Social business design: how pharma can self-medicate

L0050403 Pages from the account book of a medical practitionerPeter Kim recently took the opportunity of welcoming newly-acquired social business consultancy Headshift to the Dachis Group (itself ‘created to unlock the value of social technologies for large corporate enterprises’) to restate of the foundations of social business design as they perceive it:

  • business partner organization
  • workforce collaboration
  • customer participation.

As David Cushman remarks in a clear-sighted summary of the necessity of adopting a social business design model,

The people who can make the biggest difference to your company don’t work for it. Adapting to the network means they can[…] If there is a part of your business that can’t be disrupted by adhoc communities of purpose (forming online to improve on what you currently do) you are in an extremely enviable position.

Dachis offers a contemporary, persuasive take on the contemporary business environment with a number of heavy-hitting opinion leaders on their bench. I should imagine that every business who engages their services will conclude that they have added significant value to their enterprise.

However, whilst Dachis count a number of health care brands among their roster of clients, they can’t work with everyone.

It would seem to me that with the resources they are capable of marshaling, most pharma companies could heal a number of the afflictions that ail them by self-medicating with the principles of social business design.

It’s time to go beyond buffing your Twitter account, cultivating your Facebook page, sorting your StumbleUpon links, and tuning in your YouTube channel.

In short, it’s time to redesign your marketing strategies using the precepts of social business design.

  • View your B2B associates as partners, not vendors.
  • Design, implement, and make colleagues take personal responsibility for and ownership of an effective social media governance policy for internal and external use.
  • Finally, and most importantly for your purposes, participate with your customers in an authentic, transparent way.

Defining who your customers are depends on where you’re doing business, of course, but I am going to define this as the patient.

Personalized medicine, patient health records, patient activism and advocacy are going to drive change in health care.

The challenge facing any given pharma company is to redesign its business to be able to meet patients where they want to find it.

Which channels are you going to choose?

2 thoughts on “Social business design: how pharma can self-medicate

  1. I think you’re probably correct when you say, “It would seem to me that with the resources they are capable of marshaling, most pharma companies could heal a number of the afflictions that ail them by self-medicating with the principles of social business design.”
    Coming from Pfizer, now working for Headshift (Dachis Group) and having some insight into other Pharmas it’s obvious there are some really switched on people in the organisation.
    The problem is it’s kind of chicken and egg. The people inside the organisation have trouble connecting with each other because they can’t find each other. Something they would solve with Social Business. But then they can’t get social business off the ground since they don’t get to a large enough critical mass.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. We were discussing this at the #hcsmeu event last week. IMO, and in spite of their existing change management processes, this concept will fly like a stone within the confines of the business design(s) favoured by the the pharmaceutical industry in their present form.

    To be more concise: it is my opinion that few, if any, pharma companies will ever achieve a sufficient critical mass to affect change in the manner you describe.


    Because most pharma companies are too big, too diverse, too complex, and host too many voices.

    This is also precisely why the precepts of social business design could be so valuable to them: theirs is a heterogeneous business pretending to be a homogeneous one. Their voices are polyphonic, not monophonic.

    As such, they are naturally suited to a nodal program of social business design. The communities that each division serves in each territory will have their own needs. In order to best serve them, responsibility for business design must be devolved down to a business unit level in order to be effective.

    What pharma needs to do most of all at this point is to embrace this contradiction that it has tried to disguise, and perceive the immense value of doing so.

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