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From Fashion to Focus: Automation as a Practical Art

Drug development can be characterised as a scientific process intended to validate claims about clinical benefit in response to market opportunity, so life science companies offer an organisational precedent for fact-based management. Ironically, like most opportunistic enterprises, pharmaceutical companies run the managerial risk of succumbing to the enthusiastic optimism of a pragmatic fallacy. The path to this error is almost always as slippery and obscure as it is simple and seductive. For example, imagine the personal struggle with a failing heart or progressive blindness or any of the other countless diseases or limitations that can crop up as we age. In a moment of clinical need, how many of us would accept the argument that a therapy works because a lot of people are convinced of it? People may feel better after taking a drug, but such a testimonial hardly supports the claim.

Every manager is occasionally guilty of adding to the bookshelf any one of the annual crop of business books that imply a smooth path to success. 'Methodologies' from Zen business to the leadership secrets of fascinating historical figures assert apparently credible authority. Confidence and truth are frequently treated as being equivalent in modern business. Why argue with success? Practical thinking about business problems, as unfashionable as it sounds, is an art that can dramatically improve the odds of an expected result. It also provides a way to sift out and discard distractions, red herrings and plain nonsense. Integrating the discipline of good science with effective management is a step along the path to mastery of the art of the practical.


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By Philip J Holt, Vice President, Life Sciences and Jane Light, Principal Consultant, e-Solutions at Integic Corporation

Philip Holt has worked extensively over the past two decades in the development of technology strategies and methodologies oriented toward repeatable results. Philip has also held management and executive positions at Baxter, Oacis Healthcare Systems and SAIC, as well as founding Altis, an international consultancy.

Jane Light has 20 years' professional experience in strategic consulting, product and project management, large-scale systems integration, database design, systems analysis, software development and quality assurance.
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Philip Holt
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Jane Light
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