Pfizer 2011 Annual Review | Pfizer: the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company


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Colleagues – Creating an Ownership Culture

Each of us, each colleague, is taking ownership of what we do and what we accomplish, as individuals and as a business.

Ten years ago, Pfizer made a deliberate choice—to begin calling our co-workers "colleagues" rather than "employees." This was more than a symbolic change. It was a shared recognition that Pfizer's most important assets leave our building at the end of each workday, and that much of Pfizer's value is represented by intangible assets—the intellectual property, proprietary technology and customer goodwill created and protected by our colleagues.

Over the past year, we made another deliberate choice—to engage our colleagues as owners of the business and build an ownership culture. Again, this was more than a symbolic change. Our drive to create an ownership mindset is rooted in research done among more than 11,000 global Pfizer colleagues, asking them very directly what was right about our corporate culture, and what needed improvement. We sharpened our approach through numerous meetings with colleagues at all levels, from the people working at the front lines of manufacturing, research and customer service to the Executive Leadership Team. We then boiled the findings down to five attributes that we believe can distinguish us from our competitors.

Colleagues told us that the ownership culture they wanted would:

  • Allow them to seize opportunities to think differently, take thoughtful risks and be accountable for results, and try new approaches to doing things.
  • Help them advocate for and drive long-term, well-aligned strategies that advance Pfizer's mission and shape the industry.
  • Give them the freedom—and responsibility—to confront corrosive, self-serving and mean-spirited behaviors.
  • Depend on them to deliver on the commitments they make with speed, decisiveness and integrity.
  • Encourage them to give voice to their thoughts, invest time in candid and constructive debate, and get straight talk from each other and from their leadership.

Early in 2012, Pfizer's Chairman and CEO, Ian Read, launched this ownership model to colleagues, with the goal of pushing Pfizer toward a culture of fuller engagement, where there is a common language and a common set of expectations and behaviors. This new ownership model recognizes that Pfizer and its competitors have outstanding brainpower, and that it is how Pfizer engages, utilizes, develops and expands our brainpower that spells the difference between being "a leading company" and being the undisputed leader, the team that everyone wants to play for.

Building an Ownership Culture

An ownership culture is rooted in engagement—how willing colleagues are to invest extra effort in their work, stand up for the company in daily activities, and treat their positions within Pfizer as "more than just a job." Engagement itself is rooted in communication and dialogue and begins with clear, frequent and candid conversations about how the business is doing and what we can collectively do to change it. Pfizer has a strong heritage of engaged conversation with colleagues. Today, company-wide "town halls" conducted by members of the Executive Leadership Team follow each quarterly report on financial results. These meetings are designed to put those results into context, answer questions from colleagues around the world, and demonstrate how investors and other stakeholders view our performance. These "town halls" are conducted by webcast and are beamed to Pfizer's major sites. We also invest in a robust intranet presence, called PfizerWorld, to keep colleagues informed of events around the company and to help them share best practices. At sites in all the nations where Pfizer people work, local management is accountable for making sure that colleagues know how the business is progressing and are fully engaged in its success. Pfizer invests substantially in the training needed to stay compliant and in surveys of our colleagues that measure inclusion, engagement and colleague understanding of our opportunities and challenges.

Anchored on the bedrock of candid communications, the ownership mindset takes root when colleagues have a greater opportunity to take thoughtful risks and try new ideas. The following are examples from the many thousands that could have been discussed here. In 2011, a group of Pfizer colleagues took up the task of reviewing the thousands of labels that Pfizer uses for its medicines around the world, organizing them into a new database and creating a system where any label, in any market, could be called up in seconds to a computer screen by any colleague authorized to do so. Initial estimates to have an outside company do the bulk of the work started at $250,000 and went up rapidly from there. These colleagues found a way to get the system up and running for under $20,000. A second example concerns the transformation of Lipitor from a patent-protected medicine in the United States to one facing generic competition. A team of Pfizer colleagues took a new approach to help patients satisfied with the Lipitor experience stay on the brand they trusted. As a result, Lipitor has remained competitive and the rate of market erosion due to Lipitor's loss of exclusivity has been slower than those of many other major drugs that have lost exclusivity. This greater competitiveness with generics means many more patients are able to access Lipitor and adds millions of dollars to Pfizer's top and bottom lines. These and many other examples demonstrate that Pfizer colleagues understand the importance of every dollar earned and saved in building the company for long-term success.

2011 Highlights

  • Created OWN IT!, a new culture model for the entire enterprise, applying to all colleagues in all regions of the world.
  • Launched a global recruitment brand, "Many Paths, One Goal," established to share the multitude of careers and job opportunities at Pfizer. Our hiring practices and internal job posting program promote Pfizer's continued interest in growing talent. We are committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment where all colleagues contribute to the organization's success.
  • Created an additional resource for colleagues seeking confidential guidance about raising and resolving work-related issues, through the company's Office of the Ombudsman.
  • Created a new interactive and innovative online learning experience, Make It Your Business, which provides every colleague with foundational knowledge to build business and financial acumen and to understand how Pfizer meets commitments to stakeholders, including patients, customers and shareholders.
  • The Pfizer Senior Leader Experience has now reached the top 800 senior leaders at Pfizer. This program focuses on developing and executing strategies to gain competitive advantage while leveraging innovation. Additionally, leaders gain insight into leadership styles and how they directly impact the performance of their teams and organizations.
  • Pfizer's Cornerstones of Management program is designed to accelerate the development of our managers to best handle current and future business challenges in an increasingly complex, dynamic and global marketplace. In 2011, over 3,700 of our managers began this innovative program.