Adapt or Die: Life Science Leaders Examine Industry Trends (September 2014)

Click here for Meeting Executive Summary (PDF file)

Zensights Gathers Top Executives to Scan BioPharma Leadership, Organizational, and Operational Transformations

The Union League, Philadelphia, PA September 11, 2014

Major scientific and technological advances promise treatment options only previously imagined in science fiction. Personalized medicine, biologics for cancer and rare diseases have become more profitable than traditional molecular therapies. Policy change makes care available to millions more (Affordable Care Act) and incentivizes coordinated care (Accountable Care Organizations). Today, ~60% of sales are from the top six markets (US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, and Canada), but BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) is maturing and will grow ~8% YOY to ~$1.6T by 2020. These anticipated global demographic changes will double the “middle class” by 2025, increasing demands for medicine.

In the second of a series, Zensights gathered 27 BioPharma Leaders, Suppliers, and
Industry Experts for an executive summit focused on adaptive strategies to overcome these industry challenges. The meeting featured a presentation by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Rick Lynch, an expert on Adaptive Leadership. Rick engaged participants in a conversation focused on the need to adapt to changing circumstances, while also applying his nine Leadership Principles to the field of healthcare.

While most marketers talk about the need to “innovate to succeed”, Rick prefers the term “adapt.” Rick believes, “The art of adaptation comes down to much more than a simple set of rules or guidelines. It comes down to the very roots of who you are, the foundation you’ve built, the confidence and trust you’ve inspired, and your ability to truly lead your work force, team, or troops with their best interests in mind.” Emphasizing the modification of strategies and tactics based on changing conditions, he adds, “Adapting as a leader and leading through adaptation takes much more of the same fortitude and positive attitude- only there’s a lot more on the line. This isn’t just about you. This is about everything you’ve done, and everything you’re people have done. This is about success vs. failure. This is about your company, your organization, your country- and whether it’ll live to see another day. Adaptation is the key to survival. And leadership is the key to adaptation.” Prior to his conclusion, Rick noted that the men and women present in the room on this evening have the opportunity to adapt, and accomplish great things that can positively affect the future of healthcare.

Following Rick’s presentation, our Zensight’s Executive Panel began to apply his “Adaptive Leadership” principles to the rapidly changing healthcare landscape. The panel was moderated by William Looney, Editor in Chief, Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine, and included Asaf Evenhaim, Co-Founder and CEO, Crossix Solutions, Scotty Bowman, Group Vice President, Shire, and William Trombetta, Ph.D., Professor and Author.

Which P is most important? They all are! Historically, it has been good enough to focus on providers in order to successfully launch a new product. Not anymore. There needs to be similar focus on patients, payors, and pharmacies. Depending on the type of product being launched, the balance of focus (resources!) may shift toward one of the P’s. Interestingly, partnering with the right ACO could address all constituents at once! But, not all ACOs are created equal- both in their demographics, and how well they are run.

Another P- Pricing! Commercial payors, government, GPOs, employer groups, consumer groups, all need to become part of the pricing strategies. Outcomes have also become an increased driver in a pricing strategy; especially as the majority of FDA approvals have shifted from “me-too blockbusters” to rare disease, disease modifying biologics, etc. If you are not sure of the impact of some of these, look no further than some of the payor formulary decisions being listed as a “material impact disclosure statements” for publicly traded companies. One thing is for certain, if your drug is viewed as a commodity, you can expect downward pricing pressure to be applied from all constituents.

The View From Wall Street – Where Did The Hockey Stick Go? Blockbuster launches used to be the norm. Along with those blockbuster launches, stock market analysts became accustomed to predictable “hockey stick growth curves”. The majority of launches today require data driven, predictive analytics to identify appropriate target audiences- both physicians and patients. And once the pharmaceutical companies identify the right audience, the game has changed once again. It’s not enough to “just provide the pill” there is an expectation that services will extend beyond the pill. Services like education, adherence/compliance aids, ongoing monitoring, etc. Not only can that affect the slope of the growth curve, it has significant implications on the commercialization (i.e.- investment levels) approach.

The changing landscape of healthcare is creating new challenges and opportunities never before seen. The success of organizations will be determined by the ability of leaders to adapt to changing circumstances and capitalize on new ideas. This meeting benefitted BioPharma by allowing for an exchange of ideas between a diverse group of people including Rick Lynch, Retired Lt. General from the US Army, thought leaders from the pharmaceutical Industry, executives from pharmaceutical companies, and entrepreneurs from healthcare service companies. The future of healthcare will need continued collaboration of this kind in order to thrive and ultimately help patients around the globe.

Adapt or Die: Life Science Leaders Examine Trends

Click here for Meeting Executive Summary (PDF file)

Zensights Gathers Top Executives to Scan BioPharma Leadership, Organizational, and Operational Transformations

The median cost of getting a drug to market is exceeding $350 million1, numbers so staggering it risks sustainability of the BioPharma business model. Despite the costs, and perhaps because of them, BioPharma mergers and acquisitions are on the upswing2. Sellers seek to divest non-core assets while buyers hope to hedge fledgling R&D pipelines. Amid this change, BioPharma Leadership, Operational Systems, and Company Cultures built for prior decades strain over modern demands being placed on them.

In May, Zensights gathered twenty BioPharma Leaders, Suppliers, and Industry Experts for an executive summit focused on these industry challenges. The meeting featured a keynote address by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Rick Lynch, an expert on Adaptive Leadership and its potential applications in the Pharmaceutical Industry. As highlighted in his most recently published book, Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles from an American General, Rick honed nine Leadership Principles while serving as the Commanding General, responsible for 163 Army Installations worldwide with an annual budget of $12 billion and a workforce of 120,000. His key advice to Leaders in attendance included several gems from his personal experience:

Focus on opportunities, not obstacles. “It can be done.” Rick oversaw the army’s technology transition to digitization for “situational awareness” on the battlefield. Talk about a Big Data problem, it was literally life or death to know where you are, your buddies are, and enemy is on the battlefield. While there were many challenges with implementing the new systems, Rick saw the obstacles for what they really were: opportunities. He encourages us to look at the long-term when implementing things that give us situational awareness as it’s those things that truly enable organizations to move forward.

Decide when to decide. “Take time to think.” Rick led the army’s Third Infantry Division during the Iraq War. On the President’s orders, for 25,000 soldiers, Rick had to shift from a six month preparation plan to a combat plan in six weeks!  There were hundreds of tasks, including advanced training exercises that required perfection. How did he tackle the impossible? He focused on the most critical tasks, those they could accomplish in six weeks, while preparing a timeline to confront the rest while in transit. He focused his team, not on a crisis, but on prioritized preparation. Leaders get teams to doing the right things, and doing things right to stay focused.

Look down, not up. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Like many leaders, Rick often met with those in his command reviewing operational and infrastructure issues. With a workforce of tens-of-thousands, there were unending challenges. He held town hall meetings to talk directly to those dedicated to the cause and advocated strongly for having work-life balance. Rick backed up the rhetoric by establishing the “6 p.m. dinnertime rule.” The entire workforce, military and civilian alike, were to complete their required work and honor nightly dinner with their families. Leaders stand up for what they believe in and make lives better, even while going through tough times as an organization.

Building on Rick’s leadership principles, Zensights also featured an Executive Panel discussion focused on challenges BioPharma organizations face during transformations: Monica Tellado, Gilead, Vice President of US Commercial Operations; Manish Sood, Reltio, CEO and Founder; Sharon Clarke, kaléo: Vice President of Commercial Operations.

Many are calling on BioPharma to innovate with new thinking, new approaches, and new efforts to address rapid change.  The panelists addressed how they are equipping their organizations to be ready for adopting agility and speed, keeping their business running while shifting the status quo. Highlights of the discussion included multiple themes shared from the panelist’s industry experience:

Mergers and Acquisitions: Significant change management and leadership challenges are associated with bringing two different organizations together. Management groups must ensure they have the right capabilities, resources, and processes onboard. Each panelist cited challenges with integrating technologies and leadership priorities. Alignment of corporate cultures were top-of-mind for leaders acquiring new teams and assets.

Leadership and Operational Structures: With the speed of change, the panelists employed special tactics to identify and prioritize what’s required to lead in their organizations. Aligned with many of the lessons shared by Rick Lynch, these leaders sought to identify the most important hazards or opportunities early and formulate appropriate actions. While all agreed that we’re in dynamic times, leaders are not necessarily held to new standards, but are expected to accelerate change in new ways.

Company Culture: With few companies doing everything “in-house,” BioPharma culture is changing. Even traditional competitors have teamed up to tackle R&D challenges. Consortiums, alliances, mutual foundations, and crowdsourcing are among the “new” approaches for collaboration. Done well, these relationships allow companies to share both risk and reward with external partners. Many leaders find themselves tapping into a small group of talented team members again-and-again to lead key initiatives. This can limit the volume and speed by which things get done. The panelists pointed to a key solution in “democratizing information” and sharing appropriate information at the right time, with the right groups across the company.

The quest is to build organizations that win today and are prepared for the future. BioPharma industry ingenuity must forge new ways of collaborating internally and externally to accomplish this change. This meeting benefited BioPharma attendees by identifying modern ways to broker change across multiple partners and suppliers while delivering life changing solutions.


1. M. Herper (2013) “The Cost Of Creating A New Drug Now $5 Billion, Pushing Big Pharma To Change”, Forbes.
2. Giovannetti, et al. (2014, January) “The Shifting Balance of Firepower” Firepower Index Growth Gap Report, EY