‘Failure is not an option' said the C-suite pharma project sponsor. ‘This drug launch has been discussed at the board – so it has to succeed', he continued.
While aimed at rallying the troops, the leaders' remarks had unexpected consequences. They silenced open debate regarding the project plan, timeline and resources.
Given the tight and unforgiving regulatory deadlines involved, such debate was overdue. However, this is more than another story of how some senior executives struggle to engage with risk.
In the next project briefing, the sponsor surprised everybody by actually talking about project risk. This u-turn was brought about by data gathered from project stakeholders that raised questions about:
- The level of project rigor rated at 61%
- The level of clarity on the business fundamentals rated at 71%
The data provided the impetus for change. Levels of project confidence were optimized by 11% over six weeks.
Given the complexity involved, some questions remained, however the process of pit-stopping:
(a,) Changed the project dialogue, making discussing risks, dependencies & resources safe.
(b.) Enabled more effective cross-functional collaboration between scientific and commercial.
(c.) Reduced the noise and interference surrounding the project, making it easier for people to focus better on getting the work done.
Can your organization dialog project risk? Talk to us.