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Emerging Biopharmaceutical Companies: Enabling Talent to Innovate in an Evolving Organisation

“The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance”
Alan Watts
Writer & Philosopher


By: Dom Faulkner, Senior Consultant, Syneos Health Consulting

I have increasingly strived to adopt this mantra within my work and personal life, particularly in these relatively uncertain times. This can be difficult to achieve on a personal level, and harder still to foster across an organisation. The human desire for control, over reliance on our “security system,” and instinct for self-preservation, particularly in times of stress and uncertainty, is well documented and often leads us to resist change. Amplify this individual resistance across an entire organisation, and change can disrupt operations and paralyse innovation. It is therefore vital for leaders to focus efforts to manage change as they build out operations and embark on the journey to market. Success in part, will rely on their ability to support individuals and their team to understand the vision, the path to achieve it, how to overcome resistance and enable even the most reluctant to “join the dance.”


Over this three-article series, we will explore how leadership at emerging biopharmaceutical companies can manage change effectively, and build out and support high-performing teams in an evolving organisation.


Key Challenges Facing Growing Teams

The decision to scale up operations and build out capabilities (e.g., governance, functional operating models, systems and talent) marks the beginning of an extended period of transformational change for an emerging biopharmaceutical company. On this journey, teams embark on multiple, simultaneous initiatives that will significantly affect company culture and individuals and how teams work. Naturally, this can be unsettling, and fear and resistance inevitably will spread throughout an organisation. If not addressed effectively, this resistance can paralyse an organisation, disrupting operations, innovation and potentially delaying progress to market. Despite this, it is easy for leaders not to dedicate sufficient time to understanding their teams’ needs and supporting them through the journey. Understandably, focus is overwhelmingly placed on clinical progress, securing funding and capability building. Change topics are often relegated to the “graveyard slot” in executive meetings, if not overlooked completely. However, as part of his thought-leading work, Kotter established that 70 percent of change initiatives fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistive behaviour and lack of management support. Therefore, it is clear that leaders must proactively deliver change management solutions to overcome this resistance. These solutions should be directed by a vision, culture and set of values that align the organisation and enable talent to innovate, and navigate the journey to market.


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