business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will
give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The
mind can only see what it is prepared to see."
Edward de Bono
This is also the challenge with cancer drug development, which is becoming more complex and sophisticated with various therapies and regimens spanning the gamut of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapies and increasingly, vaccines. Many tumour types now have an array of options and each could be treated differently. Which then begs the obvious questions:
- which combinations work best together
- what sequencing would optimise outcomes
- how best should new therapies be incorporated into the guidelines.
The old fashioned approach to portfolio analysis and competitive intelligence involves a bottom up gathering of data to derive current approaches and make decisions on what your competitors are thus doing right here, right now. It also leads to blinkered, narrow thinking that merely repeats what has already been done before.
As de Bono suggests, sometimes thinking outside the box and visualising the future and adapting to a new direction might yield more productive blue ocean strategies. This involves forward thinking, but does not preclude a less rigourous approach because it is dependent upon top down thinking that tests the hypotheses whether your future scenarios are valid or not.
In fact, De Bono's idea turns the whole process on it's head and demands that you both understand your market, while at the same time visualising a space you could own and occupy that is different from your competitors. It might be more creative and risky, but it also might just be the ticket and the difference between having a blockbuster and yet another me-too cancer drug in your development portfolio.
Poster childs for cancer treatment don't just happen, they are made in the minds of creative people with vision and drive to execute, often against all odds.