Archive for the ‘Pharmaceutical’ Category

I’ve been wrestling with something and would really like input from you, my commercial biopharma readers.

It has to do with the misperception of the training department as something less-than-strategic in the commercial organization.

You know the drill. Financial problems? – cut training. Tactical needs? – throw it over the wall at training. Got a rising corporate star needing a ticket to punch? – put him or her over training.

Training is often viewed as a “servant” organization, without a business-value-adding identity – and we who are in the field often struggle to articulate its strategic role in the corporation.

We have an instinctive understanding of the value of T&D, but how to articulate it in the language that a C-level person would embrace? Can it be summarized in one punchy sentence?

Here’s one concept I’ve come up with so far…

Training Development value

Training’s mission is to develop the present and future leadership of the company – not only via training programs, but also through the rotation of high performers in the training department, which serves as a crucible and a sieve to create better corporate leaders.

And as Jim Trunick (formerly of Allergan) once pointed out to me, part of that mission (which is irreplacably in the hands of T&D) is imparting and reinforcing corporate culture.

Corporate executives are often quick to cut or devalue “training.” But creating and equipping leaders at every level is perhaps the conversation we need to embark upon – because that’s all about strategic business value.

What do you think?

Read Full Post »

I’ve seen a lot of things impact training and development departments over the years. But, by far, the most disruptive force I’ve seen derailing any kind of strategic direction is regime change.

regimeYou know what I mean – leadership change at the top.

One huge cause of regime change is M&A activity. After almost 19 years in the industry, I’ve seen far more mergers and acquisitions than I care to remember (and far too many displacements of good people in the process). What tends to happen is that everything grinds to a halt – and depending on the relative size of the two companies involved, sometimes any kind of strategic advance freezes up in both companies as the details of the merged companies get hashed out.

Programs carefully defined and well-funded die on the vine. Turmoil replaces structured implementation. Sometimes there are 12-18 months of questions-without-answers, plus (once the merger/acquisition is finalized), another 6-9 months of shuffling the deck until some new departmental order emerges.

That’s a lot of lost opportunity.

Not only does this create a lot of uncertainly among those within these departments, but it can cause quite a bit of havoc for vendor/partners who work with either or both companies involved. Funding tends to dry up; training programs move into a holding pattern; and, for some vendors who only have a few major clients, this experience can turn into a revenue death march. I always urge my vendor partners to try to have no fewer than 4-6 steady clients just because of this reality.

But mergers and acquisitions are not the only cause of regime change. Sometimes someone is brought in from outside T&D to run the department (often, in this scenario, the T&D department is viewed as a stepping-stone to corporate advancement). And what is the new leader charged to do? Why, change things up, of course!

Change structure. Change people. Change direction. Change strategy. Change message. And sometimes – well, sometimes it’s needed, and the right person is tapped to implement change!

But, many are the tales I have heard of leaders taking over a department who do not have the training background and experience to implement and carry out an effective T&D strategy. Big consulting groups are paid to create roadmaps, plans and programs are overturned, and then…2-3 years later…the cycle repeats itself as leaders are re-shuffled and another round of regime change begins.

These dynamics may not change any time soon. But perhaps what we need to do is elevate the corporate conversation around T&D – carving out training’s role as a strategic asset, not just a “servant” department meant to take on whatever tactical tasks are thrown over the wall by Sales or Marketing.

What strategic roles and responsibilities can Training and Development embrace (and effectively communicate) in the organization that will make it more of a valued strategic partner that transcends the latest regime change? Your thoughts?

(here are some interesting insights from Lisa Dreher of Ferring in the latest edition of FOCUS magazine, on Having a Seat at the Table)

Read Full Post »

What Are Your “Hashtags” For 2015?

I recently spent 1 1/2 days with a Learning and Development client doing something interesting – facilitating a vision-building and forward-looking planning meeting. It was a very interesting and fruitful exercise, especially given the changes and turnover in that department (and company).

What was the biggest challenge? Getting trainers to rise above the day-to-day tactical (get-it-done reactive mode), and to start thinking strategic and long-term. Sound familiar?

We try to set strategic direction, but often get immersed in firefighting.

So, to remain pro-active and on point, here’s what we did – we distilled the key emphases for the department into three core concepts, and #hashtagged them.

You know about #hashtags, right? It’s how we label things on the internet. But, it turns out, it’s also a very useful memory trick. If we, as a group, can adhere to handful of hashtagged-words instead of long-winded statements, it’s much easier to retain focus, and use those key words as both filter and lens to evaluate upcoming decisions.

depthOne of the hashtags for Impactiviti in 2015 will be #Depth, because I need to find ways to add value at a deeper, more long-term level with my clients. In fact, you’ll find that when I talk with you in the coming months, it won’t just be about the next vendor recommendation. We’ll go deeper, into levels of need that I may be uniquely qualified to meet.

Do you have a set of hashtags for your department for 2015? Maybe that’s the first discussion we can have come January!!

Read Full Post »

How many of your training managers actually have some kind of background in operations – or, have been trained in how to manage vendors and projects?

If your department is like that of most life science companies, the answer probably lies between few and none. Why? Well, trainers are typically assigned out of Sales, not Operations.

But managing projects requires a new skill set, and without it, expensive failures regularly occur during a training rotation (and beyond).

Being shoved into the deep end of the pool is one way to learn to swim. But a one-day workshop is all that’s needed to impart the core principles and basic practices leading to successful project management.

In one minute, here’s an explanation of the key value of this workshop:

Impactiviti and LTEN sponsor these workshops for life sciences member companies. All the details are right here. Sign your trainers up now while there is still room!

Read Full Post »

new drugI imagine we’ve all been closely following the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Although we’re a long way from the finish line, how encouraging is it that a very experimental biotech drug may be saving the lives of a couple of infected healthcare workers.

Moving toward the integrated  display of a glucose monitoring system, and insulin pump system for diabetes (Dexcom and Insulet).

Will animal testing eventually go the way of the dodo bird in drug development? Maybe – now that scientists are developing “human body on a chip” technology. Fascinating stuff.

Big investment money going after CARTs (leading-edge cancer treatment based on re-engineering the patient’s own white blood cells).

Alliance between BMS and Allied Minds to speed R&D developments in university research insititutions (data-, expertise-, and resource-sharing).

Novartis on the threshold of a new chronic heart failure treatment.

BONUS: will there soon be a blood test to detect ANY type of cancer?

Read Full Post »

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.


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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers