• jeffreypkiplinger

Is It Time to Think About the Future?

Zymewire surveyed their connections in the biotech/pharma service provider space about 10 days ago on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on business.

Clinical services providers are seeing the greatest impact due to slow initiation of planned trials; CDMOs are seeing the least. All the sector predicts a down quarter and some cash flow issues, but they expect the impact to be short term. In other words, expect a healthier 2021.

However, there are some issues.

The first is that the CDMO ecosystem reports that for the most part, workers still need to be present to get work done - this is not an industry that can be productive by Zoom meeting, at least not yet.

The second is that among the survey respondents, the CEOs were most worried about their jobs, which I'm sure reflects their responsibility for the bottom line.

Third, it appears that many companies feel they will be able to contribute in some way to the Covid-19 fight, presumably using their core expertise, resources and infrastructure. I know a few BD leaders who've told me they were able to pivot and capture urgent timeline projects. They're justifiably proud of being able to contribute.

The questions I'm asking are "How do you set up your company to be agile in the face of a new crisis, or a new opportunity? What can we do now that will create that kind of company? Shouldn't leaders be trying to envision and build better companies, rather than worried about near term bottom line?"

There's a way we can build companies that are better equipped for uncertainty in the future. They're agile, adaptable, and leverage talented leadership and tactical flexibility. Here's a formula:

1. Plan strategically, but build in tactical flexibility

2. Empower and train leadership

3. Build a culture that allows continuous experimentation and change

Easy, right? Of course not, especially given the way most of us work now - in a short term focused, layered and hierarchical structure with more attention to the status quo than to the uncertain future. The only thing that's inevitable is change. Remembering Peter Drucker, "The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity."


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