Global Drug Label Expansion Team Overcomes Seemingly Insurmountable Communication Problems
Getting LCW on board was the best thing for this team. It made progress possible. We could not have achieved our success without the help that LCW provided and I am grateful that throughout, you guys always understood what we needed and worked hard to provide that.” - Senior Business Leader who sponsored the work
A pharmaceutical company who produces injectable medication and infusion technologies was facing daunting communication challenges while developing a new drug until, LCW removed their roadblocks with its highly-effective language and cross-cultural solutions. LCW crafted a solution that helped intelligent, experienced leaders in their field to better frame the role that cultural differences were having in their communication, localization and working relationships.
WHY THIS, WHY NOW?
The international teams were working against tight project timelines to execute their clinical trials and maximize their market opportunity for one of its medications. Beyond their demanding project considerations, the teams also quickly encountered both obvious and subtle cross-cultural miscommunication in the execution of this critical process, notably among the US, UK, Australian and Japanese teams. The company identified a small window to make a change, and an urgency to get everyone on the right track.
It was obvious that the cross-border teams weren’t agreeing on who should administer the drug, an IV sedative, but it was difficult to figure out why. That’s where they were stuck.
- In the U.S. and in many other countries, the medication was administered by the anesthesiologist; however, in Japan, this medication was administered by the surgeon or by another role – not by the anesthesiologist.
- From the U.S.’ and other countries’ points of view, the scoring system associated with the drug must be expertly interpreted by a trained specialist for correctly assessing how medicated a patient is, plus all clinical trials and preparation were done based on an specialist administering the medication.
- Japan preferred to change the medication labeling so that it didn’t require administration by the specialist, since they felt the drug was being administered safely by other physicians and medical professionals.
- This important process difference caused conflict since each side knew their own process worked well and considered it to be “correct” in their own context, which resulted in an interpretation that the other side was just “being difficult.”
HOW TO BRIDGE SO MANY GAPS IN SUCH A SHORT TIME?
LCW thoroughly scoped the team’s needs and designed bilingual (English and Japanese) cross-cultural and language solutions to ensure their immediate and ongoing success.
Bilingual cross-cultural training that built strong stakeholder buy-in by:
- Leading participants through a self-discovery learning process to uncover their own perspectives and presumptions.
- Using real client case studies like the one above, and giving participants tools to deconstruct and effectively navigate cross-cultural differences.
- Modeling best practices for virtual communication tools and client technology (e.g. WebEx, translated PPTs, data inputs from multiple global locations, etc.)
- Providing assignments for participants to apply learnings individually and in groups.
The training solutions provided a solid foundation from which all teams could start to employ their new cross-cultural communication tools to move forward with good will.
TRANSLATION & INTERPRETATION SOLUTIONS
- Timely translations and transcription of emails, presentations, inquiries, summaries, meeting notes and more to facilitate accurate communication.
- Technical interpretation provided at crucial meetings online, in person, and over the phone.
While cross-cultural training provided awareness to the underpinnings of their challenges, and the tools to navigate them, it was the crucial step of providing ongoing translation and interpretation that enabled the teams to gain the timely, accurate, and essential perspectives of their counterparts. Combining their tools with real-time insight was the solution that worked.
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED?
As a result of the initial cross-cultural training and the ongoing translation and interpretation support, the company succeeded in:
- Building additional awareness of how the different countries on this team operate in their work toward the common goal of timely and successful project execution—both in the next phase of the medication and on future company projects.
- Discovering best practices for building trusting relationships; including emphasis on any important cultural differences that have impacted team communication, trials, research protocols, and approval processes in-country.
- Establishing and incorporating a strong business case and appreciation for diverse team members and a deeper understanding of distinct channels for promoting how the medication is used around the world.
- Bridging the language and culture gap so that they were able to focus on the project work at hand and meet their deadlines as planned.