The Elephant in the Room at JPM: Exclusive CEO Insight

The 42nd Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And for those who didn’t get a chance to attend and might be suffering from JOMO (JPM FOMO), please enjoy this brilliant survival guide.

Despite all the packed rooms, grandiose headlines, and general positive vibe among life sciences executives and investors, there was a distinct elephant in the room that no one seemed to want to acknowledge: 

Not all companies can be winners. 

So how can you tell which proverbial horse to bet on? It’s more clear-cut than you might think. Here’s how you can spot them and what the implication really means. 

Let’s dive in . . . .

There are Two Types of Life Sciences Companies

There are two types of life sciences companies. Which type you are has a dramatic impact on your ability to achieve commercial success:

  1. Ones (very few) who are on a bold journey to create a very different future in healthcare and business outcomes.

  2. Ones (many) that choose to sell a commodity (undifferentiated product) into a crowded category and experience persistently unreliable revenue.

Many of the latter companies could easily be spotted at JPM: 

What This Really Means

What these presentations are really saying is, “We’re going to launch a product or service in an existing market category. Then, we’re going to market why ours is better than the competition. Once the world sees that we’re better, they’ll stop buying from the current category king and start buying from us. Then, we’ll be known as the best.

But history is clear about what happens to companies that choose to compete by pursuing this above-mentioned go-to-market strategy:

A leaner organization is not enough to fix this. 
Firing your VP of Sales and bringing in someone new, despite facing the exact same issues, is also not a solution.
Doubling down on your product innovation is not enough. 

This comes down to a fundamental business strategy decision.

Do you choose to compete, or do you choose to create?

There are companies that create different futures in healthcare with different products that unlock exponential value for providers and patients. They also experience exponential business outcomes. 

Then there are companies that compete with a “better” strategy (meaning your product has one feature that’s better than your competitor’s, so that makes you different) provide only incremental impact and experience unreliable revenue. 

How Creating CEOs Get It Right

CEOs of companies that create understand a few critical differences in this approach:

1. They cannot chain themselves to the current standard of care. They lead with the powerful question, “What if a new outcome (an outcome we haven’t considered before) was possible?” [Note: They don’t use the lens of “a new product.” They use the lens of a new future.]

2. They will not allow themselves to compete over old solutions in the current world and don’t worry about being the best in the way history has defined it. By definition, a competitive lens is backward-looking and will likely produce an incremental outcome, not an exponential one.

3. Instead, they focus on solving a problem that, if solved, would drive people to rapidly reject the current standard (product, procedure, drug) and embrace something new to transform them from today’s suboptimal experience to a different and better future. 

4. They must teach a strategic and select audience (employee talent, clinicians, and investors) about the future potential of this category, why it matters, and why it hasn’t happened before now. This point of view or narrative creates a common problem to rally around and is one of the most reliable ways to drive revenue. And the process can and should start before commercial availability.

A Cautionary Tale

It was hard to spot at JPM, but we did see a few savvy executives who recognize a fundamentally different commercial strategy is necessary going forward. In an industry where old habits die hard, this may serve as a cautionary inflection point for other life sciences leaders and investors. 

We look forward to seeing how these creating companies redefine the standard of healthcare with new categories of solutions. And we should also expect to see these creating companies grow revenue 4x faster and market cap 6x faster than other companies. That’s the real difference that being different makes. 

If you’re ready to have an honest conversation about whether you’re on the exponential vs incremental path—and how you may need to pivot, reach out to schedule a complimentary call to uncover how you can adjust your strategy to create radical differentiation, deliver massive value, and a breakthrough in growth.

If you want to pursue the most reliable way to grow your revenue and market cap, please call us.

Our #1 priority is giving you a proven category-driven commercial growth strategy using brain science to create differentiation that matters to patients and providers, activates behavior change, and accelerates demand for your device, drug, or therapy.

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