4 Vital Steps In Pharma Artwork Improvement Projects: Communication, Road mapping, Momentum and Leadership

In the first article of this series, we introduced the first three of our key learnings from implementing artwork improvement projects: Compelling urgency, sponsorship and vision. In this next article in the series, we will look at the next four key learnings.

Key Learning 4 Communication communicate across the extended organisation. Help people understand what’s in it for them

Labelling and artwork processes are typically highly labour intensive, involving many tens or hundreds of people from across an organisation and its partners. Furthermore, in many cas­es, the people carrying out the process are doing so for less than 10% of their time and do it in their own location. Therefore, the successful implementation of any change rests on a project’s ability to effectively communicate with this very wide audience.

Don’t forget that, in order to get any individual to fully accept a change, it is not only nec­essary for them to understand how the change impacts them, but also to understand what is in it for them.

One useful way to visualise the change management problem that communication plays a key role in helping, is to consider the child’s game with different shaped pegs and holes, the objective being to match the right shaped peg with the right shaped hole. A typical change project will spend a lot of time creating the pegs. Communication, amongst other activities, helps create the corresponding holes, which in turn prevent the need for the project to use force to drive their pegs into non-matching holes, which in turn usually leads to failure of all or part of the program.

Also remember that people take time to understand and accept change. Therefore, suc­cessful communication is far from a onetime activity. One of the more well-known com­munication phrases is “7 times in 7 ways”, which not only captures the need for multiple communications, but also makes it clear that, to be effective, the communication needs to take different forms.

Communicating to such a large group of people, often spread across the world, requires a significant amount of planned effort on the part of a change program. It is not unusual for a large labelling and artwork change activity to have team members dedicated to the task of planning and executing communication throughout the life of the program.

Key Learning 5 : Roadmap — ensure there is a path to deliver solutions. Involving the right groups in delivery

An Artwork Program usually is a compound of multiple projects that need to be orchestrat­ed through a coordinated program. To keep each project going, you have to define all the members’ roles, clearly stating who’s doing what. It is critical to integrate all the relevant parts of the extended organisation and there should be no doubt that they will be held accountable for delivering their assigned components.

The artwork projects can be held over a very long period of time. With a number of people involved in so many projects, there is a great risk of losing track of the scope defined at the beginning, leading to not delivering the outcomes that were expected. Stating clear scope and boundaries for each project helps to remove any ambiguity that can rise over time on what has to be done by each team member.

Define your program like a journey, being clear on every step of the way. You have to know where you go right from the start to deliver the right solution at the right time. This trip has to focus on each step along the way putting the most important improvement first. To get going, the trip needs fuel. It is critical to provide the travellers with the right resources at the right moment along the path to arrive on time and also at the right place as it was defined at the beginning of your Artwork programme journey.

Taking the trouble to shape all your projects with clear scopes and roles assigned for all par­ticipants in an Artwork Programme help them to understand the changes taking place and fulfil their active part in the realization of the project.

Key Learning 6 Keep momentum — how will you maintain interest to keep your program going?

We have already defined our Artwork Implementation Project as a long journey and demon­strated it was critical to provide the right resources at the right time. Such a long timeline can lead to Management losing their focus to get the programme to the finish line, leading to discouragement among the project teams. To avoid that, some tactics can help to keep your program going no matter the challenges met along the way.

As a living creature, an organisation is always in movement and modifies its priorities to adapt to its ever evolving environment. These external pressures can distract the leadership leading to pull on resources from your project to reassign to the new identified priorities. An Artwork project is always complex and represents difficulties to overcome and new tech­nologies to implement. These issues usually create concern, sap the energy of the team and reduce the focus on what has to be achieved. It is critical to keep showing the leadership and the teams the improvements already delivered to maintain energy and optimism.

To maintain momentum during the implementation and avoid the risk of seeing your project stall, shape your project with short-term milestones. These steps coupled with well-defined deliverables generate a sense of achievement during the project and look less daunting to the team members involved in the project.

These smaller steps enable such a big project to adapt to the new priorities set by the organ­isation, giving your Artwork Programme a better chance to be implemented with success.

Key Learning 7 The right leadership — ensure focussed and accountable leadership

We have already mentioned the importance of identifying the right sponsor to champion the change across the organisation for complex programs such as Artwork ones in the Key Learning 2 post (put a link to KL2). It is also important to have leaders capable to pi­lot this improvement project through all the challenges present in a cross-functional and cross-organisational change management project. Not only do leaders have to show tech­nical knowledge, they have to be capable of dealing with people elements that are a huge part of a change management project.

Good leaders have to connect across the organisation to promote the Artwork Project to bring visibility and interest. They have to be capable of advocating their project outside of their close circle to engage and influence across the extended organisation to get a broad range of stakeholders on board. This require networking and communications skills to in­spire and drive the project to the desired outcomes.

This cannot be achieved alone. In the same order, a leader will build up an effective network of change agents located at all the levels of the organisation that are just as enthusiastic about the project and ready to help deliver it.

The combination of all these qualities allows the leaders to overcome the difficulties and hence deliver superior results.

In the next and final article in this series, we will look at the key roles of governance, partners and sustainability in your artwork programme.

Read more from Andrew love here.