Introduction: Know How to Play the Game

In football, or in pharma, building a team is only half the battle. It's what you do with your team that matters most.
Oct 01, 2006


Jeannette Park
In Invincible, Disney's adaptation of the true story of Vincent Papale, the down-on-his-luck teacher tries out for his dream job: a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles football team. As a 30-year-old rookie with little experience, Papale is pushed around and unsupported by his teammates. In the face of adversity, Papale challenges himself to work even harder, eventually earning the faith of his peers. The last scene is the perfect Hollywood ending—a glorious touchdown play illustrating how teamwork and perseverance pay off.

To compare a football team's success to that of a pharma partnership might not seem at first like an obvious analogy—or is it? There are two sides within both teams (in football, there's offense and defense), they both face unanticipated challenges, and they both have to set aside differences to find common ground. In other words, it's all about teamwork.

Teamwork is a common theme in this sixth volume of the Successful Product Manager's Handbook. In his piece, Michael Durand, managing director for healthcare strategy and planning for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, discusses how long-term thinking and patience helps pharma companies and advocacy groups form successful alliances. The relationship isn't quid pro quo—it's about cooperation, and understanding where each side stands on issues.

And what happens if three (or more) becomes a crowd? It doesn't have to, according to Megan Svensen, executive vice president of Marina Maher Communications. When working with multiple agencies, pharma companies have to break down silos and challenge their partners to work together as teammates.

There isn't a movie featuring a successful pharma partnership—yet. Why not make one of your own?

Jeannette Park is Pharmaceutical Executive's special projects editor. She can be reached at