Your success in 2021 depends on three things: delivering value, managing risk, and managing relationships. But how often do we focus our attention and effort on the value and risk parts of our business plan and assume that the stakeholder stuff will somehow fall into place as long as we’ve got a nice list of key opinion leaders? Good stakeholder relationships are essential, so give them serious consideration in your plan.
As well as aims and activity, think about your approach. If you only ever contact a clinical opinion leader when you want them to do something for you, the relationship is transactional and limited. That’s probably OK in the short term, but when you think about the more substantial relationships in your life, chances are they’ve developed through reciprocity, co-operation and mutual understanding. Stakeholder relationships need to be nurtured in the same way.
To be meaningful, stakeholder engagement involves a genuine willingness to listen. We need to focus on the other person’s agenda so we can understand what’s important to them. What keeps them awake at night? What gives them a glow of satisfaction at the end of a busy day? As well as listening, there also has to be a commitment to consider changing in response to others’ views. It’s these behaviours that build trust, the bedrock for all fruitful relationships. Through a systematic approach, you can develop solid connections that bring mutual understanding and generate powerful insights. These in turn give you a platform for successful collaboration, and that’s when you can really accomplish results through working together.
Your stakeholder engagement plan is not a one-time thing. It needs to be cyclical and constant. The healthcare landscape is evolving, and we have to keep up-to-date with how primary care networks, real-world evidence, artificial intelligence and any number of other developments affect our stakeholders. As you monitor and evaluate your activities, knowledge and outcomes should feed into the next cycle of planning.
At Dovetail we’re on a mission to help pharma achieve great things through effective stakeholder collaboration. I’ll be posting on the stages of the engagement process throughout the year. If you need help or information in the meantime, we’d love to hear from you.