Has Innovation Just Become An Infectious Disease?

Has Innovation Just Become An Infectious Disease?

John Nosta 11/10/2018 4

Be careful, the company is febrile. Fluttering hearts, sweaty palms, anxiety, and delusions of grandeur are the other symptoms that seem to be transmitted from company to company--starting with the Chief Infection Officer.

It just might be the new corporate flu that is driving change...

  • Fail fast
  • Focus on the customer.
  • Disrupt markets
  • Hack everything.
  • Save the world.

Pass the tissues, I'm gonna sneeze.

Today's strategic imperative seems to be around the notion of "innovate or die" and that idea might be a little bit too close to the truth for many. But the whole idea of innovation for some of pharma seems more vague and focused on both an ambiguous endpoint and a fuzzy process.  Innovation is served up as an ingredient in a process that offers an expectation of magical transformation. Never in a box, innovation is that unbridled perspective that everyone tires to (paradoxically) put into a package and sell to their customers.

So, we have an epidemic. Accelerators, incubators and bean bag chairs give me goose bumps. Could it be that there's just too much innovation? I don't think that's the case.  But I do believe that the germ of innovation can grow in different ways that are very powerful--both transformative and malignant!  The role of innovation is more a function of applying invention to a marketplace. Amazon and Apple have largely mastered this process and have ignited the flame of consumer-centricity in the life sciences industry. And yet, the role of innovation in pharma can live in the unpredictable space where invention can be both directed and serendipitous. The phosphodiesterase inhibitors are a classic example where were invention in management of heart failure lead to the innovation of treatment of erectile dysfunction.  Was this a planned outcome or opportunistic decision that allowed Pfizer to pivot at the right place and the right time?

It seems that an "innovation strategy" might be the best weapon against the burden of creativity that can plague purpose, process and people. Innovation isn't easy and adding method to madness might be health step forward. Ideally, the intersection of invention (purposeful or serendipitous) with carefully established market needs (apparent and unknown) can drive a process a bit akin to the well-established drug development methodology. We're not putting innovation in a box, but providing smart guidance that can channel the fever of desire into real productivity.

A version of this article first appeared on Forbes.

About the Author

I am the Founder of NOSTALAB -- a leading digital health think tank providing business and marketing insights to help the life science industry navigate the complex aspects of innovation in the context of exponential change. I help define, dissect and deliberate global trends in digital health as an active participant working with clinicians, innovators and patients.

Follow me @JohnNosta for an enlightening and unexpected view of the future.

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  • Andrew Bennett

    Innovation in healthcare is the reason that more people across the world today life significantly longer than they did a century ago.

  • Kayleigh Catherall

    While significant gains have been made in healthcare services in the UK much still need to be to bring the quality of healthcare at par with global standards.

  • Jo Russell

    Providing people with access to multiple healthcare providers is a subset of innovative healthcare and is something much needed !

  • Cheryl Williams

    Real innovation in healthcare is essential.....

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John Nosta

Digital Health Expert

John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

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