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Supercharged Strategies: It’s time for pharma to get brave and bold

Channel your energy productively to build successful pharma strategies

Authored by Cathy Nolan, Practice Principal, Uptake for PM Group Worldwide Ltd, PME Magazine.

Just as spring cleaning clears out clutter, a focus on strategy provides clarity, fuelled by a reassessment of goals and priorities. It’s a time that you can identify outdated practices to make room for innovation, efficiency, and growth, and signify a fresh start – reset, refocused, realigned… Ready to win.

The extent to which you will make meaningful impact is directly aligned to your strategic choices.

Critical Foundations

The truth is that you will use energy and resources with or without a strategy, but having a considered strategy will empower you to channel your energy into a positive and productive direction of travel.

It is also important to remember that you may have plans, but without a tight foundational strategy, you risk ‘headless chicken’ territory, and the rewards you hope to reap are unlikely to be achievable.

Consider if any of the following statements resonate with you…

“I’m not clear on which projects are essential, and which are nice to have.”

“I feel my team are often unable to prioritize the projects or activities which will have the most impact, and hence tend to do lots of stuff with no real value”

“My organisation is too slow to react to new opportunities or challenges.”

“We lack a clear process, criteria or rationale for approving investment decisions.”

“I do not feel that we have a clear view of the external landscape and our brand or organisation’s five-year horizon.”

If they do, this is your sign to be bolder and braver with your strategic choices.

Brave and bold – but not brazen

Boldness is often associated with recklessness, or a failure to consider the consequences. That isn’t the type of boldness I am endorsing here. However, if pharma leaders lack the confidence to be bolder than their competitors and are not brave enough to make the tough calls, they face just doing a lot of ‘stuff’.

Particularly in times like these, when the landscape is changing significantly at pace, and many of us are working with tighter resources than we have had before we must be decisive to catch and support new-ness as early as possible. An assertive attitude enables us to manage the uncertainties and protect our investments by prioritising trendspotting and having the courage to respond with timely course correction.

Putting boldness front and centre, whether in your asset launch strategy, brand/asset positioning strategy, or in your strategy to accelerate in-market brand growth can also be the secret sauce for inspiring motivation and confidence in your teams, driving innovative mindsets, and providing a clear vision and aligned direction, for everyone to follow – winning together.

Getting focused on a clear set of objectives, with every action a step in the right direction, will help us to achieve much greater results. This takes huge bravery, particularly when it means challenging respected stakeholders who may still think we should be doing it all.

Remember, knowing ‘what not to do’ can give us greater agility and faster adaptability in a dynamic market environment. Sometimes it will be essential to pivot, so our capability to do so should be embedded in our strategic choices.

A winning mindset

It always feels easier on paper than in practice, so to make sure that we turn brave, bold strategies into a winning plan, we use Uptake’s proven framework. In summary:

  1. Begin with your integrated set of bold and brave choices, which fit together and reinforce each other.
  2. Gain strategic alignment with key decision-makers, to ensure the organisation is investing into the strategically important initiatives.
  3. Plan the approach, with realistic, achievable timelines, deliverables, budgets and responsibilities.
  4. Define KPIs to enable you to test and refine your strategy. Check that it embraces uncertainty and positions you ahead of current trends.
  5. Use scenario planning to analyse strategy resilience and embed agility.
  6. Define where you are moving from and where you are going by building a detailed action implementation plan, consisting of actual activities and projects which will drive strategies forward, along with reporting.
  7. Continuously monitor and evaluate against agreed KPIs to track progress towards goals and objectives. Be prepared to pivot and course correct if needed.

Following these steps offers the right checks and balances and embeds the right mindset at all levels to achieve the impact you need to see.

How can you be bolder and braver this year?

Click here to read and download the published version

Meet Uptake’s Strategy Experts:

Cathy Nolan 

Practice Principal

Melissa Dagless 

Head of Growth and Innovation – Partner

Maxine Smith 

Managing Director

Shannon te Roller

Senior Principal

Jon Crompton

Senior Principal

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