Change Management Strategy: Changing the Way We Change

The life sciences industry is evolving: the 2016 landscape looks nothing like 15 years ago. Change is inevitable and constant. It will be even more rapid in the 21st century.

For example, no longer is it enough to increase the sales force to ensure better sales. No longer is it enough to increase the average number of calls per rep to boost revenue. Optimal KPI frameworks are totally different than they used to be. The industry faces tremendous evolution.

Considering this environment, companies must ensure their people are prepared to keep pace with rapid innovation. But how can this be achieved? And aren’t Big Pharma companies doing this already? To a certain extent, they are. Change management has been on Big Pharma’s agenda: every project plan and every program seems to have “Change Management” as part of its framework.  But most of them don’t do it the right way. For many of their projects, change management is just a concept that looks good on paper, but there is no thoroughly detailed and defined change management approach. Or there isn’t a great deal of effort put forth on ensuring optimal adoption at all levels of the company.

So what should be done to guarantee your change management process is a success? A simple approach can be used to establish a change management strategy, as detailed in the graphic below and described in the rest of the column that follows:changinggraphic.jpg

Each step has its own importance and should be part of the change management strategy:

  • Gaps Identification: Clearly identify where your company should be in the future and the gaps to reach that vision.
  • Expected Behavior: Clearly inform people of what their expected behavior should be going forward. This requires both creating and improving those behaviors, as well as communicating them.
  • Change Manager Role: Create a change manager role in the project. They should be able to report directly to the project manager.
  • Top Management Advocacy: Top/Upper management should advocate for the program.
  • KPI’s from Ignition: At the onset, define clear KPIs and metrics to measure success throughout every step of the strategy/process.
  • Best Practices Sharing: Once the strategy is in place, it’s important to encourage best practices sharing among your project team members (open feedback/critique) to guarantee the strategy is constantly improved.
  • Focus on People: Be mindful of differences, unique work cultures, and idiosyncratic work flows.

In addition, depending on the size of your company, programs might cover a large geographical area. Focusing on people, therefore, means taking into account cultural differences and other related concerns that should be considered within the context of your change management strategy and company. A change management strategy must be palatable to different cultures and considerate of other languages. What works perfectly in one country might be terrible in another. You must have a keen understanding of specific regional needs.

But that doesn’t mean one plan per region or country is necessary. A global approach is the way to go, but you must balance that demand while considering regional work streams and idiosyncrasies. Communication and training are just some examples. When necessary, the global approach should have specific local ties and relevance.