What was the focus of the project?
Prashant: The client’s global head of R&D has the inspiring vision of creating a world without disease and wanted help on how to make that vision a reality. It’s such an ambiguous problem — how to look 15 years out to create a world without disease — but it’s right in Innosight’s wheelhouse. We thrive on thinking beyond what can be done today and not being restrained by today’s realities or business models.
Anna: To get insight into how the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will shift, we did what we call a “future-back” project. It involves looking at the future environment, seeing how the landscape is changing and identifying emerging opportunity areas that will exist in that distant time horizon. And then we work with the client to determine how to capitalize on those opportunity areas in the future.
How do you go about the process of tackling such a formidable challenge?
Prashant: Because we look so far out into the future, we often need to define a market that doesn’t yet exist. That calls for a process that’s very assumptions-driven, as opposed to hard data-driven.
Anna: One reason clients value Innosight is that we don’t just hand them an answer. We have a lot of discussions to get their input along the way. That helps us get buy-in from people, which is what you need to make ideas stick and have a long-term impact.
Teri: Thinking 15 years out can be really uncomfortable. So it’s crucial to bring people along. Otherwise, some of them will shut down your ideas just because those ideas seem so farfetched.
Annie: Visualization with the client was key. We looked at a lot of year 2030-based trends that will shape the future environment. We also wrote vignettes — these were like news articles from the future that explained what a typical healthcare customer would be going through. That helped ensure we all shared that future mindset.
What was the work style of the internal team?
Prashant: We were very deliberate internally about discussing team norms — things like being mutually respectful, being totally transparent with each other, making everyone’s ideas count. We also had clearly defined workstreams. Everybody had ownership and accountability, which is helpful for ensuring personal development goals are being met and people are inspired by their work.
Anna: One thing our team did very well was getting everyone’s perspective on the problem we were trying to crack. From analyst to partners, we frequently had two- to three-hour sessions where we worked together in a big space with whiteboards all around. It was great to see that the research we’d done and the opinions we brought to the table were really valued.
Teri: Prashant was very intentional about checking in with everyone every day, every week. How does everyone feel, who’s stressed, who feels like they need help with something? Making sure everyone was in it for the long haul, because six months is a long time to be working together, and working that hard.
What was it like working with the client?
Annie: The project was structured in a very collaborative way. We worked closely with a core team of six people on the client side in defining the long-term strategy. These were the younger visionaries, the thought leaders, in the company. We worked with them over a series of strategic dialogues, which were two-day-long sessions. In between those, we had daily or weekly calls with them to work through and develop the strategy. Overall, the ability to have such intensive collaboration with the client, from the head of R&D all the way down to gathering visionary video submissions from new hires, was pretty cool.
Anna: The client has a deep understanding of their industry, while we have a deep understanding of how to restructure to be nimble and innovate moving forward. Having that humility and sense of mutual respect is critical to the project’s success.
Describe the personal growth you experienced during this project.
Annie: This was my first end-to-end project at Innosight. One of my development goals was to absorb best practices that would be transferable across projects and across roles, whether that involved slide creation, organizing insights or even logistical management. I’m now staffed on my second large project, and I can attest wholeheartedly to the benefits of that experience.
Teri: I was in consulting prior to joining Innosight, but it was a completely different type of consulting. It was also my first team project here, so I wanted to learn about developing relationships with the client and understanding how we do future-back. I’m now doing another future-back project, so I’m becoming pretty well-versed in the process and seeing how it can be replicated for other clients.
Prashant: I had managed teams before, but not on an intense, complex, six-month project like this. My three big goals were to make sure the client was happy, our team was happy and the case got solved. I learned a lot in all three of those areas.
Anna: I wanted to take on a greater leadership role in managing the client interaction engage more deeply in the problem-solving. In order to fulfill these goals, I was able to take on oversight of three workstreams and help the client steer through the development of a long-term vision and plan for execution.
What are some of the ways you bonded as a team?
Prashant: There were lots of opportunities to bond and work over food. We had a kickoff dinner at my house, and we had dinners as a team once every week or two.
Teri: Even if just two of us were traveling, we’d get meals together.
Prashant: It helps when you like each other!
Annie: I’ve enjoyed meeting every single person here at Innosight. Everyone has an interesting story.
How did the project conclude?
Teri: The project culminated in a three-day, offsite event. About 200 people from the organization were there to see members of our core team and leaders from the group explain this new strategy that had been developed. It was amazing to see the people we had worked with for six months shining on the stage.