Management platforms. iPads. YouTube. Closed-loop Marketing programs. On and on.

That’s not what’s primary, however. It’s inevitable that we evolve into using these new tools. But digital conversion is not enough.

The conversation should not primarily be about digital. When delivering information to any audience, these three things should be at the forefront, driving every format and delivery decision:

  • Clarity
  • Relevance
  • Timeliness

Whether it’s 1954 or 2014; whether it’s print or .pdf or television or Twitter; whether it’s sales or marketing or training; these three issues are our primary concerns.

> Is it clear? Whatever you’re trying to convey has to be understood by your audience, not just put in front of their eyeballs. Even the Golden Gate Bridge cannot be appreciated when it is buried in fog.

> Is it relevant? The most wonderfully formatted and expressed information will not move any needle strategically, if it is delivered to an audience that doesn’t see a WIIFM.

> Is it timely? Communications of any sort have to reach people at the point of felt need. Digital may – or may not – be an important part of the timeliness equation.

We (and our vendors) often think about tactics and programs in terms of deliverables; e.g., this is going to be blended learning module on A&P and disease state which will be compatible with iPad delivery. That’s fine, but it’s a layer below the top-tier concerns. How will the information design be incorporated to achieve maximum clarity? How can the most prominence be given to the most relevant information? How can ensure that our audience can access what they most need when they most need it?

Utility is primary

Format isn’t the focus. Utility is primary. If it’s not clear, relevant, and timely, it’s not useful.

(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

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