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Embrace Imperfection: Conquer The Pharma Omnichannel Conundrum

Why Embracing Imperfection is Key to Success

Authored by Melissa Dagless, Global Head of Growth and Innovation, Uptake Strategies for PME Innovative Impact Blog.

In this article for Pharma Market Europe, Melissa shares how we should challenge the pharmaceutical industry’s tendency towards perfectionism and highlights how it can hinder progress and limit opportunities, especially in the realm of Omnichannel strategies.

Drawing inspiration from SpaceX’ recent Starship flight test, Melissa encourages us to embrace imperfection and take bold leaps in our Omnichannel endeavours. By adopting the ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP) mentality, as seen is the success stories of renowned brands like Dropbox and Airbnb; we can expedite our entry into the market, gather invaluable customer feedback, and iteratively improve our strategies to achieve greater success.

Explore the concept of leveraging MVPs in the activation of Omnichannel strategies, focussing on critical customer micro-journeys and key touchpoints. By embracing a learning mindset and continuously adapting our approaches, we can deliver valuable insights and build strong foundations for long-term success.

Read below or click to read the published version

I recently watched as SpaceX employees cheered and applauded, watching their Starship rocket burst into a fireball during its inaugural test flight. Carissa Bryce Christensen, the CEO and founder of BryceTech, followed this by saying “it’s always great in a test if everything works flawlessly. That’s an unrealistic expectation with a vehicle this complex.”

This got me thinking. Our industry is conditioned towards perfectionism, for obvious reasons. But, while striving for perfection is understandable, it can often hinder progress and lead to missed opportunities. This is particularly relevant in relation to Omnichannel strategies. Last month, my colleague David Thwaites encouraged us to be bold and take the leap with Omnichannel. We need to let SpaceX employees inspire us to give ourselves the opportunity to reach the moon!

The MVP Mentality

Some of the most successful consumer brands today – think Dropbox and Airbnb – launched with a “minimum viable product” (MVP) – a product that is launched with only its core features, with the goal of testing the market and gathering feedback to improve it over time. By doing so, these brands were able to get to market faster, learn from customer feedback, and iterate their product to achieve greater success.

Last year, I worked on a global affordability access project with the World Health Organization and a large pharma company, where creating an MVP was at the very core of our agenda. We got there with a ‘practical agile’ approach, streamlining the stakeholders involved, and uniting under one shared purpose. Using this method, the project was deployed in two countries, allowing us to learn and improve, before adjusting and rolling out to other countries – positively impacting many thousands of patients’ lives.

A similar process has been used in two other recent projects; in both cases, short-term life-sentences are now long-term chronic conditions. This created new challenges, ensuring that appropriate resources would be available for potentially 70+ years. Here, the approach connected marketing, medical and government affairs to create the MVPs, enabling us to stress-test and adjust, before rolling out.

A similar five-step approach can be taken to activate Omnichannel strategies:

Step 1: Build your team

Who are you collaborating with? In the examples I shared above, streamlining the team to leave only the essential decision makers at the table allowed us to unite quickly, and progress to the solution much more efficiently.

 Step 2: Create your micro-journey

You must get granular about your problem statement or purpose, the segment, and the leverage point you are targeting.

Step 3: Determine your measure of success

What value are you seeking to create? For example, at Uptake we often look at Omnichannel through the lens of optimising customer experience. Pinpointing the most effective way of generating change, then determining what measurable effect(s) we want the MVP to have on the customer journey is key at this stage.

Step 4: Get your data house in order

Ensure that you are prepared to process and triangulate the data sufficiently, to enable actionable insights to be generated rapidly.

Step 5: Launch, learn and adapt

The launch of an MVP is just the start! Your timeline will depend on the challenge and the number of adaptations required, so it is important to build in time to view what is working, assess the changes needed, and adapt to optimise.

By launching with an MVP focused on a micro-journey for the most critical customer, on the key ‘leverage point’ the pathway can allow, we can quickly deliver insights that we can nimbly respond to – whether by adapting, pivoting or developing our strategy. The key lies in remembering the SpaceX mentality, that every test-run is a success if it allows us to deepen our understanding. If we are learning and taking appropriate action, we are not failing.


Once we begin to see positive results, we can build on and strengthen them. This approach allows teams to feel that they are being successful in their Omnichannel endeavours, without the fear of not being perfect first time – demonstrating theory in practice of personalising to customer needs, which is so critical to support teams’ belief that they CAN DO Omnichannel.

So, while striving for perfection is understandable, I would strongly argue that it can often hinder progress and lead to missed opportunities. By adopting an MVP approach, we can rapidly deliver tangible results and start making the Omnichannel ‘dream’ a reality!

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