I've come across a new blog that I really really like and highly recommend called "Innovate on Purpose". That's a good blog name by the way.
In his most recent post, Jeffrey Phillips talks about shifting roles of the workforce in companies in relation to innovation. He (and his colleagues) have developed a model that recognizes 4 main roles or perspectives within a firm that predict its proclivity toward innovation. See post for more detailed descriptions.
Optimizers. Work with existing methods & models to eke out all efficiency.
Reacters. Are your organizational firefighters.
Forecasters. Your dreamers who focus on delivering tommorrow's promises.
Creators. Inventors of new products and services often ignoring current systems and processes. These are the folks who create new business models.
The post goes on to discuss that most large organizations have been dominated by optimizers in the 1990's and 2000's. These are the people who've worked on lean, Six Sigma, downsizing, outsourcing and generally have squeezed out the profit. Optimizers largely crowded out Reactors, Forecasters and Creators in most large organizations.
Now, we're in a real time of rapid change, with global competitors everywhere we turn, and need to crank out new ideas and deliver new solutions -- yesterday. Enter the Reactors. Reactors are dominant at most companies now largely due to massive changes in the environment. We all go to work to "fight fires".
This got me thinking. Does a typical Big Pharma company sound like one that would have heavily employed lean, Six Sigma, operational excellence, downsizing, outsourcing, profit optimization? Sound like any Company that you know?
And now, with new economic conditions, patent cliffs, failures in pipeline, global competiton from pharmerging markets, generics and biosimilars -- is it any wonder that many of these companies seem to be in Reacter mode? Somebody get the fire hose!
Most Pharma CEOs now seem to be talking about the need for innovation. Further in a recent poll of CEOs, these guys/gals identified "creativity" as most desirable characteristic needed in a Senior Manager - presumably to spur innovation. Big Pharma successfully runs on continued innovation from its pipeline - that's its life blood by definition. Yet, we let the pendulum swing too far and filled the company with Optimizers and Reacters.
All Companies need all 4 types of people. It is really a question of proportion to fit the times and the business model. Big Pharma needs innovation. It is well past the time to focus on getting more Forecasters and Creators on board -- and to actually listen to what they have to say. The Optimizers and Reacters are going to need to be reprogrammed to behave more like the Forecasters and Creators. This is particularly true in times of great Industry change and upheaval.
Some Optimizers are needed to help keep the business moving. Reacters are reacters - not much value added. The Forecasters and Creators will need to lead the way to new product pipelines, new business models, new partnerships and collaborations, and generally point the firm toward regaining a sustainable competitive position.
It's easy to see how Big Pharma cultivated Optimizers and Reactors over the past two decades. It's just as easy to see its time to make a change for the future. Those who do will become the market leaders of tommorrow. Better a Creator than Reactor be. Better a Forecaster than Optimizer be.
Posted by Bruce Lehr June 8th 2010.