Adapt or Die: Value Based Leadership Summit (April 2015)

Click here for Meeting Executive Summary (PDF file).

Adapt or Die Value Based Leadership Summit

West Point, April 16, 2015

In the fourth session of the “Adapt or Die” series, Zensights gathered nearly 30 Biopharma leaders for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour and leadership summit at the world-renowned United States Military Academy at West Point, in West Point, New York. The leadership summit featured an inspiring keynote speech by Lieutenant General Rick Lynch and insightful leadership lessons by General Ben Griffin, Mr. Joe Truitt, Dr. Francois Nader, and Mr. Ken Banta.

The highly successful Lieutenant General Rick Lynch has earned countless military accolades for the amazing service he has done for our country; leading and caring for thousands of men and women in the US Army. He is the author of the leadership book titled, “Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles From an American General.” From his meager beginnings, he has lived his life in the most impressive manner. He was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. Due to his intestinal fortitude to succeed he managed to earn himself a coveted spot at West Point. He first stepped foot on Academy grounds on July 2, 1973, and it solidified an already amazing young mans destiny. It was at West Point that Lt. General Lynch learned, in a very personal manner, how important the Cadet Honor Code is not only in the Army, but also in life; “A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.” This critical lesson along with the motto “Duty, Honor, Country,” remain cornerstones in his life. His exposure to a great mentor throughout his career, General Ben Griffin, helped to shape his distinguished 35 years in the Army.

Some Insights into Applying Value Based Leadership

As Lt. General Lynch commanded troops in the Army, he learned that one must ask three questions to exemplify “Duty, Honor and Country:”

  • Are we doing the right things?
  • Are we doing things right?
  • What are we missing?

In addition, drawing from spiritual leadership and the cadet’s prayer, Lt. General Lynch also learned that it is:

  • Always better to do the harder thing right, than the easier thing wrong.
  • When confronted by the truth, don’t succumb to hypocrisy or false pretense.
  • Never settle for the half-truth when the whole truth can be achieved.

It is critical to identify who the ‘people of value’ surrounding you are. Then ask yourself where do these values come from? As a result,
it is critical that you:

  • Identify what your personal values are – where do they come from and how important they are to you and your organization.
  • Determine how you communicate those values to your organization. 70% of communication stands on the listener. Are you living by those values? How are they being instilled in your people? Everyday something happens unforeseen and you must be the example.
  • Guide yourself with ethical decision-making – identify what you are missing? What do you pretend to know, but you really don’t know? The hope is that you leave with more values and more prepared to conduct yourself with more ethical decisions.

If your manager doesn’t reflect similar values you can be silent and proceed or remove yourself from that environment.

Adapt or Die Value Based Leadership Executive Panel:

1. What are the values that have been set up at work and are they at odds with your values?

Joe Truitt: As a mid-cap company, there isn’t always alignment in what we are trying to achieve with what shareholders want because there are a lot of short term investors. What we do understand is that we need to deliver a cure for Hepatitis C. We clearly put the patient at the center of our focus. We constantly remember that although we are doing advanced chemistry and biology, we want to do no harm to patients, rather we want to heal patients. We have core values in the company. We value innovation and we also try to instill tenacity in our people. We don’t punish risk takers (excluding anyone that puts patients at risk). Values can evolve over time. I came from a hard working family with a great work ethic. Our grandma made us go to church and I grew up in a tough neighborhood where loyalty was very important. I served in the Marines and they gave me core values. They expect you to carry out values for life. I have worked at companies where values where reinforced and rewarded.

2. Do the values learned in the Military carry over to the private sector or have you evolved into other values?

General Ben Griffin: You are a very impressive group. Always build upon what has gotten you to this place. I don’t speak about religion and politics. You come in with values. I am an eagle scout and out of all of the awards earned, I kept that award. You form values from your parents, church, school and friends. Since retiring, I have started 3 small businesses. I work with 4 to 5 companies, and also worked with major corporations. I only work with people that I want to work with. I am not sure that you change your values but you learn more each day with your interactions with people. The most successful companies and leaders have very high values and readily share them with you. You have two choices, you do it or you don’t do it. And you must be a good listener. I applaud the development of smart phones but you must turn off the phone when meeting with people or it shows that you are not listening to them.

  • Treat people with respect.
  • Do what’s right, legally, ethically and morally.
  • Give a 100%. We don’t train to be in second place.

The most successful leaders live by these principles whether simple or sophisticated. I like John Wooden’s mantra of always do the little things right.

3. How do you turn a failing organization into a winning one? What values did you focus on that turned NPS into a success?

Dr. Francois Nader: I joined NPS when they had issues with the FDA and $180 million dollars was due in 18 months. When I joined the company it was worth $150 million dollars. I joined because I saw value in its products and people. I didn’t have a clue how to turn it around, but knew that I could do it. Investors wanted us to act first and then think. However, we needed to stop and think. I saw value on what we had and I created a new business model. We picked up rare diseases. The second part was the human part, as we went from 450 people to 40 people. This was not pleasing and it was very painful for employees but we treated employees with respect. I sat in my office and tried to solve for the “what.” This means that I asked myself the simple question of how I want the company to operate. I remembered where I enjoyed my career most and identified the values that drove me to be fulfilled and aimed for that. In addition, I put the patient at center since I am a physician. To me, integrity and respect are non-negotiable. At all times, personal accountability is extremely important, so the buck stops there. Excellence is nonnegotiable as well. We added teamwork since you can’t do something alone. But we were missing one thing, so we added having fun. For years, these were the values that we had. As the company grew, we didn’t change values. Finally, we added entrepreneurial spirit. We recruited people that lived these values. We took action on people that didn’t exemplify the values. I had to dismiss two direct reports that didn’t treat people with respect. I don’t believe in having plaques on the walls; the minute that it takes to read it, means that we are not living what’s on the
plaque. We included values in personal appraisals and this was binary. Either you are meeting or not meeting the values. So we put them into action and every new employee would sit in the CEO’s office and tell me who they are as a person and then I would tell them how to be successful in the organization. This was focused across the executive team and cascaded down to achieve credibility. But you can lose that credibility in half a second if, as leaders, we don’t abide to the values all of the time. When the patient is at the center then we make decisions on whether or not it is good for the patient and does it abide with values? We took the company from $150 million to $7 billion in 7 years. There isn’t a right or wrong approach. We used a model and it worked for us. You must work in an environment that fits your value system.

4. Which value was the hardest to implement?

Dr. Francois Nader: Most difficult was excellence and my high expectations for myself and others.

5. How do you balance wanting to do the right thing with delivering the right thing, especially when your values are at odds with your supervisor’s values? Do I quit or do I influence?

Lt. General Ben Griffin: In the end, you have to live with yourself so you should assess if it is a personality or value system issue? If you stay in an organization long enough, you will run into someone that you don’t align with. Do you adjust? You must identify who is your customer and who is your boss. Do you mold or do you mold that person? Is it right or wrong? If it is unethical, you go away from it. One thing I find interesting, some young commanders want to point out what’s wrong, blame the previous person. People respect you more when you stand up and say I’m not doing that.

Joe Truitt: It was really hard in the military, when you have a change in command. You don’t have any recourse in the military. In a corporate setting, the industry is big enough that you don’t have to work in that circumstance. I experienced something similar and we left and started something much better. I interview people on the values to make sure that it fits into our company’s value system.

6. Do you recommend going to the next level up and escalating an issue that conflicts with the organization’s stated value system from an ethics perspective?

Dr. Francois Nader: It is not necessary to go to the next level. Identify who has the influence, could be HR, CEO or a peer, etc. Simplify it and ask if I can live with myself. You always have a choice. Think about what you can do about it. Can you influence or change it? It is critical to have honesty, courage, tenacity, transparency and humility. You must master the art of crisis management and problem solving. Check the facts first. Copy good traits of great leaders and avoid the bad traits. Trust is the glue of organizations.


Zensights Gathers Top Executives, Philanthropists, and Celebrities to Explore How Support for Veterans Fits Within Corporate Social Responsibility

Click here for Meeting Executive Summary (PDF file)

Zensights Gathers Top Executives to Discuss Adaptive Strategies:

Why is it that an industry in the business of making people healthier has such an image problem? And what role can philanthropy, sustainability, diversity, and service play in enhancing that image? A recent article in The PatientView Quarterly shared the results of a survey of 600 international, national and regional patient groups. Of eight healthcare sectors, the pharmaceutical industry ranked 7th! The industry’s reputation trailed behind retail pharmacists, medical device companies, private healthcare services, biotechs, not-for-profit health insurers, and generic drug makers.

In the third of its “Adapt or Die” meeting series, Zensights gathered biopharma leaders, philanthropists, celebrities, and experts in corporate social responsibility. Zensights departed from its traditional format and assembled a panel comprised of leaders from outside the Pharma industry. During a fascinating evening, the panel shared unique perspectives on the links between corporate social responsibility (“CSR”), employee morale, philanthropy, partnerships, and the bottom line. Specifically, the evening focused on post 9/11 veterans — who they are, what has been done, what else can be done, and why it is so important to do more.

The Keynote was delivered by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Rick Lynch, an expert on Adaptive Leadership. Rick shared experiences from his days leading troops in the military, and how those leadership principles could and should be applied to business. He talked about engaged leadership – one of his principles is, “love your subordinates like you love your own children.” Determine what they are great at, what they are struggling with, and help them succeed. If you care about them, urged Rick, really take the time to understand them, and they will work really hard at getting the job done! Rick also talked about building a diverse team.

Too often you will find leaders who surround themselves with teams that look and act a lot like them. He emphasized the strength of teams that are built with people with diverse experiences and skill sets.

After Rick’s talk about leadership principles, he shifted gears to speak about post 9/11 veterans. He shared some eye opening statistics, summarized key issues, and most importantly, offered several ways companies and individuals can help.

Rick shared some eye opening statistics, summarized key issues, and most importantly offered several ways companies and individuals can help post 9/11.


Who they are:

2.3M all of whom volunteered to serve
(no draft since 1973)
58% married with children
99% high school graduates
72% with some college
94% proud of their service
60% under the age of 34

Current 9/11 Veterans Issues:

50,000+ have visible wounds
150,000+ with invisible wounds
13-20% have been diagnosed with PTSD
1/3 don’t get help because of stigma associated with mental issues
48,000 are homeless
9.9% unemployed

Organizations can help by:

Hire post 9/11 vets
Hire post 9/11 vets spouses
Help with transition by developing useful skills (GE has a major program). Know who the vets are and show them you care. Lead them to help as required.
Help with home building / home renovation programs (Gary Sinise Foundation, Carrington Charitable Foundation).

Notable Quote

“I found the meeting to be excellent. I was really impressed with Rick – his willingness and desire to give back is truly inspirational and he is very down to earth. Gary’s passion was contagious! No promises, but I am going to go back and have conversations with our leadership team to see what I need to do to be the executive sponsor for including Gary’s foundation in our list of charitable foundations. Thanks again for including me…..I look forward to seeing you again soon.”

As Rick concluded his talk, he introduced his good friend Gary Sinise, Actor and Philanthropist, and Founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation. The mission of the Gary Sinise Foundation is to serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. This is achieved by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.

Gary has spent his life supporting veterans, gaining unique notoriety after playing “Lt. Dan” in the film, Forrest Gump. Giving back to those who sacrifice for our nation and encouraging others to do the same has long been Gary’s personal quest. “Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” says Sinise. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security.While we can never do enough to show our gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”

Gary was joined in a panel discussion by Winell Herron, Group Vice President for giant Texas/Mexico retailer H-E_B,, and Bruce Rose, CEO of the Carrington Companies, a real estate financial services company. The panel was moderated by Ted Deutsch, President of the communications firm Taft and Partners.

Key takeaways from the panel:

  • Check book philanthropy (writing a check without any involvement of time, energy, commitment) while it is very much appreciated, it is NOT enough. Much more is accomplished when people are involved. Examples included employees working at charitable events such as serving food at military hospital events, flying alongside and aiding wounded veterans for treatment and/or races, and visiting wounded veterans in hospitals. Contact charitable entities directly to learn how your organization can get involved.
  • Families of veterans also need our help. It is often easy to overlook the sacrifices being made for families of veterans. They are often facing financial hardship, housing needs, and overall lack of support systems.
  • It is important to carefully evaluate how well a foundation is being run. Both the Gary Sinise Foundation and Carrington Charitable Foundations are run with very little overhead. As a result, the money gets to the people who need it most, the veterans and their families.
  • Corporations can also help by hiring veterans. The leadership principles outlined in Rick’s talk are highly transferrable to business. There is a large pool of unemployed veterans, well trained in the areas of leadership and discipline, which would be an asset to corporations.

As the event closed, Gary Sinise summed up the theme of the night well:

“While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”

For those interested in learning more about the Gary Sinise Foundation, please go to:

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

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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