Shall we get properly organised (tomorrow)?

How systematically do you need to work in R&D?

A systematic, calm, planned, disciplined way of working. Is it a daily reality for you, a well-intentioned but elusive goal, an impossible dream, or perhaps something you don't really care about?

People fall into a diverse group of work personalities. But we all know the stereotypes of the 'clean desk' and the 'untidy desk' person.

But when we work together in groups and organisations, the demands for excellent performance, plus the imposition of certain minimum standards, should mean that we have to work in an organised way. Right? Well, sort-of.

The fact is that different business sectors and different professions or functions within them rate differently in how well-ordered their operations are. In the systematic-working olympics, the gold medals usually go to consumer manufacturers, and supermarkets. Would life science make it to, say, the bronze medal slot? Well, pharma manufacturing may do. But most R&D, Clinical or Marketing divisions, as well as Research-Academia collaborations wouldn't get onto the rostrum.

There are many systematic working, process development and improvement models that aim to tackle this situation. Portfolio management, Risk management and Decision making frameworks. There’s Agile project management and Lean Sigma.

These have all been introduced to the life science sector. In some areas they have been remarkably successful, but in others, typically in areas such as R&D, Clinical and marketing, they’ve struggled.

Some argue, perhaps with some justification, that the nature of R&D work in lifescience is more spontaneous, built around fragile projects, complex relationships and dealing with large uncertainties. But what is generating a more regimented approach to work is external pressure. From falling prices, competition, and above all, regulation. It's no wonder that manufacturing folks have been pushed for years, but the need to work more efficiently is hitting all players.

Capitalising on opportunities, rather than facing threats, is rarely met with a highly organised approach. Life science organisations, despite their innovative positioning, are well down the sector league table when it comes to disciplined innovation and change management practice.

Where do you stand on this topic - and how important is it? It's an interesting subject for the Pharmaceutical Industry Project Management Group (PIPMG) at their meeting on November 7th, in Camberley, UK. 'Project management methodologies - which add value and which are a waste of effort?' Check more detail here.

Do get in touch to discuss further and add your thoughts!

I work to improve collaboration in life science - projects, alliances and partnerships. I'd be delighted if you'd connect to me!

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