Eli Lilly

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Case# 6 - Eli Lilly: The Elvista Project
1. What is a "heavyweight project team" and how does it differ from the traditional approach used for organizing projects at Eli Lilly?
Their traditional approach was much less organized and personal. Heavy weight teams at Eli Lilly were setup so that specialized individuals would work on one project (as opposed to several) led by a project manager. The project manager would then designate individual jobs and make sure that they were completed. Five key characteristics made up a heavy weight project team. The first characteristic was that the team was to “focus on the development of a single compound”. Second the teams were co-located and cross functional. Third each team was led by a “heavyweight project manager”. Fourth, each team took responsibility for the results, actions, and substance of their work. Fifth each team had two executive sponsors, one from Lilly Research Labs and one from a business group.

2. What is your assessment of the two heavyweight project teams described in the case? What factors contributed most to these performance results? In the pharmaceutical context, how far back in the development process should heavyweight teams be deployed (e.g., just for Phase III, Phase II-B, Phase II-A, Phase I)? Why?
Both Heavyweight project teams were extremely successful. Evista and Zyprexa cut back on development time and development costs while also improving the quality of their work. During the Evista project you can see how well the “heavyweight project team” dealt with mishaps. Evista handled a problem, which should have delayed them 4 weeks, in a weeks’ time. For both the Zyprexa and Evista team, the project managers played a pivotal role because they were in charge of all ongoing aspects of the project. This led to the development of a “system solution”, rather than functional groups focusing on a certain end state. Heavyweight Teams should be deployed in Phase III through the FDA approval

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