Global Pharmaceutical Company Accelerating New Product Innovation in Consumer Health

Industry: Pharmaceutical

Expertise: Innovation, Rapid Results

Schaffer Team: Patrice Murphy, Jonathan Stearn

An intense 100-day effort yielded three brand new, consumer-tested product ideas targeted to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.


The Consumer Health division of a global pharmaceutical company needed to drive radical innovation to meet shifting consumer needs. Keen to take fewer pills, consumers want alternative solutions to prevent and relieve pain. New technologies, smart devices, connected communities, virtual reality – all these offer exciting potential. But the company struggled to break free of its pharmaceutical roots to move quickly and take prudent risks to tap into these opportunities.


The company asked Schaffer Consulting to bring its Rapid Results process for lean innovation to help accelerate new product development and enable a more entrepreneurial culture.

Schaffer started with the sponsors and team leader, defining the challenge in terms of a significant result over 2-3 years. We then helped assemble a team drawn from core business functions including R&D and product development, marketing, project management, regulatory, and IT. Schaffer facilitated a fast-paced team launch and the setting of an audacious 100-day goal: To identify and validate several brand new product ideas that could, by 2020, contribute millions of dollars to a hefty revenue target.

The team leveraged consumer insights available from prior research to identify several new product and service solutions. They then took the most promising of these to consumers to test their viability. Through interviews with 74 customers, 16 health care providers, 15 potential partners, and 25 consumers, they were able to zero in on the offerings most likely to win in the market.

During the last month of the 100-day effort, three sub-teams sprinted to define, refine, and validate their proposals into a one-page Business Model Canvas showing the target customers, the specific product/service offerings, potential partners, projected revenue models, and so on.

“First class work. An inspiration,” was the reaction of one executive sponsor at the project close-out. “This is mind blowing. The team has clearly over-delivered, you’ve totally exceeded expectations. I want to express my admiration and gratitude for what you’ve done and the passion you have brought to this effort.”

Investment decisions followed, channeling the new business ideas into various pathways for development. One bootstrapped the same project team to continue on to next-stage validation. Another was tapped for intensive development by a team in a company accelerator.


Three brand new, consumer-validated products in 100 days is a remarkable achievement. But the gains did not end there.

The team pioneered a mindset and methods to enable accelerated product development. For example, in addition to utilizing a dedicated consumer research lab for formal data collection, they used dozens of informal “outside the building” interviews to test consumer reaction. This was a major mindset shift – bucking the conventional process to move quickly with less formal structure. It worked and demonstrated what is possible when thinking differently – an insight that team members have committed to leverage going forward.

Another notable outcome was team members’ discovery of their own creative abilities. The Regulatory professional, for example, who was usually concerned with strict controls to ensure compliance with medical regulation – telling people what they cannot do – exceled at enabling creative approaches to consumer research. And the IT expert was able to tap into his passion for cutting-edge technologies and his strong healthcare background to develop a novel solution unseen in the marketplace.

And the cross-functional team process, described by one participant as the best they’d experienced in 25 years, generated long-lasting relationships members continue to leverage.

In just 100 days, the team astonished itself with the growth of leadership, talent, and results – reimagining a major pain medicine as an entire suite of pain management experiential tools.