Summer Must Reads for Pharma
Discover what's on the reading list of these pharma leaders.
Voracious readers and industry leaders, Mike Rea, Jill Donahue, Emma Sutcliffe, and David Clarke share what they have been reading and which books they feel should be on everyone's reading list this summer.
“The challenge of pulling out recommended reads from the library is that this is the best time ever for a reader – so many people writing so well on so many subjects,” shares Mike Rea, CEO of IDEA Pharma, who tries to get through two books per week. Here’s what he came up with in his battle to narrow down his best reads.
By Pagan Kennedy
“Of all the books I have ever read on the science and art of invention, this is the best,” claims Rea. “Pagan Kennedy neatly defines the difference between invention and innovation, and then goes on to explore the art and science of invention. The book is incredibly readable, arguing for the reinvention of invention within industries.” For pharma, Rea points out, the author does suggest that there is a lot of invention in the healthcare space, but that pharma isn’t doing most of it. His favorite line in the book? “We need an R&D system like the system that protects our own bodies - open, obstreperous, and resilient.”
By Jamie Holmes
This book, according to Rea, is in the same vein as Inventology, but explores the flip side of the coin - the comfort with uncertainty that innovation demands. “It talks about the appalling state of our ability to predict, and rather than bemoaning that, it asks the question about what you would do if you accepted that prediction is hard,” explains Rea. “What you do is you innovate, and Nonsense explores the role of innovation.” Again, this book touches on medicine, and, like Inventology, suggests it is a place for huge opportunity. “The core predicament of medicine - the thing that makes being a patient so wrenching, being a doctor so difficult, and being a part of a society that pays the bills they run up so vexing, is uncertainty,” the author states, going on to explore how deep uncertainty runs within medicine and in caring for people, as well as the importance of how both patients and doctors cope with this uncertainty.
While Inventology and Nonsense made it to the top of Rea’s list, he can’t help but add, “Although I have chosen these two as recommendations for anyone interested in invention and innovation, the third would absolutely be The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley, which is one of those books that everyone should read, and having done so, pass around for everyone they know to read. As with Nonsense, it forces the reader to embrace uncertainty, rather than certainty.” Overall, Rea believes we should draw widely from literature, recommending books as wide-ranging as Dan Barber’s The Third Plate, where he examines the future of food and its ecosystem, Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman, which is a whirlwind tour through a subject we all think we understand, but don’t, to Philip Tetlock’s and Dan Gardner’s Superforecasting, which explores the art and science of prediction.
Jill Donahue, Author of EngageRx and founder of Excellerate asks, “Are you trying to create greater success; for yourself, your team or perhaps your children? Have you ever wondered, what is the most important thing you can do or teach them to spur their achievement?” If so, she recommends the following New York Times bestseller.
By Angela Duckworth
“The secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but rather grit; a word that summarizes a special blend of passion, purpose, deliberate practice and hope,” explains Donahue. “When I think of our movement in pharma to patient-centricity,” she adds, “I think these four words are key.” Duckworth outlines four ways to grow grit from the inside out:
1. Passion - Duckworth suggests grit begins with passion. However, she warns, passion is something we foster rather than follow. Most people would happily follow their passion, but they just don’t know what it is. The rampant myth is that falling in love with a career should be sudden and swift, but what science says is that “passion in your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development and then a lifetime of deepening.” “How are you helping your team (or yourself) develop that passion to serve patients?” Donahue challenges?
2. Practice – Successful people have a striking desire to excel beyond their already remarkable level of expertise. They achieve this through deliberate practice. As any coach will tell you, “consistency of effort over the long run is everything” (p. 50). Achievers first set a stretch goal in a very narrow aspect of their overall performance (e.g. in tennis, how you toss the ball prior to achieving your wicked serve). They then, with great effort, seek to reach that goal.
3. Purpose –“At its core, purpose is the idea that what we do matters to other people,” explains Donahue. “The big miss for most people is that they think this should come magically. They don’t realize they need to play an active role in identifying how their work contributes to the greater good.”
4. Hope - Grit depends on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. Instead of having a feeling that tomorrow will be better, resolve to make tomorrow better. “One of my favorite quotes, from Henry Ford,” Donahue shares, “is‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.’ With practice, you can modify your self-talk and change the way you think, feel and act when the going gets rough.”
For further insights into Grit, enjoy Donahue’s summary here, and then ask yourself, “Is there room to deepen my grit; to delve into my passion, improve my practice, focus more on my purpose and increase my hope?” “Seems to me it’s worth it!” says Donahue.“We can all use more grit!”
Emma Sutcliffe, Consultant Director of Patient Engagement at Grünenthal and regular eyeforpharma columnist offers a work-related and personal read.
By Jeff Elton and Anne O'Riordan
Healthcare Disrupted describes wealth innovation and the new patient economy that is driving digital services and shaping R&D. “It's an incredibly useful reference point as within Grünenthal, we are embarking on patient-centricity and authenticating relationships with patients as early as possible in translational medicine,” shares Sutcliffe. “'Patient-directed R&D' is our remit and this book has shaped how we are aligning internally to achieve that.”
by Paul Kalanithi
“I found Paul Kalanithi's autobiography about his death from cancer to be a juxtaposing read,” says Sutcliffe, who goes on to describe the book as both “mind blowing” and “heartbreaking.” “The things we value when we are given a time limit is an inspirational wake-up call,” she says. Along the same lines, Sutcliffe is also following the end-of-life journey of Kate Granger (@GrangerKate) on Twitter, who created the 'Hello... My name is' social media campaign. “Kate, like Paul, has a legacy or words about patient care that will be read for years to come and has already changed what it means to be a patient,” Sutcliffe believes.
David Clarke, Director of Ethical Reach Ltd., recommends a book within his own area of expertise – marketing.
“All Marketers are Liars covers elements of Storytelling within Marketing, a topic I am really interested in,” reveals Clarke. “I feel that pharma needs to pay closer attention to this area.” Clarke also feels that there are many ways, from the vast data repositories the industry has, that pharma can convert data into stories that convey messages. “All marketers tell stories,” he says, “and if they do it right, we believe them. A good story is where genuine customer satisfaction comes from. It's the source of growth and profit and it's the future of your organization. This is what makes it all work: a complete dedication to, and embracing of, your story.” In All Marketers are Liars, Seth Godin shows how to discover and tell brilliant, authentic stories that will set you and your products or service apart from the competition.
So, whether you're looking to develop grit, hone your inventive muscle, excel at marketing, or delve deeper into the world of the patient, these recommendations could help you along the way.
If you have a "must read" book for the pharma industry, please comment below and let us know why.
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