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Find your brand’s edge, with dynamic competitive simulations

Authored by Shannon te Roller, and Jon Crompton, Senior Principal’s, Uptake for PM Group Worldwide Ltd, PME Magazine.

How the best teams in pharma stay at the top of their game.

In an era of rapid technological growth and economic uncertainty, the pharmaceutical industry finds itself at the forefront of innovation. The swift evolution and imperative to innovate heighten industry competition, as new medicines and healthcare solutions strive to carve out a meaningful niche.

Amidst this fierce competition, companies must identify and communicate their brand’s or portfolio’s competitive advantage to secure and enhance their market position.

One of our most powerful tactics, repeatedly proven to benefit world-leading pharmaceutical teams, is the concept of ‘dynamic competitive simulations’. When teams commit to this process, it can accelerate their brands by enabling them to think several steps ahead and pressure-test existing plans and assumptions.

Having strategic foresight enables teams to counteract threats, but also exploit opportunities. If you can anticipate competitors’ actions, you increase the chances of shaping the competitive landscape to your advantage.


Three steps to dynamic competitive simulations

  • Harness the data
    The simulation’s success will be enhanced through a robust understanding of the competitors and market landscape. These insights are not always easy to gather, but the more insights and information to hand, the more appropriate or precise your simulations will be.
  • Formulate the scenarios

This enables you to consider potential situations that might affect current strategic imperatives and assumptions. These may relate to the external market, or they could even link with internal organisational aspects. Preparing these scenarios is key, and it ideally involves cross-functional team input to create and refine them before including them in the exercise.

  • Put the ‘shoe on the other foot’

Actively considering yourself as part of a competitor organisation allows you to think about how they may react or approach particular scenarios and tactics. To do this successfully, go beyond just understanding a particular product or therapy area and get some further insight into the competitor’s organisational vision, culture, and approach.


Cross-functional collaboration unlocks the most value

Dynamic competitive simulations can be completed as simple tabletop exercises or through computer-based simulations, however, we find that deeper value is realised in ‘workshop’ environments. Workshops infuse team energy and excitement while sharing knowledge and fostering discussion..

We regularly witness the following benefits of ‘competitor simulations’:

  • Driving innovation and critical thinking skills: It creates a safe space to think differently, challenging current tactics and developing novel approaches.
  • Accelerating decision-making and resource allocation when needed: It allows for pressure-testing decision pathways to address scenarios, providing a more refined approach to validating actions and resources required to address opportunities and/or obstacles.
  • Increasing collaboration and communication across different functional areas: Successful simulations require strong cross-functional collaboration and communication, strengthening internal collaboration, understanding and partnering.
  • Enhancing organisational agility and adaptability: Understanding a strategic plan’s potential risks and opportunities facilitates the development of contingency plans. This will allow organisations to quickly pivot when needed, minimising potential losses and damage.
  • Strategic resilience and durability: Simulations build flexibility into strategic plans to navigate complexities within a rapidly changing landscape, ensuring plans retain relevance.


Don’t let cognitive bias get in your way!

As humans, we can fall victim to cognitive biases that weaken the quality of our competitive simulations. This is because cognitive, or unconscious, biases are the mental shortcuts that help us deal with information overload in a world that throws data at us more quickly than our brains are capable of processing!

Documented and popularised by psychologists such as Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow – 2011), it is crucial that we plan and allow for cognitive biases in any competitive simulation and that we are on our guard for ‘bear traps’ such as confirmation bias (strongly preferring data that supports our own preconceived ideas), sunk cost bias (preferring to continue with strategies we are already invested in), bandwagon effect (where we go along with the majority rather than challenging from a unique perspective that we might otherwise have brought to the table), and authority bias (where we automatically assume that someone more senior knows more than we do!).

At Uptake, we believe that with careful planning and awareness of cognitive biases, all teams can benefit from running competitive simulations to support leading competitive positioning, agility, and resilience in our ever-competitive industry.

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Meet Uptake’s Organisational Transformation Experts:

Cathy Nolan

Practice Principal

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Melissa Dagless 

Partner – Growth and Innovation

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Shannon te Roller

Senior Principal

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Jon Crompton

Senior Principal

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