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Posted on 05 April 2013

Is there always an answer?

Posted in innovation  LINKEDIN  THINKING 

Thinking creative.

Pfizer’s Lipitor, its cholesterol-lowering treatment, is a phenomenal success, so big that as early as 2005 it was generating 25 per cent of Pfizer’s revenues, over $12 billion per year. Where on earth does the company go from here?

The patent protection is to end shortly and Pfizer does not have anything remotely as profitable to follow it, although it has spent a vast amount of money on drug research. Between 2000 and 2010, Pfizer’s share price dropped from $49 to $17; the shareholders were dismayed, but I think it is harsh to heap too much of the blame on to the company.

It seems impossible to repeat such a massive success and many businesses have failed in similar situations. Perhaps they don’t appreciate just how big a part luck plays in success and failure; out of the many millions who play, a few people have won the lottery twice. I am not sure that big corporations have that kind of luck. Nor am I sure that I have the answer.

Many things have been tried in the past, from setting up skunk works to buying many smaller but faster growing businesses, but there is no sure fire answer. During my time as a consultant, when asked by a company what they should do in this situation, I have on occasion had to tell my client that there isn’t an answer. Sometimes ‘thinking creative’ means thinking the unthinkable, admitting it can't be done.