Novartis CEO goes on a 'decluttering' drive

New Novartis (NYSE:NVS) chief Joe Jiminez (photo) is talking execution again. In an interview with the Financial Times, Jiminez described some of his initiatives--and they're all about the E word. Translating strategy into speedy, disciplined action is his management game.

We've talked about his efforts to overhaul decision-making at Novartis, to make sure people could make their choices "decisively and quickly," as he says. As he's worked to "declutter" the decision-making process, he's been whittling away at the company's performance indicators; apparently, Novartis was measuring too many of them. Getting rid of some of them puts the focus in the right places.

Meanwhile, the company has been on a cost-cutting drive, just like everyone else in Big Pharma. Jiminez says he's cutting costs not for its own sake, but to make more money available for R&D. "That's why I talk about innovation in the same breath as cost control: improving productivity allows us to continue our investment and maintain it over time," he tells the FT.

To that end, Jiminez has brought in some systems from his experience in the consumer-products industry, such as a new process for competitive bidding of contracts with suppliers. 

He's also focusing on marketing and sales spending; when he got to Novartis' pharma division, the ratio of that spending to net revenue was 33 percent, and now it's just 28 percent. The company achieved some of that decline by using sales reps more effectively, he says. And as its product line-up moves more toward targeted treatments such as cancer drugs--rather than primary-care blockbusters--the company is overhauling sales even more by using a "key accounts" model rather than doctor-by-doctor detailing.

- read the FT piece