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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Finding a cure for 'templatitis'…

It's time to stand together against this scourge of the industry

Duncan Ferguson Lucid Strategic Consultancy blog

We’ve committed our careers to the pharma industry with the ultimate aim of treating and curing diseases, and thereby relieving the suffering of people around the world. It’s time we should stand together and eradicate a devastasting disease that is spreading rapidly throughout the industry… templatitis!

Templatitis (pronunication: tem-plate-i-tis) can be recognised by the following symptoms: Increased apathy; rising levels of frustration; inhibition of creativity; short-sightedness; helplessness; sleep loss; inhibition of strategic competence.

We are seeing a rising level of these symptoms, fuelled by numerous factors: more complex market situations as a result of increasing disease understanding and competition; multiple stakeholders with varying needs (including complex and varied payer needs and the increasing influence of patients); expansion from a single brand focus to portfolios with multiple brands, indications and services; and pressure to embrace the digital revolution.

It is no wonder that the challenge of reflecting our heterogenous strategic plans in homogenous templates is causing such traumatic symptoms.

So what is the cure? Or at least: how can we live symptom free? My experience across local, regional and global teams has highlighted several approaches with varying success.

1. Surgery. Remove the template. Removing/destroying the template appears to be the most obvious and best solution for local and cross-functional teams. The template receives a huge amount of critisim from all parties, and yet it keeps on multiplying and building resistance. Cross-functional teams express a high interest to be able to communicate their strategic plans without the need for a template. The most striking finding though is that when templates are removed almost all teams feel paralysed without them and demand a re-introduction of a templated structure. For regional and global teams the thought of a template-free approach is horrifying as they need to consolidate plans, and then identify areas for synergy, growth acceleration opportunities and best practice.

2. Treat the symptoms. Embrace the template. The most common solution, with a good level of success, is to embrace the template, ensuring that the strategic plan is effectively captured and communicated throughout the different sections. There are two golden rules for this solution. Firstly, be guided and driven by an effective strategic planning process that will develop compelling insights, value and engagement and therefore generate exceptional commercial growth. Secondly, don’t be restricted by the template – promote a positive mind-set of accountability within the team to be able to communicate the plan effectively despite any restrictions the template may present. From my experience, there is also no harm in asking; in most cases where teams have asked to adapt, add or remove template sections this has been positively received.

3. Treat the cause. Re-design the template. The most successful solution, and potentially a cure. Certainly a treatment with a long half-life. Re-design the template to align to an effective strategic planning process. Imagine a world where the process, tools and templates provided a framework that was embraced across different teams, affiliates and regions. Imagine a world where all efforts were focused on accelerating momentum rather than compensating for inefficiencies. Imagine a world free from templatitis! Having been through this engaging process myself with different companies, I would fully endorse this approach only if the conditions are right: the company, including senior managers, recognise and support the need for change; there is a compelling business challenge or new launch situation to bring extra energy to the approach; and the team involves all associated functions, with representation from local, regional and global. Organisations that first address the root cause of templatitis will be ahead of the competition.

So is the ‘template’ a vital organ that can not be removed without the death of strategic planning? Is ‘templatitis’ spreading in your organisation, paralysing your teams and inhibiting growth? It’s time to act! Whether your efforts are focused on treating the symptoms or aiming for a cure, we’re all in the industry to improve the lives of those that are suffering.

Article by
Duncan Ferguson

Managing Director, Lucid Strategic Consultancy

15th May 2017

From: Marketing

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