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Sptember 27, 2016


Shannon Quinn, the new PMCQ president, opened the first event of the 2016-2017 season by welcoming everyone and kicked off by discussing how the PMCQ events had helped her accelerate her integration into the pharmaceutical industry in Quebec. Shannon pointed out that the PMCQ is currently celebrating its 60th year, what an amazing legacy! She revealed that the PMCQ’s theme for this season is "Rediscover your PMCQ". She went on to explain the new theme for this season as being a spotlight on development topics coupled with debates around our changing industry landscape. All of the season’s event details, dates and topics can be found in our membership brochure and online at She also thanked all the generous sponsors from all different levels – Educational - Corporate and Supporting Partners. Shannon also reiterated the goal of the PMCQ; being your premier partner for education, career development and networking.

Martine Boily from Merck then introduced the evening speaker, Jean Francois Ouellet. He was introduced as a born innovator, entrepreneur and a marketing guru. He is also a professor at HEC, a television host and motivational speaker. Jean Francois took the stage and started by saying that he always had an itch for innovation ever since he could remember. He then added that he always wanted to make businesses more innovative and more creative, that’s one of his passions and he firmly believes that even with regulations and constraints this is truly possible.

Jean Francois began talking about innovations by giving a specific example from his days at Dispil Inc. (Packaging System Company dispensing medication) where employees at the beginning of the week would be energized, pumped, and full of creative ideas, however, by the end of the week they were demotivated and depressed due to the fact that none of their ideas had been accepted; every Monday morning, they would start the same process all over again.

Here’s a question that Jean Francois asks himself on a regular basis: It is a curse to be in an over regulated environment and go through these limitations week after week? The answer is that constraints such as those brought by regulations are not bad; they are actually a good thing and they have a tendency to make you better in your creative process.

Jean Francois enumerated a few notorious examples of Innovations developed through major constraints:

  • Sistine Chapel: Michelangelo made a masterpiece out of the Sistine Chapel, notwithstanding the fact that he was not involved in the design and had to live with the existing constraints of the environment.
  • Apollo 13 Mission: Faced with time and resource constraints they were able to make a square shape fit into a round hole; those constraints brought forward all the ingenuity and the creative talent of the team.

According to Jean Francois, the main governing principles allowing companies to be able to innovate and come up with creative ideas is a matter of culture.

Jean Francois defines culture as a group phenomenon; it comes from a group having similar values.

Listed below are the 4 major factors that will have a vast impact under a strict regulated environment

  1. The risk threshold in each organization has to be defined and communicated to everyone (We are willing to live with a little grey zone in the decisions we make, although, this is where we draw the line).
  2. Empower people, let them know what the company limits are and give them incentives (the higher you go, the better it is).
  3. Enhance and promote the value of speaking up - share the increased risk in staying quiet (you have to stand up for what you believe and be able to say this doesn’t work and we should do it differently).
  4. Hiring principles: Hiring is done on competencies, talent, and or personality (if you routinely hire people that are not risk takers and prone to saying no more often than yes, you most probably will not have an innovative company).

Innovation governing principles

  • Innovation requires courage. Being innovative is not only generating new products or new ideas, it’s also being able to adopt new ways of seeing things. Innovative companies are not afraid of being in the unknown zone. They know it’s going to be risky, for them staying put is more risky than innovating.
  • Sky is the limit! If you are not disturbing anybody, you are not innovating.
  • Most innovative companies work within parameters - they think inside the box, though that box has been defined as having huge limits (you can go as far as you want, as long as you stay within those established limits).

According to Jean Francois these 2 majors’ sets of constraints will help to get that creative and innovative boost going:

  • Deadlines: Setting clear and aggressive deadlines.
  • 2 Pizzas rule: If a team cannot be fed with 2 pizzas, the team is too big. Limit yourself to a small contributing team.

How are innovative companies promoting creativity amongst their employees?

  1. Each day take 10-15 minutes and reflect on what went wrong today, what could have been done differently in order to improve things?
    • It takes 3,000 ideas to come up with 1 success
  2. List those ideas; 9 ideas out of 10 will be lost.
  3. An idea is never born great… it becomes great when it’s shared and discussed with people.
  4. Comfort for most innovative companies is seen as a danger, if things are doing great, something is wrong, it’s important to get back into the danger zone.

Jean Francois key takeaway points were:

  • Innovation is not rocket science. Most companies who do survive and keep innovating are putting in place the 4 factors (listed above) that will have a huge impact despite a highly regulated environment.
  • If you are going to do anything, take baby steps, don’t try to make a revolution in one day, "just do it day by day"!
  • Develop a mind set: to become more creative, you need to take risk and get out of your comfort zone.


Jo-Ann Charland
Training Consultant and Medical Writer
Cell: 438-998-0498


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Green Shoots of Opportunity:
How to Find and Harvest Green Shoots in Pharma

Virtual Meeting
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Online only!

Tel: (514) 486-3458
Fax: (514) 486-4794

Creative by Toc Toc Communications
Printing courtesy of Data-Ad
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Digital courtesy of
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