Many of us recognise intellectually that we need others’ knowledge to address the opportunities and challenges we face in our day to day jobs in pharma, yet we still lack the time or motivation to collaborate.
Engaging with third parties all too often feels inefficient (search and coordination costs eat up time), risky (can I trust a provider to really deliver for me?) and low value (our own area of expertise always seems most critical). Lurking behind these reservations may be concerns about losing relevance, becoming one of those individual that 'needs others to get the job done'.
A recent HBR article suggest that clarifying what collaboration is (and what it isn’t) and gaining first-hand experience with one or more collaborative projects is the only way to combat these common apprehensions. The article suggests that only after seeing collaboration’s value for yourself will you put in the effort required to seek out cross-disciplinary projects and hone the skills necessary to collaborate effectively.
At a recent social event, I got asked the standard "What is it that you do?" question by someone from outside of the bubble of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. I rolled out the usual "I work for an outsourced service company that provides X, Y, Z services etc...". I watched the individual glaze over for a second and then clarify "so you do stuff drug companies don't want to do themselves?". This made me think about how I describe what we are about as a company and how at Star we provide value to our clients.
Clearly, as an outsourcing firm, we need to provide functional value in the services that we deliver e.g. quality, talent, compliance, cost reduction, flexibility etc... but what about demonstrating that we can deliver the higher tier elements of B2B value?
It struck me that the only way to really prove that can deliver value beyond functional expectation is to demonstrate the impact we can make through collaboration. This is where we come to life beyond PowerPoint creds presentations and costing models...... This is where we have the luxury of investing significant time (a rare commodity for our clients!), headspace and insight..... Sometimes this will lead to business and sometimes not, there is no expectation, just a genuine desire to make an impact. Collaboration and Impact then are the keys to overcoming scepticism.
If, as the HBR suggest, gaining first-hand experience is the route to realising the value of true collaboration, it may be worth investing a little time to grab a coffee and explore how an outsourced provider could help.
Does anyone know of a pharmaceutical organisation facing a commercial challenge close to a Costa? First round is on me.......
Ryan Wooller, Head of Business Development, Star