A Plan for Success, GSK’s approach

In early January the leadership team in GSK comes together to develop the organisation’s goals, which reflect the specific opportunities and challenges for 2017. In the last three years, GSK’s strategy has helped us win in challenging conditions by changing our new operating model and using this to drive competitive advantage, writes Aidan Lynch, Vice-President and General Manager, GSK.

Aidan Lynch, General Manager of GSK Pharma Ireland
Aidan Lynch, Vice-President and General Manager of GSK Pharma Ireland

Our strategy is constantly evolving and in such a dynamic environment, it’s important to spend time at the start of each year to ask whether it’s focused on the right issues and is fit for purpose for the year ahead.

The expert view

Every unit of the organisation has specific goals: whether strategic, organisational, departmental, or even individual or personal. Management guru, Stephen Covey, and his team have found (through hundreds of pieces of research), we can only successfully manage, at a maximum three goals at any particular time in his “The Four Disciplines of Execution,” Covey describes the term “Wildly Important Goals,” or WIGs for short. He believes these goals are not only vital to an organisation’s success, but really are the only ones that matter. Since 2011, GSK has adopted this approach to setting our strategy for the business.

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Maintaining focus

Discipline is the key to success at early goal development stages. It can be difficult to keep the focus on what is business critical and to cut out the nice to haves. As we refine the process, each year it becomes natural. Discipline is also vital to the job of remaining focussed during the year as you aim to deliver your goals.  The enemy of the goals is the Whirlwind, the everyday trials and tribulations that jump up and threatens to knock us off course.  In order to maintain focus, we measure our activity and output against specific timelines.

Our values at the heart of what we do

All departments within the business contribute to strategy development, which is underpinned by three pillars. While our commercial objectives are vital to our overall performance, equal weight is given to engaging our people and building trust as valued business partners. Our values – patient focus, integrity, respect for people and transparency – underpin everything we do.

Everyone aligned, engaged and committed

In order to seek input from our employees, we hold workshops and team meetings with a wide representation of all departments. This allows for participation and discussion to ensure engagement with the deliverables and objectives linked to each goal. Teams are charged with developing plans and activities that have the most impact on the set objectives. Performance Development Plans are aligned to the overall strategy and goals set for the business. It’s important to keep everyone across our organisation engaged and committed to driving performance. It’s about simply sticking to the plan. Everyone is totally clear on where their focus should be when setting team and individual objectives for the year ahead.

Key to success is Personal Accountability

Each goal is reviewed by its business owner at monthly leadership meetings. This process ensures that team leaders are held to account for their team’s deliverables through robust performance challenge led discussions.
While undoubtedly GSK is a commercial enterprise that is focused on our financial figures, our performance ultimately translates into improved access to our medicines and better patient outcomes. Our goals combine to ultimately deliver on our mission, which is helping patients to “do more, feel better and live longer”.