Matt Herper, On Merck’s “No-Change” In Strategy. . . Erh, Change In Strategy(!)

I’ve long admired his ability to cut to through the thicket, and eliminate pharma-jargon, in his writing.

This may be as fine an Exhibit A as I’ve run across, for Matt Herper’s keen use of prose. None of the buzzwords and euphemisms so common in Perlmutter’s and Frazier’s speech-ifying, appear in Matt’s writing.

And that, my friends, is for all of our educational benefit. For if Joseph Joubert said that “Words, like glasses, obscure everything which they do not make clear. . .” — then Merck’s leadership needs a new prescription, it seems. Certainly so, at least insofar as their press-writing is concerned, in my opinion.

But Matt takes these two luminous speakers (Frazier and Perlmutter), and renders them clear: i.e., this now is no longer the old MRL “big science — for big questions” approach, at all. No, this is the nimble, fast, small and stealthy approach — looking for spiders under just a few rocks, high-up, above timber-line, on a remote mountain, where no one has yet been kicking about. We shall see how it turns out. In the mean time, here is the concluding bit from Matt’s piece — do go read it all:

. . . .Frazier, despite saying that this is the beginning of transformational change, also insisted on a conference call with analysts last week that Merck is not changing its strategy. He notes that Merck is not entering new businesses, like generic drugs, nor spinning off units like its veterinary or consumer units – although he says Merck is constantly considering whether those businesses work better inside Merck, or outside it.

“Maybe this may strike you as a better way of saying it,” he told me. “The what of the strategy is exactly the same, the how of how we execute the strategy across the company, especially in our commercial and R&D organizations, is a little bit different. We are being much more precise about where we allocate resources going forward, and that to me is what the distinction is.”

If Frazier and Perlmutter are going to bring Merck back to its former place as the most respected of companies, they’re going to need to make that “a little bit different” sound like the understatement of the year. . . .

Nicely-put, Matt. Nicely-put indeed. Do go read it, one and all.


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