specificity wins the day!

Imagine going for a hike and accidentally falling into a deep hole you can’t climb out of.


You look up but all you see is blue sky and the surrounding wall of ground and dirt.


Out of the blue, two people appear.


The first person says:

“Hey, I’m Rick and I’m here to empower you to climb out of this hole. The great news is that while falling into holes is growing at a 20% CAGR, ~80% of people stuck in holes get out after about 30min. As you climb out, you’ll experience certain areas where the dirt is going to be a little loose so be careful. There will be certain areas where you’ll have to grip harder than others and there are some parts of the climb where you’ll have to use your hands more than your legs. You’re at a decisive moment in your life, so you’ll need to be courageous and focused. Getting out of this hole will be a transformative experience!”


The second person says:

“Hey, I’m Jen and we’re going to get through this together. First, wipe the mud off the soles of your shoes so you can get a better grip. Now because it rained here yesterday, I need you to walk to the east-facing wall which is drier. At about eye level you’ll see a root sticking out, which I want you to grab with your left hand while putting your right foot on the rock below shaped like a ‘U’. Now put your left foot on the rock that’s jetting out about 5 inches and as you push yourself up with your legs, you’re going to move 5 feet sideways to the right and grab the two rocks that you see sticking out that are somewhat covered in moss. You’ll then see a little rock you can stand on. Take a breath. Now climb up about 10 feet grabbing onto the little rocks that zigzag their way up, but be careful because after about 3 feet, the dirt is going to get a little sandy. When you get to the sandy bit, you can dig holes into the wall to support your weight and use those as steps, which should get you close enough to the top to pull yourself up and climb out. Then grab my hand and I’ll pull you up.”


Which person are you going to listen to?


Rick or Jen?


I’m assuming that if you’ve got an iota of a will to live, you’ll listen to Jen because she described what you need to do so specifically that you quickly pick up that she’s built mastery at what she does.


She’s done it before, most probably multiple times.


My point?


I often get asked how to hire for and build digital teams in Pharma.


My advice?


When hiring an internal team (or an external consultant) in nascent areas like digital health, bring in the ‘Jens’. There are plenty of Ricks with relevant experience that can give you ‘broad strokes’ about what needs to get done, but you need an operator that’s executed. Ideally, multiple times. And sometimes, from outside of Pharma.


Ricks are nice people. But Jens will get you out of a hole.

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