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Celebrating Smart Risks: Building an innovative culture

Creativity Equation is a custom podcast from FastCo Works and GSK. Join host Julianne Pepitone as she explores how some of the world’s biggest challenges are being tackled by the top players in biopharma.

Celebrating Smart Risks: Building an innovative culture
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On this episode, Julianne Pepitone sits down for a second conversation with GSK’s Chief Scientific Officer Hal Barron. People might think innovation in pharma is measured only in output (like the awaited vaccine). But to Hal, increasingly the innovation in pharma is also the process itself.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS EPISODE:

JULIANNE PEPITONE:

Bold and smart, it’s what everyone wants to be. It’s hard to put into practice when truly transforming your industry requires taking a leap. Hal, how do you define a smart risk, especially in your industry where what you’re making involves people’s health and safety?

HAL BARRON:

People don’t always notice this, but 90% of medicines that enter clinical testing at some point fail. But sometimes you can see through your analytics that certain molecules might have a higher than 10% and they might help more people. And then there’s others that might be even more likely to work, but help very few people. So it’s not just about whether you get it right, but it’s this whole calculus of how many patients you’re going to help. How long is it going to take? What’s it going to cost to develop the medicine? And more importantly, not fearing failure when you made a good decision.

One of the things we do oftentimes in talking about smart risk is talk about whether it was a good decision or a bad decision and whether it was a correct decision or an incorrect decision. In other words, you can have a good decision that was right, and that’s easy, we all celebrate those. But you can make a good decision that ended up being wrong. Oftentimes people who make a good decision that was wrong, regret it. What I think innovative cultures do is reward it. They say, “A good decision that was wrong, you should do again.” It’s a good decision. Keep doing it. In the long run, it’ll work out. I think innovative companies have that. I think you have to have a culture of rewarding smart risk-taking and be rigorous in defining it.

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FastCo Works is Fast Company's branded content studio. Advertisers commission us to consult on projects, as well as to create content and video on their behalf.

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