The CEO of Pfizer on Developing a Vaccine in Record Time

Absolutely fascinating discussion of the Pfizer journey. A “must read” on what it takes for a Large Established Organization to act in an agile way. What does it take? Urgency. Purpose. And a willingness to drive through the blockers.

https://hbr.org/2021/05/the-ceo-of-pfizer-on-developing-a-vaccine-in-record-time

There were several important characteristics of the approach they took:

It took a moon-shot challenge, out-of-the-box thinking, intercompany cooperation, liberation from bureaucracy, and, most of all, hard work from everyone.

Underlying this is a data-driven innovation strategy requiring deep digital skills across the leadership team:

We had to become a more modern company, digitizing data through every link in our value chain.

The timeline and the path taken is fascinating, leading to the first use of the vaccine:

The UK was the first country to authorize the use of our vaccine, and Margaret Keenan got the first dose, on December 8, 2020.

The lessons learned from this experiences?

  1. It takes a team
  2. Purpose matters.
  3. Shoot for the moon.
  4. Support novel approaches.
  5. Break through beauracracy.
  6. Cooperate across all dimensions