During the long downturn in R&D productivity, a handful of biopharmaceutical companies have consistently bucked the trend. How did they manage it? After all, they have experienced the same industry pressures as their peers—pressures such as lengthier R&D cycle times, higher costs of failure, and sharper regulatory scrutiny.
The main differentiating factor turns out to be organizational effectiveness: the way that the R&D organization creates a context that encourages cooperative behavior among its staff. A promising approach in this regard is to pursue smart simplicity, a potent new system for managing the complexity of modern organizations and turning it to advantage.
The case of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company is instructive. Already one of the outperformers, the company has developed a program that further enhances cooperative behavior among its workforce. R&D leaders at other companies can draw valuable lessons from the case, though they will, of course, have to take their company’s own unique circumstances into account.