How Pfizer Delivered a Covid Vaccine in Record Time.

articles Jan 13, 2021

Some articles grab you by the shoulders and shake you awake. This is one such summary of an article by Jared Hopkins in The Wall Street Journal. Definitely worth a read. Here are the highlights:

First lesson: go all in. If you have an idea that a small test group of your patients, clients, donors or customers think is great and they are willing to tell 10 more friends who will tell 10 more friends, go all in. You can’t be half-pregnant with a great idea. Pfizer’s CEO went all in, investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build a global manufacturing network, even though he knew his team was racing to develop a new vaccine based on a technology that had never been approved before.

Second lesson: follow through and oversight are critical. The CEO didn’t check in occasionally. He held twice-weekly meetings, constantly asking how they could make more vaccine and how they could make it sooner. When you start a new marketing initiative in your practice or you hire a new employee, expand your hours or start answering the phones 24/7/365, how often do you check in?

I’m told by leaders at Jimmy Marketing that the clients who get the best results are the ones who consistently meet with their marketing managers. Shocking, right? The audiologists who never take the time to look at their ads, check the phones and meet with their teams are not surprisingly seeing results that pale in comparison to those who follow through and oversee things frequently.

Million dollar pearl: the next time you hire someone, start a new marketing campaign or expand the hours you answer the phones, check in on those initiatives twice weekly, not at the end of the month.

Third lesson: it’s OK to be demanding. The CEO of Pfizer achieved something that typically takes 10 years in less than a year and he did it by being a demanding leader, bordering on unreasonable. This is how the best leaders operate. Think about your favorite coach, teacher, professor or leader in any walk of life. Didn’t he or she push you in ways that went beyond your own goals? Didn’t they raise expectations extremely high and challenge you and assist you in achieving them?

Lee Cockerell, the retired Executive Vice President of Disney World, who led 76,000 employees in Orlando, Florida during his 17-year tenure, told members when he presented at The Customer Service Summit, “If you want to see better results in your business, raise your expectations.” 

Lee learned the lesson from Conrad Hilton, founder of the eponymous hotel chain, who told him after inspecting one of the hotel restaurants Lee was managing, “Lee, there are flies in your restaurant because you like flies. Kill them.” Although there were actual flies in the kitchen, Hilton was teaching a parable which applied to many other things in the business that weren’t going well.

If you have under-performing employees in your business, it’s because you like under-performing employees. Stop allowing that. If you have patients who are rude to your team and show up late or don’t pay their bill, that’s because you like patients who are rude and noncompliant. Stop attracting them. If you have months that are unpredictable and revenue swings up and down, new patients swing up and down, it’s because you like instability in your life. Kill it.

Final lesson: if you aim for the moon and miss, you’re still among the stars. Pfizer’s CEO wanted 100 million doses by October. He got less than half of his goal by December. But, what if he had simply allowed the status quo to drive objectives? Well, we’d be waiting 9 more years for a vaccine. That’s what. 

When you sit down and set your goals, make sure you’re aiming high. If one or all of the four lessons resonated with you today, be sure to share with your team leaders. You can do anything you want in your business but you can’t do it all. Develop your team. They want to help you achieve big things if you’ll only get out of the way by being a better, more-effective leader.

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