Viv recently spoke with Kelyn Lanier, Co-Founder and VP/Chief Strategy Officer at Praetorian Rx LLC, about the changing landscape among pharmacy, biotechnology and medical device industries as it relates to innovation. Below are Lanier’s thoughts on how risk and regulation impact innovation.

Every business, organization, or even group of people has a culture. Culture can be viewed as an “operating system” by which, in this instance, a company completes any given set of objectives. Culture is adaptive and thus responds to external influences over time, constantly evolving or resisting change. Lanier believes that by examining culture’s interaction with those driving industry forces such as regulation, common and best practices and common behaviors. organizational leaders can better position their tactics and strategies to achieve greater and more efficient progress and success.

Theoretically, healthcare culture should be patient-centric, innovative, progressive and inspiring. That said, in healthcare, these cultural lines are significantly entrenched in hyper-risk adverse patterns because of normative pressure and coercive pressures spurred by regulation. This stagnation is having an adverse impact on the healthcare industry as a whole.

Those in the pharmacy, biotechnology and medical device industries aspire to be innovative; however, hyper- risk adverse behavior and constant changes in regulations create uncertainty and confusion. This, in turn, is diminishing the ability, but more importantly, the desire to take risks, break the mold and do something that’s never been done, which is ultimately causing innovation to suffer.

The level of regulation in the industry is understandable; after all, these fields often produce products and services that have the ability to directly and substantially impact the lives of the patients benefiting from them. The complexity of navigating this landscape is that the boundaries of these rules can be somewhat blurred. The consequences of violating these nebulous rules, however, are very clear. An unintended consequence of such a combination of nebulous rules and high stakes environment is that companies, organizations and devices seeking to get ahead by innovation are constantly nudged toward playing it safe because they have been forced to stick with what has already been done.

Innovation flourishes in a setting in which failure is supported, not severely punished. In an industry that should be, and can be, lead by innovation, there is not much room for failure. This is where we return to the often-disregarded notion of culture. Organizational leaders should look to use culture as a tool. Lamenting about regulation is likely to change nothing in the short term, but leaders can inspire their people to come up with diverse solutions rather than focus on singular roadblocks. Lanier encourages leaders to build creative teams with a high degree of autonomy to tackle the stickier portions of larger issues. In these microcosms, failure can occur and be encouraged within controlled environments where the patient will not suffer.

So, what can individual business owners, organizations and leaders do? Spend time diving into the “why.” Innovation is a deeply human characteristic that stems from questioning reality. “Why do we do things this way?” “Where did this practice come from and is it still the best way?” Use these questions to start the process of hacking your organization’s culture, but don’t stop there. Create a “skunk works,” fostering an environment and opportunity for innovation and impactful change, where you don’t propagate the pressures of the greater industry. Acknowledge that regulation has a place, but don’t let it scare you; in business, you’ll find that almost everything is movable when you approach it from the right angle. Where there are risk and ethics, integrity and the spirit of the law are followed.

Normative pressure and the fear of taking risks are the limiting factors. Luckily, they are both notions that exist only because we lend credence to them. Take your big ideas to the areas of innovation and see what comes up. When you find yourself thinking, “No one does that,” go there! Think bigger, better and further-push the limits to allow your innovative ideas to thrive.

Give your company culture another look; it’s not just a soft concept for HR and morale. Think: How have you shaped your company culture to become an engine to cross the bridge you couldn’t conceptualize on your own? If culture is but an operating system for a company, shouldn’t you shape your engine to think for you and with you, to perform complex calculations to derive ingenious solutions that continue to propel the industry forward? This is your culture, the culture of the healthcare industry, and the culture of an awakened, patient-centered, progressive future.

Kelyn Lanier is an entrepreneur, business owner and Industrial-Organizational consultant specializing in complex adaptive human systems. He and his brother have co-founded six successful companies across the nation with their newest venture taking aim at eliminating PBM related waste and costs for employers across the nation. In this family of companies, Lanier functions as a strategic leader and utilizes his specialized background to create lean companies and dynamic human systems that often defy the industry expectations of what is possible. The Lanier Brothers’ companies have generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue for their clients and have saved millions of dollars in healthcare-related costs for patients.