This is another good article from the Innovate on Purpose blog. The basic premise of the post is "To Innovate is to Choose". There are always far more good ideas than the resources necessary to fund and develop the ideas. Therefore, idea selection is about making choices in the face of limited information which could be wrong in hindsight. That's one of the first problems with innovation - we ask people to make hard choices with limited information about products or services that may, or may not, be successful. But, making the choice is necessary to realizing the success.
Innovation has another challenge to most executives when it comes to choice: every choice he or she makes is risky and uncertain. Most executives are uncomfortable in this situation and seek to limit options and choices, seeking clarity and safety, or at least consensus. This is why most "innovation" seem so bland. If you eliminate risk, you eliminate true innovation. Perhaps beggars can't be choosers, but innovators must be.
This leads me to examine Roche. I've written here often that I think Roche is the leading innovator among Big Pharma companies. They are one of the few to put a stake in the ground and state that they will not pursue follow-on biologics or generics as a key strategy for their future. They are an innovative drug company and proud of it.
Today's news about Roche deciding to cut its RNAi program may be another piece of evidence on their innovation leadership. As the first paragraph indicates, resources are scarce and the best innovators make the hard choices about where to put their money to do the most good. Roche has decided it has better places to invest than in RNAi therapeutics. This choice may or may not turn out to be correct - but it is another example of them having the resolve to make the hard choice - even after investing $331 M in Alnylam in 2007. The In the Pipeline blog asks if other Big Pharma companies invested in RNAi wish they had the stones to do the same?
The willingness to make the hard choices is a defining characteristic of the successful innovator.
Posted by Bruce Lehr November 17th 2010.