In this three part series, we explore the different facets of business simulations that can boost competencies in the Biopharma industry.
For Part 2 of this series, let's start by paraphrasing the familiar maxim: "teams don't plan to fail, but some teams do indeed fail to plan". With all the management literature, business school courses and management development programs around you would think that this is one area where all Pharma teams would all achieve excellence by now, but that is clearly not the case, even according to self-assessment.
One area where working with simulations makes a difference for planning is in the analysis phase. In our experience, pharma teams accept as a given the kind of data that is commercially available to them in their own market, whether or not this data really helps them make the decisions they need to make. Working with simulations, we can show pharma teams which kinds of data they should have ideally, that is which data they really need and how to use it to shape their strategy and plan their tactics. Then, if this critical data is not available, we can explore how they can approximate this data or estimate it. And if even estimation techniques become unrealistic, we can discuss what is the best way to make decisions under uncertainty.
Another area where most Pharma teams benefit by simulation experience is learning how to use KPI's to monitor and improve their planning and performance. All teams know to access data on "lagging indicators" of brand performance like market share and sales, but analysis of these KPI's only allows you to do a "post mortem" on what happened when it is usually already too late. At the same time, big data vendors provide data packages sometimes offering some "leading indicators" of brand performance, but Pharma teams are often unable to interpret these data and adjust their brand plans in real time fast enough to have an impact. In a realistic simulation, you have to learn how to interpret leading indicators of brand performance and adjust the plan and your execution.
Finally, with respect to planning, in our experience, the scope and detail required by today's planning templates has proliferated beyond the point where individuals in the brand team can grasp all aspects of it. In a simulation experience, Pharma team members can have the rare experience of a bird's eye view across all aspects of the plan and across all stakeholders to learn how the decisions they make have an impact. With this experience, they are better able to understand the importance of their own planning and ensure that they get the key aspects of the plan right, without getting bogged down in details.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Developing the Team