Thursday, November 12, 2020

g-f(1)20 Agile Leadership at Pfizer Produces Excellent Results

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The agile leadership of Pfizer has produced a Covid-19 vaccine candidate with an excellent potential. The benefits and impact are amazing. Linda A. Hill (@linda_a_hill, Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration and faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School, Cofounder of Paradox Strategies, and coauthor of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation) explains how agile leadership is brilliantly executed at Pfizer.

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  • Innovation is hard work. It thrives on diversity and conflict. It takes candor to identify and mitigate risk, and it takes courage to accept the inevitable missteps and pivots that occur along the way.
  • Aligning people in your organization with a sense of shared purpose requires an answer to two fundamental questions: Why do we exist, and whom do we serve?
  • Michael Ku, a vice president at Pfizer, knows how hard innovation can be in these complicated times. His organization is responsible for the global supply chain for all of the company’s clinical trials. Well before COVID-19 arrived, Ku established his team’s raison d’être: to deliver breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. His team proudly wears “hope pins,” designed by a pediatric patient in one of Pfizer’s drug trials, as a tangible reminder of what drives their work.
  • Ku said the crisis energized his team members to become innovative problem-solvers. They understand that their work is vital to society. “We have a clearly defined purpose, and that helps guide our ‘what’ and ‘how,’” he said.
    • Imagine the ingenuity, sense of ownership, and coordination required to deliver experimental medicines to clinical sites in 70 countries when business as usual is disrupted by a pandemic.
  • You must also help your team learn together at speed — which may require you to fight your natural instincts to take charge. Dr. Rakesh Suri, CEO and chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, told me that, as is the case for so many leaders in times of crisis, his reflex was to try to steer the ship. “I’m a surgeon,” he said. “When I see blood, I’ve been taught to put my finger in it to stop the bleeding.”
  • But he realized that rather than setting direction and getting his organization to follow him into the future, he needed to create the conditions for his team to cocreate that future with him. “I need to hyper-empower my people to reimagine how we’re going to do things,” he said.
  • As Dr. Suri explained to his organization, every assumption must be considered a “working hypothesis”: Collect intelligence, validate data, develop working hypotheses based on that data, act on those hypotheses, and then learn from the results.
  • Creating the conditions for experimentation to flourish requires that you assess how well your structure, processes, and cadence are organized for rapid decision-making and action. For example, when COVID-19 took hold earlier this year, many leaders realized that they would be overwhelmed during the crisis if they did not distribute leadership responsibilities. They created teams that were empowered to make decisions and execute with speed.
  • The agile leadership of Pfizer has produced a Covid-19 vaccine candidate with an excellent potential. The benefits and impact are amazing. 
  • WSJ. Pfizer PFE -0.47% and its partner BioNTech said Monday (Nov. 9, 2020) their Covid-19 vaccine candidate is more than 90% effective in preventing infections, based on an interim data analysis. While a safety evaluation is ongoing, the companies said no serious issues have been observed in the trial. Pfizer expects to apply for emergency-use authorization with U.S. regulators before the end of the month and could have a green light to distribute the vaccine before the year ends.
  • The New York Times. The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday (Nov. 9, 2020) that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people. 
  • WSJ. After Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine Bull’s-Eye, Stock Market Euphoria Is Justified. The moment the world has been waiting for is finally within reach. 
    • Wall Street responded by betting that a return to normal life will happen sooner than previously thought: stocks of airlines, cruise operators and sit-down restaurants surged Monday morning, while “stay-at-home” plays such as Peloton Interactive and Teladoc Health sold off sharply. 
    • Still, the general optimism is well-founded given the vaccine’s extraordinary current efficacy rate. The annual flu shot is about 40% to 60% effective in a given year. Pfizer’s blockbuster pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar 13, reduces the risk of hospitalization by 73% in senior citizens. While the final rate might decline as the trial concludes, there is little doubt that the vaccine will be an effective public health tool.
    • Pfizer shares rocketed 15% higher, though that reaction seems based more on sentiment than reality: even a blockbuster vaccine wouldn’t make a huge difference to such a large company’s financials.
  • Fox News. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla sold $5.6 million of company stock Monday as shares soared 15% on the news that a late-stage trial found the company’s COVID-19 vaccine to be 90% effective.
    • Bourla sold 132,508 Pfizer shares at a price of $41.94 apiece through a scheduled Rule 10b5-1 trading plan adopted on Aug. 19, one day after the company announced positive results from a Phase 1 study. He owned 81,812 Pfizer shares following the planned sale.

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[genioux fact extracted from MIT SMR, WSJ, The New York Times, Fox News]

Authors of genioux fact

Fernando Machuca


Being the Agile BossLinda A. Hill, August 11, 2020, MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2020, Vol 62, No 1.

After Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine Bull’s-Eye, Stock Market Euphoria Is Justified, Charley Grant Nov. 9, 2020, Wall Street Journal.

Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective, Katie Thomas, David Gelles and Carl Zimmer, Nov. 9, 2020, The New York Times.

Pfizer CEO unloads $5.6M of stock as coronavirus vaccine hopes send shares soaring, Jonathan Garber, Nov. 11, 2020, Fox News.

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