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The Bigger Picture

There’s been an underlying theme that I’ve noticed in a lot of my interactions with pharma training clients lately, especially coming out of the recent SPBT conference.

Nobody has time to grasp the bigger picture.

We have air traffic controllers, and coaches above the field in pressboxes, because somebody’s got to be looking at the bigger picture. And regularly relaying crucial information to the decision-makers. Right?

Interacting with many industry clients (and vendors!), I field questions like this all the time nowadays:

I can barely keep with what I’m supposed to be doing – what are others in the industry doing?

“How can we develop a long-term digital strategy?”

What will be roles of micro-learning, apps, legacy eLearning, and LMS systems in the coming 2 years?”

We’re rolling out these iPads – how are all of these fast-moving digital advances (together) going to re-shape our sales approach?

Our company has always done training a certain way – is there a strategic approach that makes more sense and saves time and money, using new technology? And how do we plan for culture change?

Then, there’s the whole issue of looking into the future, and seeing how it should be shaping decisions we make today. Who has the time and expertise for that when you’re trying to run a department??

These aren’t one-shot-deal consulting gigs with all the answers neatly wrapped up in a slide deck. This is dynamic, guided, creative evolution. That’s a different kind of consulting.

Most vendor/providers are focused on a narrow set of solutions to sell, and can’t really provide an unbiased outlook – while most clients are under pressure to make immediate and tactical decisions that often don’t reflect a bigger-picture perspective, or a more holistic strategic approach. It’s a combination that leads to short-term thinking. And, a lot of mistakes.

Attending a conference once a year, with a sprinkling of occasional webinars and blog posts, isn’t going to fix this. Particularly for Directors and VPs of Training, I’m seeing the need emerging for a Strategic/Digital Advisor – not a full-time insider role, but a retained industry-aware outside consultant who can provide ongoing perspective and expertise in a time of rapid evolution. Someone who is not advising with the built-in bias of a vendor/solutions provider, but who can help determine what providers (and approaches) are actually needed. A role that pays for itself many times over by ensuring that costly mistakes are avoided and optimal approaches and providers are selected.

I’ve done plenty of consulting on smaller-scale strategic and digital initiatives (training, marketing, communications), but this higher-level input seems to be where I’m getting increasingly called in. It’s a recognition of the need for longer-term planning and strategy. I’m concluding that this type of consulting will be a main Impactiviti focus (for a select handful of clients). Shameless plug, I know – but it’s a great “fit” for what I do best!

What do you think? Are you seeing, and feeling, this same strategic tension?


Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through trusted referrals.

Learn more about us here.

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