Tag: Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Innovation Radar: Brilliant Mistakes – Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure

Everybody knows of instances in their own life where initial “mistakes” or wrong decisions turned out to be exactly the right thing. Trivial examples include going to a party that you never really wanted to attend and ending up meeting the person of your life – or running ten minutes late and thereby avoiding a fatal car crash that had just occured down the road.

But what about the most carefully managed area in life – your own career and business? Thinking that wrong business decisions must mean the end of your career? The opposite may be the case, says Paul J.H. Schoemaker, research director of Wharton’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation and chairman and founder of consulting firm Decision Strategies International.

In his book Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure, Schoemaker argues that mistakes often open the door to totally new perspectives and findings – and help you reinvent your business or personal career for good. Mistakes have been the basis for many innovations that revolutionized the way we live today – including the discovery of penicillin and the development of ATM machines.

Knowledge@Wharton features an interview with Paul J.H. Schoemaker, who talks about the concept of brilliant mistakes – i.e. ignoring conventional wisdom at the time – and the innovative potential of this approach. Being risk averse, he says, is not going to take businesses very far and will kill their productivity and their ability to adapt to new markets and opportunities. Instead, both executives and researchers should be able to learn from surprises and turn failures into successes by looking at them from a totally different angle.

Certainly an interesting concept for anyone working in an industry that is characterized by decreasing productivity, lack of true innovation and stagnation – e.g. the pharmaceutical sector. After all, cost-cutting and consolidation have not emerged as effective means to spur innovation.

Interview with Paul J.H. Schoemaker on Brilliant Mistakes

Food for Thought: In Search of Faster Cures

Last month, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsilvania dedicated a special edition of their prestigious Knowledge@Wharton newsletter to the biopharmaceutical industry. Most importantly, the authors dealt with the pressing question how the industry may continue to develop innovative drugs – and get them approved faster.

Summarizing the current challenges, the report states that “no one doubts that the drug industry’s traditional model for developing new cures is badly broken. Fewer exciting new medicines are reaching patients these days, even as spending on research and development has risen and blockbuster drugs that have long been the backbone of pharmaceutical profits have lost their patent protection. A widening gap divides the discovery of promising new laboratory compounds from the ability to turn them into innovative therapies. A similar gap separates recent scientific gains in understanding genes from the creation of new drugs that use this knowledge to fight disease.”

The report tackles key elements of the ongoing transformation of the biopharmaceutical industry, ranging from novel drug development approaches such as personalized medicine, open-source research, pricing policies, and the latest efforts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up regulatory processes. One of the most conclusive observations is that partnering and strategic alliances are becoming more important than ever to meet the requirements of the changing pharma industry. However, despite identifying the crucial pieces of the puzzle, it remains to be seen how both established and new biopharmaceutical companies can cope with the challenges of a transforming industry.

Food for Thought: Re-thinking Operations for a Two-speed World

How to sustain in both high and slow growth markets at the same time? The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have teamed up to analyze the most recent trend for global businesses: meeting the requirements for two different rates of growth, fast and slow, simultaneously. While regions like Europe, North America and Japan have turned to slow growth rates, emerging economies like China, India and Brazil are characterized by fast growth. To succeed in this so-called “two-speed world”, companies must develop different strategies, new products, and innovative, low-cost operating models.

According to BCG, big pharma expects about 70% of future business to flow from developing countries. To stay in the game, companies will have to develop a sound corporate strategy to cope with both speeds. Key strategic differentiators include profit vs. growth, best price vs. best value, differentiated product design, and new (interal) reward systems for meeting market expansion goals. Smaller biopharmaceutical companies will need to adapt to these changes, too, if they want to sustain in this two-speed world.

The full report called “Rethinking Operations for a Two-speed World”, which was published in early Febuary, can be downloaded here