As a non-executive you probably don’t have either the position power or authority to make the organizational changes we are talking about to better align your pharmaceutical company with the evolving new healthcare market. To increase your probability for success and to help reduce your personal risk of suggesting organizational change here are some steps to consider.
WARNING! This is a lot of work but is really important.
Most people who recognize a need for change feel they have done their part by complaining about the situation to their manager, telling their peers about the problem, or bringing it up in a meeting. Managers quickly and easily dismiss complaining and see continuously talking about a problem and the meeting “zinger” as disruptive and non-constructive. It is hard to be taken seriously without well thought out concepts that have reasonable plans for making the changes. So, here are some things to consider:
First, do your homework. If you are going to recommend a change or different course of action you need to have the facts and have your recommended course of action well thought out. The more detail you think through, the more likely you are to understand how and why your idea might be dismissed. Although not all good ideas are accepted, they are usually defensible and harder to dismiss if they are well thought out. These are not all inclusive but should get you thinking.
- Why the need for change? What are the benefits?
- What specific actions are you recommending?
- How much will it cost? Are there collateral (indirect) costs?
- Who does this change affect? Who might not like this change?
- What outcomes would you expect?
- What are the downsides for making the change? How can you avoid or mitigate them?
- How would you measure progress?
- Based on your homework and assessment, is it still worth doing?
Second. Are there colleagues, peers or better yet a manger or two you can bounce ideas and thinking off without making it look like you are actually ready to implement? You know sounding boards and the trial balloons. If you can, begin to enlist their support, even if they are uncomfortable to be vocal at first. Be sure to protect their confidence by not disclosing their thinking to others without their permission.
Third. Develop an implementation plan (campaign) and break it down into small steps. It may take longer than you might like to get to your change but it will be less threatening to your management and you can build credibility with small accomplishments that can be use as platforms for the next steps. If you meet resistance, try to figure out why and find ways to address the concerns. If it still makes sense and is worth pursuing, don’t give up to early because you don’t get a warm reception on your first tries in your first steps.
Fourth. Find outside help in a consultant with expertise in the area you are working on or a supplier you currently work with who understands what you are trying to accomplish. You can enlist their help with presentations, strategy session, and take advantage of their expertise by engaging them in discussions about what you are trying to do. Just like kids seem to listen to everybody except the own parents, sometimes an outside confirming voice can help reinforce your message, increase reception of the concept, and unblock resistance.
Fifth. Be patient and don’t expect too much to happen too fast, especially if you are looking to make significant, big changes that require a lot of money or that affect a lot of people.