Creating Collaboration Across Pharmaceutical Marketing and Research

Ask a sales & marketing guy about the value of being collaborative – are you kidding? "I earn my bonus myself!"

Ask a researcher to share widely her insights into what could be the most important advance in medicine for the decade before she's published? Not likely……"I've got my tenure to consider". There lay our dilemma – collaboration can mean giving up part of what you deserve . But should it?

Modern medicine and the pharmaceutical industry are synonymous with innovation. Society has come to expect continued giant leaps forwards in medicine – disease control if not cure is a daily ambition for all health care providers.

Technology has made great strides – great advances should be achievable. Why are they seemingly slowing down? Could it be “the human factor"?

As the New Products Commercialization group in a major pharmaceutical company, my team and I were the interface point between research and development and the commercial world. To be honest, three years ago we were a cost center – we had no part to play in any giant leaps forward in medicine because we were too busy competing internally, pointing fingers and making others (mainly the R&D folks) wrong. If we are honest, we were only getting in the way.

A & R’s Leadership Development program moved us from arguably zero productivity, to a strong belief that anything is possible. Our department was working hard and producing assessments of the market potential of new products, but members of our organization in R & D, different countries, marketing and management were reaching separate conclusions based on their own gut reactions. So our work was having little if any real impact.

As a result of working with A & R, our function has become a value-added asset to the organization. We produce information which our organization relies upon in making strategic decisions. We promote, not stifle innovation. We are in alignment with our organization’s mission and able to realize the value of new products in a shorter time frame. Senior management comes to us when something important is needed. Finally, we’ve elevated what is possible beyond what we ever imagined.

How did we get there? It was conceptually simple but surprisingly challenging to execute; we:
  • Learned how to listen
  • Set clear, aggressive, shared stretch goals
  • Developed a collaborative process for bringing new products to market
  • Learned skills for collaborating and communicating in competitive situations
We also learned how to transform frustrations, irritations and challenges into opportunities to learn in cooperation with the 'self' or intuitive knowing level inside all of us.

Before the A&R program, we collaborated effectively when everyone else was behaving collaboratively. We now also collaborate effectively when others are initially feeling competitive. Personal issues still surface, but they don’t run the show. We made this leap by transforming ourselves, and then our organization. I am looking forward to seeing where it goes from here. Anything is possible!

Agressive goals can be used to create a highly interactive, actionable-learning environment