By Yoram Yahav.
Pharmaceutical drug company – Teva, is an example of a corporation I truly admire. Established over a hundred years ago, the founding families never realized that it was going to turn into the world’s leading generic drug company.
What was so special about the growth of this company was its legendary chairman Eli Horowitz; a true visionary who could “see into the future”, figure out a new niche in the market place, bring the right people to replace him as a CEO and inspire the workers of Teva to think big.
Three years ago, I asked Eli to join a fantastic group of people for a project outlining the future of Israel. I was keen on futuristic scenario planning methodologies already then and I remember challenging Eli privately on one possible scenario.
What if Copaxon – (a leading drug that Teva manufactures accounting for 25% of sales) disappeared? “It is not going to happen,” he said. But what if it does? I insisted. “Then we will worry about it then”, he responded.
As I write this article three years later, the papers are filled with media coverage on the 10% drop in Teva’s stock because of the FDA approving the first steps of a competing drug.
As you have heard from me so many times, nothing can be taken for granted, NOTHING. Our future plans should consider all possibilities and then our dreams will have more potential to flourish into different realities.
One of Harvard Business School’s major contributions to the industry is the Harvard Case Study approach. Ever since Harvard published its first case study in 1921, millions of business people around the world have benefited from learning and simulating real life cases. In addition, quite an interesting trend was introduced to the business education scene; international companies around the world have actually been approaching business schools to offer themselves as candidates for case study writing.
Writing a case study requires unique skills. It is neither a typical writing project, nor is it a journalist task. Writers of case studies are required to go through special training and should have talent in addition to creativity. Companies participating in the process, need to express openness, non-defensive about their weakness as well as their failures.
In all relative terms, Israel is one of the world leaders in the number of start-up companies as well as the number of companies registered in Nasdaq. At the same time, it is quite surprising to see the small number of cases written about Israeli companies.
One of the reasons may be the lack of willingness of Israeli executives to expose their past down falls and discuss them in an open manner. Culturally, it is an interesting phenomenon, practically, if it doesn’t change, it may create some major problems in the future. Part of the reason to discuss the past is the fact that there is no future without a past, but there is definitely a past without a future.
In this day and age, when change comes and goes faster then the speed of light, companies and individuals who are not going to consider different types of scenarios in their growth, in my opinion, will face a danger of disappearing. We can not move forward based only on the successes of the past and part of our respect to the future has to be linked to our willingness to consider some different futuristic paths.
Having worked with many of Teva’s leading executives I know and respect their capacity to think out-of-the-box. At the same time, if the Copaxon loses market share, Teva will need to deal with some serious realities.
What’s better then considering the “what if” and deal with virtual realities as though they actually happened? When organizations are able to think this way, they are better prepared for their future.