Thursday, May 26, 2011

6 key drives that have propelled Genentech to the top reputation in oncology

In one recent study of company reputation in oncology, Genentech occupied a tier of its own, with a significant lead over second-tier companies Novartis, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Sanofi-Aventis.  Third-tier includes Takeda/Millennium, Celgene, GSK, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Roche. The fourth-tier companies were Bayer Healthcare, Eisai, and J&J.

Genentech’s strong performance on the key driver attributes (those measures that are most important in driving perceptions of overall company performance) is responsible for propelling it into the top spot. In fact, Genentech ranks first on all six key driver attributes, with a significant lead over all other companies on all but one of the six.

The six key drivers are:
  1. The company is developing beneficial products
  2. The company shows increasing strength in oncology
  3. The company has an innovative R&D
  4. A company that I can trust
  5. Sales reps respect a physician’s time
  6. Sales reps are knowledgeable about a company’s products

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gout & Uric Acid Education Society brought evidence-based information resources to Internal Medicine conference

Getting the word out about preventing and treating gouty arthritis has new urgency with the number of Americans suffering from this form of arthritis now topping the 8 million mark. If left untreated, gout can be disabling. Gout is also associated with other serious health conditions, making it a complex diagnosis and treatment challenge for physicians. In addition to the core patient demographic of men age 40 plus, post-menopausal women are at increased risk.

To help bridge the information gap, for the first time, the nonprofit Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES) reached out to primary care providers during the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine 2011 conference in San Diego in April.

What is Gout?

Gout is caused by an accumulation of sodium urate crystals in the joints and other tissues. These crystals form when there is an abnormally high level of uric acid in the blood (a condition known as hyperuricemia).

"Early diagnosis and treatment, along with an understanding of co-morbidities is critical in helping patients gain control of this disease and continue to live an active lifestyle," said N. Lawrence Edwards, MD, GUAES chairman. He noted that serum urate is not part of the metabolic blood work panel but that elevated uric acid can be a precursor to gout. A uric acid level of 6.0 mg/DL or below is desirable.

At the Internal Medicine 2011 conference, GUAES representatives provided peer-reviewed information sources on the latest research, diagnosis and treatment solutions for this potentially disabling form of arthritis.

Complimentary patient educational tools were also available.

Medical professionals can access GUAES resources and pose questions to the organization's medical experts online by visiting

More About Gout

Gout, which affects approximately 8.3 million Americans, is one of the most painful forms of arthritis and the most common form of inflammatory arthritis among adults. Patients describe the pain of an attack as one that rivals the fracture of long bones. Gout causes sudden intense pain and swelling in the joints. Following their first attack of gout, approximately 60 percent of patients will experience another attack within the first year. If gout is left untreated it can lead to permanent joint damage and destruction of tissue.

About the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society and Gout Awareness Day
Formed in September 2005, the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society has a comprehensive patient education brochure, as well as a user-friendly Web site for patients, caregivers, family members and healthcare providers.

For more information about gout and the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society, please visit

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Achieving growth objectives through innovation

One driver for innovation programs in health, science, and technology organizations is to achieve growth objectives.  Leading business experts note that companies cannot grow through cost reduction and reengineering alone.  Innovation is a key element in providing aggressive top-line growth and for increasing bottom-line results.

A survey across a large number of manufacturing and services organizations found, ranked in decreasing order of popularity, that systematic programs of organizational innovation are most frequently driven by:
  1. Improved quality
  2. Creation of new markets
  3. Extension of the product range
  4. Reduced labor costs
  5. Improved production processes
  6. Reduced materials
  7. Reduced environmental damage
  8. Replacement of products/services
  9. Reduced energy consumption
  10. Conformance to regulations
I like this list of goals because it shows the breadth of improvements possible to products, processes and services.  Also because it runs counter to a prevailing impression that innovation focuses mostly on new product development.

These goals also demonstrate the variety of disciplines and departments that must be engaged to realize measurable impact of innovation.  A debate triggered by the book, Freakonomics, is whether we should be measuring the process of innovation or the results of innovation.  One point of view says, innovation can be measured by the additional profit it generates and expressed as a return on the investments made for that purpose. At the level of the industry or even economy as a whole, economists should use the concept of “total factor productivity.”

Others say what’s important is the journey to the end result. They argue that the focus should be on the means rather than the end — organizations shouldn’t think of innovation as something they can buy; rather, they need to put in place structures to support the process of innovation.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Difference Between “Brainstorming” and N-of-8

Creative thinking is no longer a skill that’s nice to have. As innovation takes center stage in the business arena, organizations have begun to demand that their people think creatively. It is a vital capability for any company that wants to ensure it is on the cutting edge of its field or category.

Because I work for a creative company, I regularly find myself questioning the best ways for an organization to think creatively. But the truth is that all companies need to be creative and innovative (especially at times like this).  That’s why this is a topic which should interest anyone. It should not be considered the sole right and territory of people in the so-called creative industries.

To help their people think creatively, companies are always looking for tools, techniques, and processes designed to generate unique and effective outcomes. One tried and true creative thinking tool—brainstorming—is making a comeback in offices everywhere. Go to the Web and search “brainstorming” to find thousands of sites on the topic.

But there’s a difference between a brainstorming session and an N-of-8 experience.

If not conducted properly, a brainstorming session becomes chaotic and directionless, and thus viewed by the participants as a waste of time. But if you take the time to create an N-of-8 experience, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in a short, focused time period.

One of the regular debates that come up in my world is balancing the need to treat and respect creativity of the individual with the power of group thinking to drive creativity. We all recognize that certain people are more blessed with powers of creative thinking than others.  This offers even more reasons to use an N-of-8 session instead of brainstorming.

When you call it innovation, instead of creativity, you open up the participants.
  • Creativity suggests an exclusive activity limited to people who can draw, who are artistic, and who are conspicuously right-brained.
  • Innovation is something to which anyone can contribute, as long as they are committed to working harder to build the knowledge base required for effective innovation.
Focus on strategic problem-solving, instead of simply quantity of ideas. Understand the brand, the business objectives, and the target customers.  This may sound like simple stuff, but it doesn’t have to be over-complex. Brainstorming has grown to connote “no rules or limits” even the admonition “there are no bad ideas.”  But without focus, idea generation lacks the basic requirements and definition of success, and becomes useless. So neither individual nor group thinking is helpful unless there is clear agreement on the definition of success. An N-of-8 session as described in this book offers that definition and purpose.

Another difference between brainstorming and this N-of-8 thinking is the use of guidance, facilitation, and focus. Too many teams just get in a room to “blue sky” about a particular issue. Without a leader, a brainstorming group can't think effectively. We might as well be exchanging emails or instant messages. When the leader's techniques are inspired by N-of-8, there is a clear method.

There are three key things a leader of an N-of-8 provides:
  • an environment that is conducive to innovation;
  • an experience fresh and exciting; and
  • a pace that gets and keeps the ideas flowing.
What if we went so far as to ban brainstorming (the word) and encourage N-of-8 thinking?
What's the difference...just words, or something more fundamental?

First up, words are fundamental, and the language you put around something will shape people's attitude towards it.

Second, it's about the difference between thinking in series or in parallel. Imagine a group of people as a collection of computers; then connect all those computers together, get them working on a single computation, and you will have access to massive computing power. But if you use them each individually and set them off computing on the same problem, they will do it no more effectively or quickly than one computer alone. That's the difference between a bunch of individuals all firing out their ideas, and a connected group of people thinking together powerfully.

Brainstorming to me implies the former...chaos, individualism, and too greater emphasis of divergent thinking. N-of-8 thinking allows for individual divergent thinking, yet disciplines it and captures it in a collective and convergent format. That's where the value lies.