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Flexibility in Pharma Brand Planning: Navigating Uncertainty with Confidence

Leading through uncertainty: The importance of flexibility in business and pharma brand planning

Stephanie Hall, Founder and CEO, Uptake Strategies.  

As the CEO of Uptake Strategies, I found our Head of Growth and Innovation, Melissa Dagless’article on pharma brand planning in times of uncertainty to be insightful and thought-provoking. She highlights the importance of planning for the actions we may never take and argues that a traditional annual planning process is no longer enough in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

I completely agree with Melissa that it’s essential to develop a systematic way of generating insights and regularly track lead indicators, combined with a rear-view of pre-defined lag indicators. These practices are critical in the early discovery of emerging trends, enabling rapid diagnosis at local and global levels. When we have this insight, we can make better decisions that are reliably led by causes rather than results.

Enquiring minds at leadership levels are valuable assets to any organisation, and it is vitally important that we recognise this when building and developing cultures. We must be willing to challenge our assumptions and regularly refine our plans – whether at brand or business level – as we respond to changing circumstances.

Inspirational female leadership

When it comes to leadership during uncertain times, in addition to our own industry innovators, I look to the female trailblazers who have demonstrated agile yet clear direction through difficult and changeable conditions. Jacinda Ardern’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand is a prime example; her swift and decisive action to close borders, impose strict lockdowns, and launch aggressive testing and contact tracing programs helped to keep her country’s infection and mortality rates among the lowest in the world.

Another perhaps less well-known example is Ginni Rometty, the former CEO of IBM. She led the company through a period of significant change and transformation, navigating the transition to cloud-based services and artificial intelligence. She emphasised the importance of agility and innovation, urging her team to focus on delivering value to customers quickly and adapting to changing circumstances.

In conclusion, planning is more crucial than ever during times of instability, but we must be willing to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances quickly. Tracking lead indicators, challenging assumptions, and refining our plans as we respond to changing circumstances are essential practices to succeed in today’s rapidly changing business environment. And when it comes to entrepreneurship, female leaders like Jacinda Ardern and Ginni Rometty have demonstrated exceptional agility, innovation, and the ability to lead through change and uncertainty.

Further reading

Gain a deeper understanding of how to plan for the unpredictable in pharma brand planning within our latest article, the first in the ‘Innovative Impact’ series for Pharma Market Europe magazine. Discover invaluable insights into brand planning during uncertain times by clicking here.

If you want to learn more about the importance of flexibility in business and pharma brand planning, and how to develop a systematic way of generating insights, tracking lead indicators, and adapting to changing circumstances, contact us via to learn more about how our experienced team of pharma industry experts can help you challenge assumptions, and refine your plans to succeed in uncertain times. Let us help you navigate the rapidly changing business environment and achieve success in your brand planning efforts.