We are welcoming IE’s CEO Steve back to continue our discussion, delving into the details of Living Launch Excellence. Last time we covered why IE started with the focus on Launch Excellence and how IE collaborates with clients through a unique approach, and today we pick Steve’s brains to discuss the opportunities for a successful launch.

Let’s start where we left off, with a question we had in;

“What are the key missed opportunities you typically see during launch?”

Steve: “Through 20 years working in pharma launch, I still think the most commonly seen missed opportunities for a successful launch is better sharing of best practice throughout an organisation. By ‘sharing best practice’ I don’t just mean between countries which are launching the same product, it is equally important between regional and global teams as well. Taking the time to reflect upon previous launches of different products and understanding what worked well is where inefficiencies always stands out. Equally, launches in other therapy areas may have valuable insight to offer as well. Even if you don’t think this is relevant to the launch of your product, they could have overcome internal or external obstacles in a different way to your team so by understanding these you could discover new and interesting methods and opportunities for a successful launch.”

“So what have you seen as the main reasons launch teams don’t seem to share best practice?”

Steve: “The main issue is a cultural one. Sharing doesn’t seem to be a natural state within pharma companies and there is not the importance placed on it there should be. When you combine this with launch teams having ‘too much to do in too little time’ the result is of working with heads down. A common misperception is that the time it would take to reflect upon previous launches does not seem valuable in comparison to completing their launch tasks. However, reflecting on and analysing previous or parallel launches can ultimately save mistakes, time and budget and often generates ideas too!”

“Do you think ‘sharing best practice’ is the missed opportunity which has the biggest impact on a successful launch?”

Steve: “Although it is one of the most common missed opportunities for a successful launch, I would say that the 3 key areas that we mentioned in last month’s blog can have a big impact if they are missing from a launch team’s plan and culture. These 3 areas were;

  • a relevant launch road map, which has to be agile enough to cover global, regional and country levels,
  • connection of this launch road map through an intuitive platform and,
  • engagement of the team, where the team feel ownership of the launch process.

These 3 areas are intertwined and the lack of one will impact on the others. However, I think an engaged team is one of the most important aspects to get right as engagement (or lack of) of launch teams is the area where we see the most opportunities for a successful launch. An engaged team brings the launch road map off the screen and brings it to and into the hearts and minds of those working on and around it. The consequences of a team not being engaged leads to disconnection from the plan and its’ ambition and you end up with individuals just all doing their ‘own thing’ and working in isolation.”

“So how do teams and their management rectify this and get everyone working engaged together?”

Steve: “Communication is key and this is where a centralised process and platform can help. Communications from global and regional levels needs to include not just details about the outputs that need to be delivered by a country and by what deadline, but they need to include a clear vision and purpose, outlining key milestones along the launch journey so that teams are prepared and can see progression of their journey towards the ultimate goal. When a roadmap is being tailored for a country launch, it is important that country team members are really engaged with so that their needs are fully incorporated and embedded into the plan. This breeds real ownership responsibility with the plan. This again will bring us back to the points of sharing best practice and engagement. The right type of communications across teams and throughout management levels will include reflections on what can be improved on and what ideas can be brought from the different experiences launch teams have in a cross-functional way. This then enables better and faster decision making across all aspects of the launch journey where teams can feel valued and engaged with a continually improving launch culture.

“Can you give us any examples of where engagement has impacted a launch’s success?”

 Steve: “Through the years of working with IE we have come across many examples of where poor engagement has impacted on results. There are some stand out examples though – one is where there was total breakdown of cross functional communication. At launch, the sales & marketing teams were fully ready only to realise forecasts had not be submitted, allocations had not been made for their country and they would have no stock for the first 6 months after launch!

 “So we talk about engagement, connection and agile roadmaps as key pieces in the journey towards Launch Excellence, but how does an organisation with none or only some of these pieces start on their journey?”

Steve: “Well the basis of Launch Excellence comes from investing in and aligning your launch capabilities, but I think this is a good time for a break and a longer discussion on this again next month”

“Thanks Steve”

Join us again next month when we carry on our monthly catch up’s with Steve. Any questions you would like to post to him contact us via LinkedIn, Twitter or email your questions to innovation@innovative-edge.co.uk