Time to change

by JoelLane 22. March 2012 10:09

greedy_hand Is the pharmaceutical industry sometimes its own worst enemy? Blogger with attitude Maxine Vaccine looks some of the industry’s bad habits and suggests a detox programme.

In a dark time, the eye begins to see. So said the American poet Theodor Roethke. Difficult conditions focus the mind on what matters. The deepening economic crisis will achieve one positive thing: it will sort out those who take business seriously from the posers, the chancers and the egotists.

With the pharmaceutical industry under severe pressure, many companies are bucking because the ‘new’ business attitudes they developed in the 1990s are no longer valid. The yuppie is a dying breed. Business methods that maximise short-term profit are rapidly being discredited, while business methods that have stood the test of time – respect, trust, reliability and sustainable relationships – are making a comeback.

With that in mind, here are three tips for surviving pharma’s recession:

1. No to greed. As our current Pf readers’ poll shows clearly, most of you feel that pharma CEOs who award themselves supernova pay increases while staff face pay freezes and redundancies are taking the proverbial. Industry analysts have called the culture of inflated CEO bonuses an example of the ‘Lake Wobegon effect’ – after the fictitious town where “all the children are above average”. It’s the result of top executives thinking themselves a breed apart, and insisting they must have mega-rewards or their companies will lose them. So CEO rewards have to become more and more ‘competitive’ as companies become less and less so. Epic fail is hardly an adequate term for this mentality. Daylight robbery is nearer the mark.

2. No to bullies. As Pf reported online this week, Roche in the US has had to pay $1.8 million in compensation (nearly a month’s worth of CEO bonuses) to a sales rep who was 55 when a new sales manager repeatedly mocked him for being “old school” and not fitting into “the new environment”. The court ruled that Roche had unjustifiably ignored the rep’s complaints about this manager. Let’s be clear on this: it is the bullying manager who is outdated and out of touch. Companies are often happy to accept such a manager’s definition of what is ‘professional’. But bullying and discrimination are not professional. They drain energy, waste potential, sap morale and squander resources. Bullies are parasites that excrete fail.

3. Appropriate technology. In the wrong hands, a new gadget is like a Porsche or a Rolex watch: just something to flash around when you want to be noticed. The key word is appropriate. If your company is looking to purchase a new CRM or communication system, think about its purpose. Will it give you the insights, the customer access, the leverage that you need? Will it give you the edge? Half of that question is: are you ready to make the best use of the new system? There’s no point upgrading your hardware if you can’t upgrade your mind. But if you can exploit the possibilities it offers, matching its innovation with your own, appropriate technology is a key to the emerald city of win.

Maxine’s views are not necessarily those of Pharmaceutical Field.

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