Blockbuster hunting with Pfizer goes external


A recent article on Boston.com discusses Pfizer’s strategy to focus their hunt for their next blockbuster drugs around geographic areas with high concentration of medical academics and research centers.

According to the piece:

The drug giant is betting it can bring more treatments to market by working with academic researchers in medical hubs like Boston. It also has set up satellite centers in New York, San Francisco, and La Jolla, Calif., outside San Diego, to strike alliances in those areas. Overall, Pfizer is committing up to $100 million to such collaborations over the next five years.

Efforts like this illustrate a growing frustration within pharmaceutical companies whose existing progress in new product development and R&D have been frustratingly slow to yield quality opportunities.  Pfizer and their competitors are increasingly looking to improve their odds on such giant investment gambles that can make or break them with no mercy and a scarcity of adequate fallback plans.

Article: For Pfizer, Boston’s medical labs a lure (Boston.com)

This article published in conjunction with MRT’s workshop series:
Technology Scouting to Accelerate Innovation – Implementing an External Sourcing Program – check our website for the latest dates and locations of this popular seminar.

Is chaos a prerequisite for creativity? Thoughts on Design Thinking…


A recently scheduled FREE webinar from MRT has got me thinking about creativity and the optimal conditions that fuel it.  The webinar is about Design Thinking, an approach towards product development that guides one to uncover the root of the customer’s problem that your product or service solves.

Along the way, I stumbled upon an article called “Design Thinking is a Failed Experiment” by Bruce Nussbaum, perhaps best known as a managing editor at BusinessWeek, where he declares the decade of Design Thinking to be closing.  But is he a credible enough authority to make said declaration?  Of course he is, because he has a new drum to beat called “Creative Intelligence.”  Even innovation methods need to be refreshed to look innovative again.  It’s a “meta” thing.

There was one piece of Nussbaum’s article that caught my attention.  The factor that he says marginalized corporate implementations of Design Thinking methods is that:

Companies absorbed the process of Design Thinking all to [sic] well, turning it into a linear, gated, by-the-book methodology that delivered, at best, incremental change and innovation. Call it N+1 innovation.  CEOs in particular, took to the process side of Design Thinking, implementing it like Six Sigma and other efficiency-based processes.

This is something not enough people realize when they talk about “best practices.”  With best practices, the standard warning is that copying does not work, one must customize best practices to the culture, environment, industry, etc.  In fact, one should probably utilize Design Thinking in order to properly implement Design Thinking.

Companies often don’t follow this advice, however, or they take it the wrong way and customize so much of the practice that its benefits are also removed as part of the process.  This is similar to how hospital patients often contract diseases like staph infections as an unintended consequence of trying to be cured.

In relation to Design Thinking, what Nussbaum means is that creativity often requires a lack of structure, a type of chaos if you will, to illuminate an insightful solution.  According to him, once the “suits” got a hold of it, they threw the baby out with the bath water.  Corporations and their HR departments are known for over complicating things as simple as a #2 pencil requisition procedure.

This does not necessarily mean that Design Thinking is a “failed experiment,” as Nussbaum asserts.  It does, however, point to a leadership failure that can cripple even the smartest corporation.  Once again, this famous saying gets pulled out from the bag, as an old business Yoda used to hammer into me, “a fool with a tool is still a fool.”   Please don’t be that fool.

Want to learn more about Design Thinking?

Join us for MRT’s FREE Webinar:

“Design Thinking: Extreme Customer-Driven Innovation”
Wednesday, August 22, 2012