Using archetypes to align your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees’ thoughts, beliefs and behaviors.
In the previous issue, I outlined the importance of alignment by pointing to Volkswagen as a classic case of the lack of alignment between an organization’s high-level objective, and the basic actions of the employees.
I stated that your archetype, if you have chosen it well, is a wonderful vehicle to drive alignment deep within your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization. When you’ve trained your employees on what your archetype means for your organization and how it can guide their thoughts, beliefs and behaviors, your archetype can link your organization’s mission, purpose and values to fundamental needs that every employee has for job fulfillment: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
In this issue, I’m going to provide the information you need to organize your training, with the goal of using your organizational archetype to create alignment among employees. But first, I’m going to cover the decisions that need to have been made and the pieces you must have in place to maximize the alignment of your employees.
Using archetypes as a framework for aligning your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees.
To use the training I’ll outline in the next issue, all of the following must be true. If you are interested in aligning your employees, you can use this as a checklist to prepare for training your employees.
- Your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization must have chosen an archetype. See Vol. 6 No 5 for more information on choosing an archetype.
- You must have thought further about that choice by defining the set of attributes that your specific life science, biotech, drug discovery or development archetype will exhibit. For example, if the archetype you’ve chosen is the Companion, you must have identified the core attributes of your organization’s Companion; for example:
- Loyalty (trusted supporter, sense of belonging, comrade)
- Practicality (enables freedom in others)
- Patience (offers help and loyalty without judgment)
This customization of your archetype is crucial. Archetypes work best when they are tailored to an individual organization. This ensures that your archetypal expressions will be authentic. It will also maximize the internal alignment among your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees.
- You must have built an archetype toolkit, including a set of words and phrases that, in this example, your customized Companion would use, such as: Assistance, Comrade, Friendship, Love, Patience, Fulfillment, Self-sacrifice, Support, Helping hand, etc.
- Your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development leadership team must be engaged and fully support your choice; they must be ready to “talk the talk and walk the walk,” consistently expressing the archetype in their own thoughts, beliefs and actions. To ensure this is the case, in our client engagements we typically train the C-suite in the use of the chosen, customized archetype first, before training any other employees.
- You must be committed to embedding your archetype deep within your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization. This means it must show up in all public expressions, both internal and external (your web site, trade show booth, sales presentations, thought leadership, press releases, email blasts, announcements to employees, hiring policies, etc.). Without this commitment, your effort is doomed to fail. With this commitment, you’ll realize the four main benefits of archetypes (more on this in a minute). This commitment must start with the C-suite, and extend throughout every level of the organization. Training, when done well, will enable your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees to gain the correct Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes to align their thoughts, beliefs and behaviors.
- You must be committed to reinforcing your archetype. In particular, this means that your middle managers must be on board; if training is the vehicle that introduces your employees to your organizational archetype, it is your middle managers who will ensure that this archetype becomes “real” to your employees and has useful life beyond the training.
- You must be committed to conducting training properly. As I’ll point out later, poorly conducted training is worse than useless.
The function of an archetype in creating alignment in life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organizations.
As I discussed in Volume 7 Issue 9, the benefits of archetypes include:
One of the big advantages of having selected an archetype is that it gives your employees a set of guidelines for analyzing, evaluating and creating expressions (brand touchpoints) that are consistent. That is, it aligns your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees’ thoughts, beliefs and behaviors.
Archetypes are not the only way to create this alignment, of course. But you need a “pole-star” that will be visible to all employees, one that orients them to the proper thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. To see why this is so important, we only have to look back a decade or so.
The need to deputize and align your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees.
It’s true that brands have always had personalities, and organizations have long recognized the difficulty of controlling the expression of this personality—this is why the concept of a “brand police” first came into existence in the 1980s and 1990s. Brand police were developed to monitor the expressions of a brand and keep them aligned (though their focus was mainly limited to the “look and feel” aspects of the brand). This was an attempt to force alignment onto all expressions of the brand, internal and external, by monitoring and correcting usage.
But that’s basically impossible in today’s environment. No brand police force is able to keep up with the explosion in touchpoints over the past decade. No internal team can (in addition to its other responsibilities) monitor every communication coming from every life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employee; there are too many Facebook pages, blogs and Twitter accounts for that.
In other words, brand police tried to impose alignment on brand expressions, but the growing array of communication channels has made this impossible. And aligning brand expressions is only part of the battle. How can we align our employees’ thoughts, beliefs and behaviors? It requires a much more strategic effort.
Your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees live in a media-rich world. There are lots of demands on their attention. Without some aligning principles, they’ll work on their basic actions and potentially move toward their intermediate goals, but there won’t be any deep consideration of their jobs’ high-level objectives. And without high-level objectives in common, it’s difficult to believe that your employees’ thoughts, beliefs and behaviors can be aligned.
In this reality, archetypes are an invaluable tool that enables us to harness and align the idea of organizational personality, while deputizing and empowering each life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employee to act in the proper fashion. I’m not arguing that we can eliminate brand police altogether; in contrast, I believe we must maintain the core monitoring function—by deputizing all employees to become part of the brand police force. In today’s environment, everyone can, and should be, responsible for monitoring brand expressions.
If we are able to deputize all employees, the job of the traditional or core brand police shifts from monitoring and enforcement to training, monitoring and assisting.
The goal of training: aligning your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees.
The goal of the training I’m outlining here is to drive alignment among all employees; that is, to ensure that their work-related thoughts, beliefs and behaviors are in alignment with those of their peers—and all of them are in alignment with your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization’s mission and values.
I’ll now discuss the logistics of your training, giving you a checklist for success. In the next issue, I’ll outline the basic topics you’ll want to cover in your training. I’ll even provide some specific exercises. But remember that you’ll want to tailor this to your own individual situation.
The logistics of training and aligning your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees.
I’m going to list several training rules or guidelines that grew directly from our beliefs—and our real-world experience. Some of these are controversial, so you might disagree (but you’ll be wrong). The fact is, changing the culture of an organization, for any reason, is hard work. To help overcome your employees’ natural resistance to change, you need to make this training look and feel important to them—because it is. If you just pay it lip service, they won’t take it seriously, and you’ll end up with little or no alignment, and potentially disastrous consequences—just look at Volkswagen.
Modality: The training should occur in groups, in person. Each employee should be trained in a room with other employees. Watching a video by oneself on a computer in a cubicle drastically limits employee engagement, and eliminates the ability for employees to align with one another. After the training, you want your newly deputized employees to actively observe and coach each other on creating the proper brand expressions. That is, you want these employees to help other employees align their thoughts, beliefs and actions. Working in a room together encourages this kind of one-on-one behavior from the start.
Trainer: The training should be delivered by the CEO, or other members of the C-suite. Nothing will help employees pay attention more than having the undivided attention of the CEO or VP for an extended period of time. If your C-suite objects to spending “so much time” on this activity, point out the positive consequences of doing so (the benefits of having an aligned team), as well as the potential negative consequences of not (Volkswagen). Seen in this light, any investment of time is very small, and the return will be huge.
Length: The training should last at least an hour, preferably more. The training outlined in the next whitepaper can take from two to three hours. Depending on the content and your goals, half a day may not be too long to allocate for your training.
Format: The training should not be conducted as a lecture. Employees learn less from listening to someone drone on than they do from participating in exercises. It’s true, you could pack all this content into a 20-minute video, or even an 8-page brochure. But you’d just be wasting your money, because you’d get little-to-no retention, and therefore no alignment.
Participation: All employees in the room should participate, regardless of rank or role within the company. This includes any managers and C-suite executives. It is especially important for managers to attend and participate. In fact, you may want to train these managers second, after you train the C-suite. These managers are the people who must ensure that this training isn’t a “one and done” activity, and that employees continue to receive reminders about what proper alignment looks like.
In particular, it is crucial that you ensure the participation of both your marketing and sales employees. The restructured relationship between marketing and sales (where marketing is responsible for developing qualified leads using marketing automation and developing the thought leadership tools to nurture these leads, while sales is responsible for qualifying, nurturing and closing these leads) means that both departments are “on the front lines.” They must be intimately familiar with the difference between proper and improper brand expressions, so they must all participate in this training.
Location: The training should happen off-site. This emphasizes to employees the importance of the experience.
Room: The training room should be set up in a manner conducive to working in small groups. You will have many employees in the room, but they will be working both individually and in small groups, so the room should be set up to support this. Round tables that seat 8-10 are ideal. You will need the following supplies:
- Flip chart (one for each table/small group)
- Flip chart markers
- Pens for everyone in the room
- Pads of paper; each respondent will need 2-3 sheets
- Handouts listing the attributes of your archetype
We also recommend that you have some customized items for each employee to take away with them, including things such as coffee mugs, desk calendars, etc. Putting the key messages on these items helps ensure that the messages won’t be filed in a desk drawer somewhere, never to be seen again.
Pre-training assessments and diagnostics for aligning your employees in your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization.
You should begin any alignment and training program by understanding clearly where your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization currently stands. This means you need to do some diagnostic work: What are your employees’ current attitudes, beliefs and behaviors? What archetype do they believe fits with your organization? What archetype do your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development products and services represent? What archetype is best representative of your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization’s culture? These are not questions that can be asked as I’ve written them here; your questions will need to be more subtle and sophisticated to get the
answers you need without having to teach the respondent what an archetype is in the first place, or without giving away the answers you expect. To begin with, many employees won’t immediately understand the concept of an archetype; fewer still can identify the appropriate set of attributes that distinguish your organization’s culture, its products and services, and the organization as a whole.
To facilitate this pre-training assessment, at Forma we’ve developed a set of diagnostic questions that we use with our life science, biotech, drug discovery or development clients. This assessment is conducted though an online survey that is administered to all employees. The results are often enlightening to the management team, particularly when sorted by office (physical location), department (function), or rank within the organization.
Ideally your diagnostic efforts began well before you selected an archetype, but if you neglected to conduct them then, they should definitely occur before the training itself, so the training can be shaped by the diagnostic findings. These results will also give you a baseline to compare against any assessments conducted post-training.
Armed with this information, you’ll have a clearer sense of how to create in your employees the understanding of your new archetype, and what type of thoughts, beliefs and behaviors are aligned with your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development organization’s expectations.
Achieving alignment requires effective training of your life science, biotech, drug discovery or development employees.
You are now set up to succeed in training your employees and aligning their thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. In the next issue, I’ll cover the actual training session itself, and explain how in less than half a day you can drive alignment deep within your organization. (Hint: It all begins with the topics I’ve outlined in this issue.)
Learn more about the use of archetypes in life science, biotech and drug development marketing and sales.
To learn more about archetypes, here are some links to previous issues: