Monday, 17 October 2011

Get the big Rocks in your bucket first, a metaphor for your busy life

As a Training Consultant in the past, one of my favourite metaphors for getting the message of ‘effective time management’ across to participants, was this….

I’d start with a bucket, some big rocks enough to fill it, some small stones, some sand and water. I’d ask in what order should I put them in if I was to successfully get them all into the bucket?

After much fun and fooling around we’d settle on the following most effective way.

1. Put the big rocks in the bucket - is it full?

2. Put the small stones in around the big rocks - is it full?

3. Put the sand in and give it a shake - is it full?

4. Put the water in. Now it is full.

The point of the metaphor is this: unless you put the big rocks in first, you won't get them in at all.

In other words: In life, we need to ‘plan’ time-slots for your personal or career big issues before anything else, or the inevitable sand and water issues will fill up your days and you won't fit the big issues in (a big issue doesn't necessarily have to be a work task - it could be a family occasion, your child's sports-day, or a holiday). Think about it, are you getting those big rocks into your bucket first?

The author: Sammy Lloyd is Head of Learning at Branding Science.

Monday, 19 September 2011

How to Avoid ‘Deskstress’ and get your Sanity Back…today!

Most of us today encounter many kinds of stress. One I see happening all the time is ‘deskstress’.

The most common form of ‘deskstress’ is when we get totally swamped under an alarming amount

of electrical gadgets, files, papers, binders, folders, computers and a myriad of other space taking materials.

If you are at the point where you need a system to ‘get on top of things’, then here you go.

You’ll gain the freedom that only ‘having a fabulous, yet easy system’ can bring you.

All you have to do is implement it and you’ll be so happy you did.

Let’s go…

1. Create three accessible holding files for hardcopy



3. Projects (sub-categories e.g. ABC projects etc.)

2. Sort all items from your inbox into four piles and then:

- Decide Action (what), Filing (where) Pending (when)

- Do Quick and immediate action – do it now!

- Delegate as much as possible

- Discard, Ditch, Dump or Delete ‘feed’ your wastebasket at regular intervals

3. Work through your ‘decide’ pile:

- Date-activate, select the most appropriate day for action and add to tasks to your activity system (calendar, outlook etc)

- Store in either your e-files or hardcopy files

4. Review before the end of every day

- Remember – what you see grab’s your attention – make sure what you see is important!

Employ the above system and you are on your way to eliminating your ‘deskstress’.

You’ll have a system; you’ll have a technique that will not let you down.

You’ll be more productive and your efficiency levels will be at an all time high.

Good luck

Sammy Lloyd is Head of Learning at Branding Science and has been deeply involved in Coaching and Learning and Development programmes for over 20 years.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Market access: Is the hurdle getting bigger?

Recently the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence chose not to live up to it's abbreviated moniker (NICE) when considering reimbursement for two new agents eagerly anticipated by both physicians and patients alike. Both agents are hailed as providing meaningful benefits to patients that go beyond just clinical efficacy in their therapy areas, Multiple Sclerosis and Metastatic Breast Cancer. (In the interests of neutrality I will not mention the products by name here!)

These products both secured European regulatory approval and have launched in other European markets. So, drugs launching in the UK seem to need more precise, more meaningful and more compelling evidence to secure reimbursement........oh yes....they also need to be dirt cheap!

With a raft of changes and reforms impacting the NHS, its structure and funding, including the introduction of GP consortia and the QIPP programme tasked with saving £20 Bn by 2014; are the barriers to market in the UK getting higher, more confused and less penetrable? What does this actually mean for pharmaceutical companies and brand teams looking to launch their value adding novel agent? How can brand and market access teams engage in a meaningful way with the right stakeholders in the right way?

These are all questions we have been thinking about here at Branding Science and identified some key areas of understanding that will benefit our Pharma clients.

Determining who the new stakeholders will be both during and after these reforms will enable brand teams to engage effectively and help leverage commissioning priorities in their favour.

Understanding how these reforms are interpreted by the different stakeholders and their potential impact on day-to-day practices will help anticipate the changes that will happen. This process will provide critical insights on the evolution brands have to achieve to resonate in their new environment.

Identifying the real life, underlying priorities of these reforms will enable our clients to focus their brand communications to areas of greatest importance. Eg. If the focus is cost, brands may need to communicate a strong value proposition. If the focus is innovation, client brands may need to show advancement and novelty against current services. Should the focus be the patient, then communicating meaningful patient outcomes and quality of life improvements will be key.

The point is that in a changing environment, it is important for everyone to understand what the reforms mean in real terms – and brand teams in particular have certainly a lot to gain by starting this process early! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject and likewise, work together to find the answers!

The author: Joe Gadilhe is Senior Research Executive at Branding Science. With experience across therapy areas, he has managed research projects exploring the views and opinions of payers and physicians in the UK and abroad.

Friday, 12 August 2011

You know Coaching would be great for your team, but you don’t know where to start!

Here’s a quick guide from Sammy Lloyd, Head of Learning at Branding Science

Coaching – What the hell is it, really?

  • It’s helping people to learn a skill through 1-1 sessions and feedback.
  • Uses day to day, career learning experiences for your team members. The best coaching is done on-job, (you don’t always have to create appointments and schedule diaries, good coaching often only takes a few moments/minutes)
  • Provides a structure for development of every member of staff, controlled by you, but owned by the individual.
  • Should be carried out on an ongoing basis. (if you believe that you did some coaching with a team member last year, therefore you are coaching……you may need to think again)

Follow this Simple 4 stage Process and see dramatic results

  1. Analysis of Coaching Needs.
  • OK, what are the standards that my team need to achieve in a specific area of our business? What skills are required to do this? (you might want to list them if you haven’t got them down already)
  • What is the gap between the required standard/skill and the standard/skill at present? Get really clear on this and list them, you need to be crystal clear on this. You’ll notice that often our human abilities i.e. relationship building skills, attitude, determination, procrastination, effective use of time etc may surface.
  • Can the gap be filled by coaching?
  • What are the priorities? List them.
  1. Setting objectives/ targets / key result areas etc.
  • What targets should you set for staff? Now I hate to use the next example, but you what? Nothing has come up yet to replace the technique of using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timescale). Most important? - Realistic.
  • Draw up a simple Learning and Development plan for every member of staff. Think about their coaching needs. Which are the most important? How frequently can you address them?
  • Always agree targets with team members. Remember that coaching is (when used correctly) a key motivational tool – if staff are not kept informed it can de-motivate through fear and suspicion. Many great coaches don’t even use the term ‘coaching’ as it becomes ‘conversational’ it’s often just an ‘impromptu, informal chat’. Coaching still happens and is very structured, but the skilled coach interweaves and infuses the session elements conversationally (that are often not even noticed by the team member). This frequently ends up with the team member leaving the session with fresh impetus, clarity, focus, and often in higher spirits.
  1. Coaching Skills
  • Adopt the ‘little and often’ approach.
  • Consider your communication techniques. Use a combination of open and closed questions. A closed question can only be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The skill of using open ended questioning technique is a true skill. (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How?) Seek methods of utilizing this skill in your own personal development. Always check understanding.
  • Be enthusiastic. Give appropriate praise and encouragement.
  • Give regular feedback. Be constructive.
  • Advice and guidance from own experiences can be very effective. However, use with caution, often when we enable the team member to figure something out for themselves it becomes more beneficial than the old, ‘you want to do it like this’ approach.
  1. Evaluation
  • You must think about how you are going to monitor the success of your coaching before you really get started. Having a date to review progress is always beneficial
  • Always link activity to goals whenever possible.
  • Use review sessions to re-assess coaching needs.
  • Discuss progress regularly.

How to really ‘mess up’, or the most common Barriers to effective Coaching

  • Setting unrealistic objectives.
  • You as Coach do not ask enough questions to get to know what the team member ‘really wants to achieve’. Getting to the heart of the matter.
  • Poor relationship with staff member.
  • Lack of confidence to question and probe, to really understand team member.
  • Tendency to instruct rather than coach.
  • Choosing inappropriate time and place for your coaching session.

Gaining skills in coaching and then applying them is one of the most productive and rewarding areas of management (and personal life). There are a number of different methods of coaching that can truly bring benefits to management and team members.

Sammy Lloyd is Head of Learning at Branding Science and has been deeply involved in Coaching and Learning and Development programmes for over 20 years. Should you have any queries with regards to Coaching for Results then please contact our offices.