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Archive for the ‘Pharmaceutical’ Category

Have you ever built something that didn’t come out quite as expected?? :>)

Of course you have. Join the club.

In a recent post about successful project management, I explained the fact that we need to carefully define all aspects of the project, because we each have different meanings of words floating around in our heads (I call this the “mental metadata” issue).

Your idea of a “module” may be quite different from mine – your mental hashtags may not match mine at all, though we are using the same word. Misunderstandings like this derail many a project.

Closely related to reaching agreement on the meaning of words is this next step – being sure our expectations are aligned.

I wish I knew who to credit with this brilliant graphic, because I use it all the time in my Vendor/Project Management workshop, and it never fails to elicit a knowing chuckle:

how-the-pm

Learning how to properly describe and scope out a project is one of the key ingredients to success. The trainer/project manager needs to pro-actively work with internal stakeholders and external vendors to make sure that there is a clear roadmap, with a well-described deliverable at the end – BEFORE any work begins!

In fact, I challenge project managers to drive agreement by distilling the essence of the project – its key expectations, including business outcomes – down to a simple, one-sentence summary:

one-sentence

Contact us here at Impactiviti to discuss how we can help your department move toward best practices in project and vendor management (AskSteve@Impactiviti.com; 973-947-7429).

See also: 5 Compelling Reasons to provide Project Management Training

 

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Quick – what’s a workshop? What words would you use to express your meaning?

If I ask 5 of you that question, I’ll end up with five different answers. Why?

5-workshop

Because we all have varied definitions, experiences, and expectations built up around the common words we use.

“Workshop” can mean one thing to you, and something quite different to me. And unless we define what we actually mean, what we’ll have is a “failure to communicate.”

ch-luke

Technically, this is what I call the “mental metadata” problem. Metadata can be defined as “information about information” – the words and imagery we attach, to give meaning.

The easiest way to think about metadata is how we use hashtags on-line. If I take a picture of a beautiful waterfall in Tennessee and hashtag it #FallCreekFalls – I’m attaching information (in this case, name/location).

We attach labels in order to define and explain things – it’s human nature. But here’s something else about human nature – we assume that others are thinking the way we are!

The danger is when we assume that when multiple people use the same terms, we actually mean the same thing. Many a “workshop” project has started without a clear definition of what was actually expected – in clarifying detail. This is what leads to misunderstanding and scope creep.

Lack of definition dooms many a project (and leads to serious loss of $$). Your department has experienced this, right? It’s a common pitfall when new trainers are drawn from the field sales force, and they have no on-boarding training in how to manage projects and vendors.

Project definition is one of the key issues we address in the Project/Vendor Management workshop that I provide to my Life Sciences Commercial Training clients. There are 6 vital elements to project definition that will determine whether a project stays on track – or goes off the rails.

proj-definition

One way to help ensure project success is to be sure that your sales managers understand all that goes into project definition, and that they are pro-actively equipped to map out ahead of time exactly what is being developed. That is one of the main emphases of the workshop.

Contact us here at Impactiviti to discuss how we can help your department move toward best practices in project and vendor management (AskSteve@Impactiviti.com; 973-947-7429).

See also: 5 Compelling Reasons to provide Project Management Training

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I recently had a wonderful conversation with a smart professional in our industry whom I’ve known for years, Kari Gearhart. Kari had a long career in commercial pharma (much of it with Merck), and was heavily involved in many facets of corporate training during that time.

karigBut, as she started to look ahead at new career options – either within the industry, or potentially after retirement – she realized the importance of expanding her network. Not only within the narrower circle of her company or industry, but also in other areas of professional and personal interest.

Kari and I had a number of talks over the years about these transitions, and when she was ready to retire from Merck, she had created a robust network of other people who shared her interest in professional development. This led to a board member position within the Healthcare Business Women’s Association (HBA); strategic alliances (and referral relationships) with like-minded others; and an opportunity to build her own consulting practice. An important part of this transition was to create the space and the time to pursue her passion in women’s leadership development and in particular a program called Fit-to-Lead that she co-developed with a colleague. The program focuses on making the connection between taking on a significant fitness challenge (e.g. Triathlon), and leadership growth.

According to Kari, it was the outside volunteering opportunities (through HBA and other groups) that led to the most fruitful connections as she planned out the next phase of her professional and personal life. Many of us, as we get older, begin to pay more attention to “legacy passions” brewing within us – those things that we want to accomplish which may have little to do with the next step on the corporate ladder. Kari’s desire to impact others compelled her to start exploring these new avenues, even as she continued her work at Merck.

One of the joys of her current status is that Kari now has more room to explore, to be open-minded, and to let opportunities take shape at a more organic pace. Her “master plan” during this phase of her life has lots of flexibility built into it, and many of those avenues of exploration come via her growing network.

Careful financial planning and long-term thinking about how she wanted to evolve into new opportunities kept Kari from being lost in the cold after leaving corporate life, a fate which befalls many who retire or are involuntarily downsized. In fact, within days of catching up with Kari, I sat down with a gentleman whose many years in the industry came to an abrupt end, and he had to ruefully admit that he had not pro-actively built a wide network ahead of time, or explored other potential options before being suddenly set adrift.

Kari and I concluded our talk with several summary points for all of our colleagues to consider:

  • Build a broad network NOW, before you need it (hint: some of your best potential contacts will be on the vendor side; in adjacent roles/companies; and in volunteer roles). Connect to, and cultivate, pro-active networkers.
  • Talk to people who can help you think differently. If need be, do some strengths assessments and hire a professional coach for a season.
  • Get in touch with your legacy passions. What do you want to accomplish in your latter years? How can you plan backwards from that future to make it happen?

I will add this, from my experience – making weak ties with hundreds of people (such as LinkedIn connections) cannot hold a candle to cultivating strong ties with a handful of smart, pay-it-forward people. They are the ones who will go to bat for you and make things happen. Successful networking is not merely a numbers game – it’s primarily about quality and authenticity.

There is no corporate safety net anymore, right? Start building your own opportunity network.

More in the Impactiviti Interview series:

Training Journey – From Major Pharma to Startup

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

Development of Field Leadership at Gilead Sciences – “Touchpoints”

Lessons from the Dark Side

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Here in the Life Sciences training arena, we have a steady flow of people moving from the field to the home office, often involving a rotation in Sales Training.

This can be a great thing for professional development.

However, one the areas of need often pinpointed for on-boarding and developmental training is Project/Vendor Management. See the graphic below:

pm-train-2

Why is Project Management competency so important? Here are 5 reasons:

  1. Sales people moving into roles of training/management have been trained in selling skills, but rarely in operational/process skills like Project Management.
  2. Managing projects and vendors is a high-profile activity involving lots of budget dollars. Failed execution can deeply impact the reputation of the trainer and the department.
  3. PM training equips training managers with communication skills, and collaboration strategies, that will carry over into all subsequent leadership roles.
  4. Those new to managing projects and vendors need proven tools, procedures, and frameworks in order to succeed.
  5. PM training provides a standardized set of processes and a common language so that the entire department can reinforce best practices.

Successfully managing projects and vendors is learning, in a collaborative environment, how to move an initiative forward from A to B. This is a much needed corporate skill, and should not be left to chance or good intentions. Focused training is required.

twoformspm

Of course, not all project management training is equal. Impactiviti has devoted years to developing and customizing modules that are precisely aligned to commercial life sciences training professionals. This training can be delivered live (on-site), or virtually (or both).

Contact us to discuss how we can help your department move toward best practices in project and vendor management (AskSteve@Impactiviti.com).

 

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The Star Wars Rogue One movie comes out this week, so what better time to discuss moving over to the “Dark Side” than today?

(for those not yet in the know, sometimes training professionals within life sciences companies take on new career roles with vendor-providers. This is, tongue-in-cheek, referred to as moving to the Dark Side!)

darkside

In the Life Sciences industry, there’s a close collaboration between people in Training and Development departments, and their outside vendors. In fact, many people cross over from one side to another at points in their career – some for a season, and others permanently.

 Life is not the same on both sides of this fence. We discussed what it is like to launch a consultancy in an earlier post, but for this article, I’ve interviewed three industry professionals who have worked on both the client and the vendor side. Here is the question we’re working with: what are the main lessons learned about the nature of work once we leave the training department and join the “Dark Side”?

andreapagnozziAccording to Andrea Pagnozzi (who has done multiple stints in training within pharma and medical device companies, and also worked for a time with a training vendor), one of the biggest realizations was how many people, and moving parts, were involved in developing training on the vendor side. While clients within T&D departments only see a few faces (typically an account manager and a project manager), there is, in fact, a whole host of professionals involved in a tightly-choreographed dance behind the scenes. Most vendors don’t burden their clients with all those details, and rightly so; however, it is important to remember that every change or delay in a project has ripple effects in the workflow behind the scenes.

Having worked on the vendor side for many years, I know about this first hand. To help clients understand, I often show a picture of the inner workings of a clock – you know, the old-fashioned kind with lots of gears – to build awareness that there is just as much complexity and collaboration on a project on one side of the fence as there is on the other. That’s why a detailed project plan is so important – it keeps everyone on track so that the development process does not spin out of control.

davidboyleDavid Boyle, who has worn a variety of hats within large life sciences companies as well as with training vendors, stated that he has ended up learning far more about learning development from being on the vendor side. Those who cycle into training roles in pharma/biotech/med device organizations often only receive a bare minimum amount of training in project management and instructional design, and many times are not empowered to take a holistic view of existing training assets compared to the short-term necessities of the project at hand. As an outside supplier, David has found that he can often take a more strategic view of any given project and approach the needs more thoroughly. This underscores how important it can be to allow vendors to serve as strategic partners, and to bring their expertise and outside view to bear. This approach can end up saving enormous amounts of time and effort.

sueiannoneSue Iannone has occupied many leadership roles in major training organizations over the years, having worked on countless initiatives both small and large. Recently, Sue took on a leadership role with a vendor/partner, and her input to me revolved around how absolutely crucial it is (for both sides!) to arrive at a very clear project definition. Most of the time, we tend to have a basket of problems on our minds, which, when unloaded on a vendor, may lead to a lack of clarity. Sue suggests a strategic definition session when appropriate, perhaps including a whiteboard, to try to narrow down the scope of the project and arrive at the true strategic business imperatives. This approach helps clients to get exactly what they need.

Those who know me well know that I often promote the phrase, “You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in.” One of the most valuable roles a vendor can play is to bring outside perspective and holistic thinking. All of us get too involved in our own forest and trees, and working more closely with smart and collaborative vendors in the definition process will always lead to greater success.

One interesting point that those on the vendor/partner side bring up is that the opportunity set is different when working with provider companies. Vendors tend to be much leaner, and generally value creativity and initiative more than conformity and narrow focus. The pace is faster, the hats you wear are more varied, and the “cocoon” of infrastructure that one often enjoys on the inside of a client company just isn’t there. Moving in one direction or the other can be scary for some, but refreshing and empowering for others. In either case, it’s a great growing experience!

More in the Impactiviti Interview series:

Training Journey – From Major Pharma to Startup

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

Development of Field Leadership at Gilead Sciences – “Touchpoints”

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How are they doing?

It’s the question we’re always asking in training. We want to know if development is occurring among our employees – but what about those who have moved up the ladder into sales leadership positions?

Turns out they need that feedback, too. And, at Gilead Sciences, Commercial L&D has implemented what are called RD Development “Touchpoints” to help Regional Directors know how they’re progressing in professional development (note: “Regional Directors” at Gilead are equivalent to “District Managers” at many other companies).

c-padovanoI asked Corey Padovano, Senior Director of Commercial Learning and Development, to outline how the process works.

Corey described the three phases of training for Regional Directors that Gilead has designed; Phase 1 is focused on understanding and leading yourself; Phase 2 on leading teams/direct reports; and Phase 3 on leading across the organization. Each of those phases has appropriate courses such as Emotional Intelligence, Situational Leadership, Influence without Authority, etc.

Typically, these phases of training occur as 3-day live events, with 6-9 month periods between.

So, how to gauge progress along the way? Gilead employs a 360-degree methodology to get unbiased feedback for these “touchpoints,” including:

-3rd party conversational interview with each RD

-3rd party conversational interview with Senior RDs

-Survey to direct reports

-Survey to peers/stakeholders

This information is aggregated, then presented in a constructive way to help RDs identify levels of progress. The touchpoint process refers to specific curriculum topics and asks for ratings on a simple 3-point scale:

  • Understands the material
  • Applies the concepts
  • Demonstrates mastery

A straightforward, 2-page report is generated. The process provides very specific feedback for Senior RDs to coach their charges, and provides the additional benefit of looping back input to the training department on how to optimize the curriculum for actual needs (business acumen and strategic thinking are popping up regularly).

Was there resistance? Some, at first – until the methodology was understood and the results generated. Now it is a much-appreciated part of the professional development process at Gilead.

With this approach now in place for RDs, future potential applications may include first-line and second-line leadership in HQ positions.

How is your company monitoring and encouraging the development of its field leadership? I’d love to hear your comments and input!

More in the Impactiviti Interview series:

Training Journey – From Major Pharma to Startup

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

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jsjovallI recently sat down with John Sjovall (past-President of LTEN) to interview him about his transition from heading up T&D at Daiichi-Sankyo, to working with a small startup (Collegium Pharmaceuticals). If you’ve ever been curious about what such a move might be like….well, read on!

Profile of Collegium Pharmaceuticals:

Collegium as a commercial organization is a little over one year old, with approximately 230 total employees. The sales force is about 160 sales reps and managers, broken out into three different teams: Therapeutic, Institutional, and LTC.

Collegium is focused on developing and launching products that use a proprietary DETERx manufacturing process. DETERx takes a drug API and makes it extended release (Q12 dosing), and manipulation resistant. In late June of 2016 the company launched its first product: Xtampza ER is an oxycodone opioid indicated for the treatment of chronic pain requiring around the clock treatment.

What has been Collegium’s biggest challenge launching this new drug for pain? 

Launching a new product and new commercial entity at the same time, particularly with a product in the opioid pain space, has been a very interesting and challenging opportunity. Besides healthcare organizations that are stricter than ever in controlling their formularies, we have found that access to the prescriptions in pharmacies is a real challenge due to the nature of the product. Pharmacy chains are now less inclined to auto-ship new products at launch, especially for opioids. In addition CII opioids require vault space (which is limited) at local pharmacies, and they have monthly opioid quotas for CII’s as well; it is a very intensive “hands-on process” where sales representatives must walk HCP offices and local pharmacies through the steps to make sure that prescriptions are available when they are written. An account management approach to sales is a mandatory mindset for the sales representative in an opioid market.

Lots of people who have been in larger pharmaceutical companies dream of moving over to a startup. The perception is lots of freedom and excitement. What’s the reality?

Joining a start-up has been very exciting, enjoyable…and a challenge as well. I describe it as building a rocket ship after it has already taken off from the launch pad. You are building internal processes and systems at the same time you are fielding sales forces and launching products. The pace is fast, hours are long, and the whole adventure is very fulfilling. One caution I would append is to go into it with your eyes wide open; things are lean, budgets and personnel are tight!

For example, when I was at my last company I had a training team of 30+; teams were focused on new hire training, training development and training technologies. At a startup it was initially a team of three (me, myself and I). Yes, I was doing everything – strategizing, designing and editing training materials and content, while at the same time finding and launching an LMS and other training technologies. I was able to add a second position last spring four months before launch. If you are not willing to work in an environment where you need to roll up your sleeves and be a doer and planner, then a start-up may not be for you.

You joined Collegium Pharmaceuticals as they were preparing for their first launch. What was most surprising to you about the experience?

The biggest surprise was the need to be flexible and build the process when it is needed, because it doesn’t exist. At an established organization, processes and procedures are embedded and are already part of the organizational culture. In a start-up, you have small teams with everybody engaged in building their own rocket ship. For instance, Medical-Legal review may be a brand-new process, so you have to make sure you understand what someone is intending, because they may not be available later when you may need additional clarification.

Of course, there are differences between very small start-ups and more mature companies, but what are the issues that are pretty much the same? 

Interestingly enough, there are many aspects that are quite similar. The same set of priorities drive large and small companies in our industry. Despite the size difference, a SmartCar and a stretch limousine fundamentally work the same way.

The time and cost to build a workshop or a product learning module is the same whether you are building it for 10 or 10,0000. The assumption that we are small and nimble may allow decisions to be made quickly; but the execution/process time is still the same. And effective communication is just as critical; the fact that you are small doesn’t mean teammates will absorb information or know what you are doing. You still need to keep stakeholders informed and check in that your activities are tracking with the organization’s priorities and initiatives.

What have you learned about yourself as a professional through this new role?

The first thing I learned was that I could be more flexible; those who know me understand that I like to follow the process and have a plan in place! In the past I liked to start planning the training for a product launch 18 to 24 months ahead of time; in this new role, I did it in less than 11 months, including the onboarding and training of 142 new sales hires! “You can teach an old dog new tricks!” I have had fun this year dusting off old unused skills and knowledge, and creatively applying all those years of experience into a new and dynamic setting.

More in this series:

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

Impactiviti is devoted to improving the craft of life sciences training, through strategic consulting, vendor recommendations, and network-building.

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