[photopress:And_the_dreams_dissapear_sm.png,full,alignright]One of the most fascinating companies at the BRITE conference was Eli Lilly, represented by Marc Kershisnik, Executive Director of Market Research.
It is one thing to talk about putting the customer at the center of your offering instead of your product or your company – but how do you do that when you are a pharmaceutical giant?
Eli Lilly seems to have figured that out – they no longer look at the drug as a way to fix a discreet biological/physiological problem, but instead at how the drug will fit within a sick patient’s lifestyle – so in effect putting the patient at the center of the offering. And that is not just in marketing, it starts at the time of product conception and product/market requirements, continues throughout the drug development phase, into clinical trials, and all the way to market introduction.
A good example of that is how they started the oncology on canvas community, which enables cancer patients to express how they deal with their disease though stories and art. They did not start this community after launching a new oncology drug – they started it before having any oncology drug offering.
Another example is how they dealt with their osteoporosis offering in France. The drug is for people with severe bone loss – the type who cannot take a child on their lap without causing a fracture. The treatment regenerates the whole bone structure and cures the disease in 18 months. The only problem is that patients need a daily injection of the drug for 18 month – something that many patients would give up or skip frequently enough to bring the outcome of the treatment in jeopardy. So how did they solve the problem? They enlisted an army of paid nurses to help patients with their daily treatment. In doing so they did not disrupt the patient-doctor trust relationship by injecting themselves into the process (which probably would not have worked anyway). They also focused not on the biological problem that the drug was curing, but instead on the patient ‘s lifestyle during the disease treatment process. The success ratio of the treatment in France: 90%.
No wonder then that a company with this amount of foresight would also transform itself from the inside out. Most recently they conducted one of the largest Vision Jams within their company – 6 days of 24 hour online brainstorming among 40,000 employees on the future strategy for the company. The whole strategy for Eli Lilly’s 15 year plan was created from the bottom up and not from the top down.
Now who said that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks? Of course it helps that the company does not think of its main purpose as making money for shareholders, but instead of considering its primary purpose and duty in the marketplace as treating diseases.
Guess what – with a strategy and market attitude like that, long term profits and shareholder returns will probably never be the problem.
PS – also check out my partner Lois Kelly’s post on the same topic…