Customer-centric pharma is a challenging road, but it’s worth it

For many of us working in the pharmaceuticals industry, we are driven to make life better for people. To do that effectively you need to understand what people need, be they patients or other users of your products.

This is blatantly obvious, yet things get in the way. In my first year working in pharma, I have been stunned by how many companies are structured by product, paralysed by compliance fear, escalate decisions away from customers and up the hierarchy, and rely on blunt sales metrics. I’m sorry if that upsets you; it does me.

If we look outside of our industry, there are some fantastic examples of companies benefiting from going all in on customer-centricity. Take Haier, the world’s leading appliance manufacturer. During 2012-18, 12,000 managerial positions were abolished, and the 70,000 employees were put into thousands of 10-15 people companies. Each of them operates entrepreneurially in pursuit of ‘complete obedience to users’, with reward directly linked to user value creation.

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