Flash Foresight and the Changing World of Pharma
Recently, at PMRG’s 2012 Annual National Conference, I had the privilege to hear keynote Daniel Burrus, leader in technology forecasting, speak on the future of healthcare. Burrus began his presentation, “Accelerating Growth: Innovating in Healthcare with Strategic Foresight and Certainty”, by acknowledging that the healthcare industry and specifically Pharma are undergoing a period of “unprecedented uncertainty”. He elaborated that as an industry we are faced with challenges more acute and more staggering than any of us have faced in our professional lives.
During these times of immense change, we as market researchers and marketers should be careful not to question our value or relevance. In fact we are arguably more relevant and more valuable than ever before. We better, however be questioning HOW we do what we do!
Burrus reminded us that “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always had.” To illustrate his point, Burrus noted that a staggering 70% of Apple’s current revenue comes from technology that was not available 2 years ago. As a forward-looking organization, Apple has pushed the envelope by recognizing that the changing environment they compete in requires new ways of thinking and acting in order to overcome obstacles and leverage opportunities. For us to create forward-thinking, anticipatory organizations, much like Apple, Burrus provided several principles from his new book Flash Foresight.
- Take your biggest problem and skip it.
Sound radical? Burrus’ point is that you’re most likely focusing on something that is not the actual problem. In order to solve your biggest problem, you first have to recognize what it really is. Boil it down and find the root cause. As an industry the problem might not be the patent cliff we all face, it may well be that we are not optimizing the value of the resources we have.
- Base your strategy on certainty – bet on hard trends versus soft trends.
Even though we are in a time of unprecedented uncertainty there are still things that we know for certain. Burrus calls these hard trends: “Hard trends will happen for sure, guaranteed, no question about it…soft trends might happen.” Burrus argues that a critical part of becoming a forward-thinking organization is differentiating between hard and soft trends and leveraging the hard trends into opportunities for innovation and growth. One example of a hard trend that Burrus highlights is technological advancement. Technology does not go backward. Once you have had a smart phone there is no going back to a ‘dumb’ phone.
As I listened to Burrus’ presentation (which inspired me to read his book Flash Foresight), it occurred to me that Burrus essentially supports a quote I love from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In a time of unprecedented industry change how many of us are truly examining what we are doing – and how we are doing it? We all like to think of ourselves as innovative and forward thinking – but how many of us have embraced the hard trend of technological advancement and in fact examined and leveraged new technologies to drive differentiation, innovation and growth? During times of radical change – (hard trend or not) you essentially have two choices: 1) Be the disruptor – embracing new ideas and methodologies to improve outcomes – or 2) be the disrupted – focused on the ‘good old days’ as you are incrementally disenfranchised or displaced.
You choose – and live with the consequences!
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