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4 Step Approach to Taking the Risk out of Drug Launches … it’s all About Thinking like NASA’s Mission Control Team

When it comes to the launch of a new drug, there’s a lot on the line. Pharma leaders know the risks. Yet, 50% of drug launches over the past 8 years have underperformed analyst expectations. Even more alarming, one in four launches don’t even hit 50% of the forecasted revenues.

As pharma leaders, you know that there are many factors causing drug launches to underperform – from clinical differentiation to advocacy. But there is one big, overlooked preventable factor: the leadership approach for launch.

In fact, successful launches require pharma leaders to take the same leadership approach that NASA’s Mission Control uses to manage space flights from the point of launch until landing.

Here’s why:

While the complexity, scale and cost of drug launches have changed, pharma leaders still rely on outdated, siloed team structures. These prevent the crucial mechanisms of cross-functional decision-making and collaboration needed for a modern drug launch. Teams need leaders that enable them to be able to respond to critical issues quicker, make bolder decisions, pivot in the face of regulatory changes and adapt rapidly to competitors.

The Mission Control Approach

There’s hope on the horizon. The Mission Control approach focuses on the necessary behaviors, structures, processes and integration needed for a successful drug launch.

The model illustrates how separate disciplines can drive their own objectives whilst maintaining cross-functional alignment by establishing a shared vision/purpose, strategy and decision-making.

mission control

At the heart of the model is a shared vision and purpose. This helps your team agree on the why and the common goals required for launch. Your purpose defines why you exist, what you do and how you add value. Purpose leads to vision. Your vision is your desired future state. It is the aspirational (but defendable) target that your purpose will lead you to.

Wrapping the approach is an agency collaboration model that balances the external and internal drivers of success. Teams are aligned on working together on three key areas: strategy, decision-making and execution. They can interact quickly with environmental factors like market research and public affairs.

A successful drug launch needs a team that can effectively work together. Mission Control gives leaders the model to make that happen.

A Faster, Aligned Team that Beats Expectations


What does success look like with Mission Control? Pharma leaders experience results in the following areas when adopting a mission control approach.

Faster, responsive decision making. Teams are able to make faster decisions, remove obstacles quickly, and respond to change.

Fully equipped sales teams. Sales teams have the right messages and capabilities. They are able to provide early context to payers and generate buy-in from health care professionals.

Improved revenue prospects. Mission control approaches can drive first-year revenues of at least 120% of expectations.

Making it happen

Our Mission Control approach can get you launched in 90 days. Here’s our four-phase approach to get you up and running in no time.

PHASE 1: United – Align internal stakeholders around a common vision. Create collaboration and simplicity.

PHASE 2: Excited – Prioritize investments and actions. Mobilize teams that are motivated to deliver.

PHASE 3: Delivered – Start delivery of top priorities aligned with our combined strategy.

PHASE 4: Sustained – Engage and align employees to strategy.

Ready for liftoff?

If you're looking to increase the success of your next drug launch, get in touch.
Andy is a Senior Principal and a member of the global leadership team at Daggerwing Group. In his role, Andy serves as a source of strategic counsel to Executives of many of the world’s largest companies facing major business transformation challenges – from mergers, acquisitions, and spin-offs, to enterprise-level changes to culture, ways of working, and operating models. A specialist in the people side of change, Andy brings almost 20 years of experience helping drive Executive Alignment, leadership change readiness, and effective employee engagement to ensure change happens and sticks. Andy is an active speaker, thought leadership writer, and catalyst for service innovation within Daggerwing. In his spare time, he is on a quest to try every cheese the UK produces.