In reviewing the remarkable rise of Barack Obama to the Presidency, several aspects of his grass roots movement and consensus building efforts standout that we can learn from. Here are a few attributes of success in driving complex innovation projects:
- Common Interests – he focused his program, staff, website, and initiatives quite often on common interests among these groups rather than focusing on what divides them. This approach provided an opportunity for those that disagreed on an issue to work on a common ground to build on and develop an initiative moving forward.
- Collaboration – his campaign used Web 2.0 technology to collaborate with diverse groups and interests. Citizens were invited to participate, setup home meetings, send in ideas, join issue groups and become engaged. This leads to a spirit of ownership and follow through when the initiative is finally implemented.
- Transparency – all documents and issue policy statements are available for everyone to view and discuss on the change.gov website. Obama’s leadership style has been to have news conferences often and open, with time for Q & A.
- Technology – social technology is used to foster, encourage, and give the process of consensus building momentum. Wikis, blogs, discussion groups, websites, text messaging, video casts, and alerts are all used to enable participation.
- Set Audacious Goals – Obama set his team to work on goals that seemed at one time out of reach, but also caught everyone’s imagination, and sense of purpose. Setting audacious goals brings momentum, vision and engagement to the solving of complex seemingly impossible problems.
The healthcare industry is in the midst of major changes to reimbursement, coverage, cost/effectiveness evaluation, clinical development trial capacity limitations combined with a loss in R & D productivity. A colleague of mine recently talked with R & D leaders in several top 5 pharma companies and he noted how these leaders were all were looking in diverse directions to figure out how to increase the productivity, effectiveness and reduce costs for new drug development. The problem is much bigger than any one-drug firm. This is a complex adaptive system involving regulators, payers, providers, producers and patients toward a solution to reduce the time to introduce a new medication to patients. As noted in my previous blog note of December 12th, over the past five years, R & D spending has doubled, while the number of new drugs delivered to patients has actually dropped by half. It now takes an average of over 7 years to bring a new drug to patients. Seven years for drug development is just too long. Using some of the organizational development ideas from the Obama campaign: common interests, collaboration, transparency, social technology, and audacious goals will go along way toward reducing the time to patient for new drug therapies.