Introducing the Ideal Pharmaceutical Teaching Tool: Risky Business, The Pharmaceutical Industry Board Game

Risky Business, the pharmaceutical industry board game, is becoming a must-have when it comes to teaching about the pharmaceutical industry.

Risky Business is a strategy training workshop in the form of a board game in which team members take on the role of executives of a mid-size pharmaceutical company. Players of all levels can quickly and easily gain profound insights into the complex mechanics of R&D and BD&L processes and strategies. The game gives them the experience of a multi-year drug development process, the creation of corporate strategies, management of the R&D pipeline, and the execution of partnering strategies (from searching for partners to negotiations).

Our Risky Business workshop is an innovative, informative and interactive experience and can be used for:

  • Team building
  • Retreats (group, departmental, management, etc.)
  • Team integration
  • On-boarding of new hires or new team members
  • Further career development
  • Internal communication
  • External communication and public relations

To make such a workshop more beneficial, relevant and effective:

  • We can accommodate groups of 12 to 200 participants
  • Participants form at least four groups, each representing the executive team of a pharmaceutical company
  • During the game, between seven and nine turns are played
  • In each turn, teams receive funding and Phase I projects and invest in their projects or infrastructure; they can negotiate and arrange deals with other teams
  • Each team completes its turn by paying for R&D projects, infrastructure investments and deals, where applicable; rolling the dice determines the success or failure of each R&D project
  • The team with the highest company value in the final turn wins (different objectives can be set)
  • Discussion topics and overall themes can be tailored to each audience’s needs
  • Our workshop facilitators are all very experienced and incorporate many years of intimate working knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry

Each game lasts approximately five hours. Participants experience project successes and failures, and watch licensing deals produce value or write-offs. They therefore see the benefits and risks of going it alone vs. partnering in development, manufacturing, and marketing and sales.

Who should play

Risky Business can be played by professionals from inside and outside the pharmaceutical industry who want to gain strategic insight into the financial decisions of R&D and BD&L. The game can be played by all levels, from the executive board to operational functions.

Companies typically play Risky Business at departmental retreats, strategic planning processes, and human resource programmes, as well as global company meetings.

Outsiders to the pharmaceutical industry can also benefit from playing Risky Business. The game has been played by patient advocacy groups and patients, the press, politicians and other stakeholders in the healthcare system. The game helps all these groups better understand the complexities of bringing promising new drugs to market.

The benefits

Risky Business is simultaneously a fun experience and a challenging team exercise, one that deepens strategic thinking and understanding across all functions and levels in pharmaceutical companies. The game is an effective way for pharmaceutical professionals to become more knowledgeable about their roles in the two core processes of their company: R&D and BD&L.

For people outside the industry, Risky Business provides deep insights into the mechanics of pharmaceutical R&D, progress, risk and failure – areas that are not always fully understood.

Risky Business helps managers get to know each other in critical ways. It provides a safe environment for highlighting problems, staging productive conflicts and, more importantly, learning how to resolve them to produce the best outcome for a pharmaceutical company.

Research on motivation has found that playing games is far more engaging than listening to lectures. Studies suggest that inspiring people to learn new things requires challenge, curiosity, fantasy and control. Risky Business is built on these principles.

Various topical presentations can be inserted during the workshop at appropriate times to mirror what is happening in the game. Some of the most used topics are:

  • Drug development phases
  • Drug development timelines
  • Success rates of projects in development
  • Partnering
  • Cost(s) of R&D
  • Innovation vs. expenditure for innovation
  • Portfolio management practices
  • Role of BD&L in risk mitigation
  • What companies can do better

Please let us show you how Risky Business can help your orginisation. Contact us for more information.

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