Having spent a good part of last week at the Dpharm Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials Conference, in Boston, we came away with some insights about innovation – a subject that we’ve given a lot of thought to over the years but is endlessly fascinating.More than ever, we believe that true innovation is first and foremost a cultural issue.
Most big organizations are so invested in minimizing risk, that truly disruptive ideas can never take hold.Strategically, pharma should build completely separate incubator type functions that are independent from the structure and cultural baggage of the parent. Then, integrate the success of those businesses back into the mother ship. Probably with the entrepreneurs as leaders (an idea certain to make most execs not want to innovate).
Like the image above says, Innovation is really about leadership. An acceptance of risk, and the personalities that are actually disruptive to the status quo. Learning to live with the idea that if you aren’t feeling uncomfortable, then innovation isn’t happening.
Which leads to a related thought. I couldn’t help but compare this to some work that we’re doing for Peter Lee, Head of Microsoft Research who spoke eloquently about the role of research and innovators in this video. Peter’s ideas about innovation apply to all industries, but pharma seems to be so risk adverse that it feels like innovation will only come in the vanilla, good tasting variety.
We also published a mini-book called “Disrupting R&D, 20 Ideas to Foster Innovation and Disruption in Drug Development” for the conference attendees. The book was written for the pharma industry, but it applies to all businesses. It’s a ten minute read. Feel free to download and share.
Joseph Kim at Lilly, Komathi Stem of Genentech, Craig Lipset at Pfizer and Andrew Lee at Merck; are some of the folks we met who are on the leading edge of innovation. They had some keen insights, and seemed dedicated to the challenge.
And thanks to our friend Bruce Goldberg, MD MPH, Innovation Leader at Genentech, who is the kind of exec who is always brutally honest with his thoughts and the kind of innovator who isn’t afraid to break some eggs to make an omelet. Bruce, kindly shared the insight for the above image during the conference.