4 Accelerate change with neuroscience
In stark contrast to advancements in technology and drug discovery, change approaches remain stubbornly old-school in most biopharmas: noisy, process-driven, and unfit for human consumption. Bringing approaches into line with the neuroscience of change offers significant upside, yet the price to do it commands a rarer currency: executive boldness.
The problem is that organizations often engineer change too late after deciding what initiatives to pursue, resulting in overlap and saturation for employees. It’s the equivalent of designing a therapy before analyzing patient data and ending up with duplicate drugs. At the brain level, another challenge is the temporary premise of change itself. For example, consider the signal that a generative AI pilot sends: “This is new. We’re not sure whether we’ll do it. We want you to invest your time and reputation to try it out.” Given the brain’s heavier predisposition to avoid threat than pursue reward, this change approach is flawed by design. Contrast this with a “test and learn” approach, which signals, “This is new, but we’re committed to improving HCP experience quality, and we’re equipping you to shape the pathway.” The first approach is laced with risk, but the second is bolstered with motivational drivers of certainty and choice.
Leading biopharmas understand that the human experience is constant, whereas traditional change approaches are points in time. The few executive sponsors who are prepared to say “no” to more are succeeding by producing change signals that cut through and by creating environments that send a more consistent message, translating to faster adoption, deeper embedding, and superior employee engagement and productivity.
5 Address succession challenges for critical pharma roles
Talent is the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry. However, few organizations (19%) are prepared to address a shortage of critical talent. Even fewer (14%) have succession plans for critical roles.
As biopharma companies expand and contract around portfolios in increasingly shorter cycles, they need to build talent strategy around critical roles to safeguard business continuity and fuel growth.
Traditional approaches are often inconsistent. They rely on crude measures such as leader judgment, individual visibility, and financial performance, often falling victim to assumptions, such as “our top 50 most senior people are surely our most critical.”
Critical roles and succession are often bolted on to talent strategy, whereas they should form the foundation; informing career, acquisition and total reward. Leading biopharmas assess critical roles against three categories of potential: strategic value (alignment to longer range priorities), business value (medium term continuity & growth), and role value (market scarcity). This perspective paints a fuller picture by considering financial and non-financial factors (e.g., new idea facilitation). For numerous biopharmas, this process has unearthed hidden existing talent, making this exercise attractive and often self-funding.
6 Integrate teams to strengthen commercialization
With 73% of physician interactions unsynchronized across medical and commercial field teams, global HCP satisfaction levels hover at an underwhelming 59%. Where team alignment once served as a differentiator, it has now become table stakes, with physician access itself no longer a given.
For best practice biopharmas, the payoff for integrated teams is significant. At the front end of the value chain, up to eight additional touchpoints per HCP per month can be achieved, while over the longer term, one company increased Phase III trial success: from 4% to 23% with a focus on cross-team quality culture over a 10-year period. Teams that mobilize resources effectively shorten their time to market by delivering a more cohesive employee experience and, therefore, a more relevant, higher-quality customer experience.
While breaking down functional barriers is central to commercial effectiveness, this isn’t code for simply organizing around therapeutic areas or pursuing an agile structure. Numerous companies have used strategic workforce planning to successfully reshape role designs, team composition, and ways of working around customer experiences as they vary across product lifecycle stages. When tied to strategic account management, this approach puts divisional biopharma leaders in the driver’s seat to drive transformation without a hard reset on structure.
Korn Ferry’s radically human approach to pharma excellence
Excelling in the challenging pharmaceutical market doesn’t come down to technology or process; it comes down to people. Organizations with a radically human focus on leadership, culture, team dynamics, and talent experience higher engagement and generate 40% better team performance and 30% more profit, helping deliver life-saving medicines faster despite a current of increasingly volatile market conditions.
Contact us to learn how Korn Ferry can help you set people-centered strategies that deliver on your promise of improving patient outcomes and experiences.