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How can life sciences organizations implement, sustain and scale a culture of innovation to drive business impact

28 Oct 2022

Over the past few years, many life sciences organizations have successfully changed mindsets and built the right capabilities needed to drive sustainable reforms. In contrast, many others still struggle with this transition. The biggest changes they want to make is to bring speed, scale, and efficiency to their operations, and abridge the strategy-execution gap.

At the Indegene Digital Summit 2022, Timmo Andersen, Corporate SVP and Head of Global Regions at Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) shared some practical tips on how life sciences organizations can be more execution-driven and focus on the transformation of 'how they do things' and not 'what they do'.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom he shared during the session.

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“I honestly DO NOT care about digital. But I am in love with how digitalization allows us to create data, generate insights, connect teams, think global, share knowledge, grow people, and ultimately WOW our customer by delivering above and beyond their needs”

Digital transformation has been a trending buzzword in the life sciences industry for a long time. Although everyone is talking about it, very few in the industry are clued up on how it can be attained, sustained, and scaled. Changing mindsets and focusing on the right albeit ‘boring’ tasks can help them make the cut, says Timmo. It is high time that organizations stopped talking about converting, transforming, adopting, unlocking, and transitioning when it comes to technology and transformation. They need to focus on practical and tangible aspects such as building and integrating new capabilities, setting and implementing a robust execution roadmap, developing a data-driven mindset, and figuring out how to deliver on the promises to their stakeholders with a sense of urgency.

“The approach to transformation and radical change is first knowing that your teams and employees want to change and win.”

Building the right capabilities, defining new processes, and bringing in the right technology are vital to driving change. However, if you are unable to win the support and participation of your teams and employees, the entire endeavour can collapse like a house of cards. It is a common misconception within organizations that their employees are averse to change and improvement. Organizations need to overcome this bias. Having faith in your employees and their ability to adopt change is the foundational step toward sustainable and scalable transformation. Organizations should engage their employees from the get-go, welcome their feedback, equip them with the right skills and expertise, and provide them with practical and intuitive steps on how they can seamlessly transition into the new way of doing things.

“Don’t build new silos to replace old ones, insist on blending new and classical capabilities.”

Siloed and fragmented operations have plagued the life sciences industry since the beginning of time. These have not only affected their time-to-market but also had an indirect yet profound impact on their bottom line. Building new capabilities in isolation and not having a vision about how they can seamlessly integrate with existing ones can do more harm than help. Digital transformation has the power to harmonize operations, connect people, and improve knowledge - organizations should use these aspects to their advantage. Having a clear vision about bringing in new capabilities and blending them into existing systems can have a synergistic impact on the organization's commercial well-being.

"In 90% of the cases, the excellence in doing the 'boring' work repeatedly and better by all team members is what makes a difference."

Transforming operations and changing mindsets are mammoth tasks. While leaders undertaking them may have a clear vision of the big picture – they may often miss out on the simple yet critical details that help make the reforms sustainable and scalable. As a solution, Timmo recommends not running after shiny objects and focusing on doing the so-called ‘boring’ tasks. For example, developing a healthy culture where your employees are provided with opportunities to upskill, rewarded for their wins, and encouraged to share their unorthodox ideas can help build a self-sustaining ecosystem that drives perpetual innovation and enables the organization to meet and exceed its business goals.

Timmo shared several practical tips on how life sciences organizations can transform their operations in a scalable and sustainable manner. But here are the 3 key takeaways that perfectly summarise the session.

- When it comes to developing capabilities, leaders should always keep an eye out for new and upcoming ones and figure out how to blend them seamlessly into their existing frameworks

- When it comes to driving transformation, it is the 'boring' tasks that truly make a difference

- Your employees are a vital resource; cherish them and have faith in their ability to accept and drive change

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