In April I wrote a blog titled “Believe what they do, not what they say. Is Eli Lilly really committed to innovation?” where I discussed how Bernard Munoz a well known author and speaker and currently a Lilly executive focused on innovation had his job eliminated by Lilly in a downsizing. I asked is Lilly really committed to innovation if they are willing to let a valuable resource like Mr. Munoz go?
Last evening I attended a meeting in the Penthouse of the Lilly Corporate Center. John Lechleiter, the CEO of Lilly and Bart Peterson, the former mayor of Indianapolis and VP of corporate communications were the featured speakers. Both gave passionate speeches about how the “new” Lilly was committed to innovation. Lilly will survive and grow by focusing on the patient. This means understanding their unique needs and investing heavily to create the right products for the right patients delivered at the right time at the right dose. It also means that Lilly will not try to perform and control every step of the research and development process in house. Rather a high priority is to develop a development network with other companies to provide critical steps of the discovery and development process. An example is Lilly’s sale of its former Greenfield facility and outsourcing of its Toxicology departments to Covance. Lilly hopes that these alliances will create a competitive advantage that will allow the company to develop best in class drugs much faster than traditional development.
Also in attendance were Derica Rice, the Chief Financial Officer and Jacques Tapiero, the President of Emerging Markets. I had worked with Derica and Jacques during my days at Lilly but have not seen either for many years. Both are extremely passionate about Lilly’s future and the course that the company has set.
So to answer my own question, yes I think Eli Lilly is really committed to innovation. Now can they pull it off and develop, introduce and market game changing products that meet their individual customer’s needs in an expeditious manner. That’s the million dollar question! I think they can but they will need to continue to evolve a culture that in the past has been reluctant to reward risktaking.
I wish Lilly well and hope and pray for the company to succeed in its mission. If you count Lilly and its vendors and their vendors thousands of jobs are at stake. The economy of Indianapolis and central Indiana depends on it.
Until next time – all the best!