CL Takes SXSW - Day 4

Science of Metrics, Housing for Better Health and Innovation in Pursuit for the Unexpected 

One of the big differences between SXSW and conferences that focus solely on the Pharma industry is the variety of topics you are exposed to. There has been great programming all week within the Health and MedTech track, yet if those were the only sessions we went to, we’d lose the exposure to out-of-the box thinking and ideas coming from other industries. A few of our highlighted sessions we’ve written about below are just those.

Other inspiration comes from all around (as in—you can stumble upon it). I happened across a 2-day pop up VR exhibit hall, with 15-20 immersive programs open for viewing. Two I attended were Mercy Ships (Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab), and Nothing to be Written (59 Productions and BBC VR). Ten and six minutes respectively, these powerful stories were made even more so with the added immersive ability VR provides.


SWSW Session:

Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab
More here

Nothing to be Written

SXSW Session:

BBC Review of the Piece
More Here


The impact of housing on health

SXSW Session:

So much of our time in pharma marketing is focusing on treating a specific diagnosis, and not considering systemic or root problems of what’s making people unhealthy. If healthcare only counts for 20% of people’s health, are we treating the other factors? 
One of those main factors is accessible housing. Hosted by Kaiser Permanente, this session brought together business, government, healthcare and community organizers to discuss the factors facing affordable housing, the impact it has on health and what’s being done to help battle the housing crisis. A few key areas include:
People and Process: Organizing communities to collaborate and work together towards the same problem. Seems like a no brainer, but with budgets being cut at federal, state and local levels, priorities don’t always align, even when working toward the same problems. Led by Roseanne Haggarty, Community Solutions works with local communities to help solve complex housing problems. At the time of the session, she proudly announced 10 of the communities they’re working with have ended or significantly reduced their homelessness problems, with 30 more making positive strides to do the same. 
Technology and Data: Kaiser has partnered with Tableau and Community Solutions to help communities better collect, visualize and report on data that typically has been siloed. By giving communities this technology and the data about what’s going on in their communities, it helps highlight problems, and to better show and enable shared efforts in real-time.  For additional details on the program, please read:


Milk Bar: Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected

SXSW Session:


Milk Bar is a chain of dessert and bakery restaurants owned chef Christina Tosi. She’s the winner of a James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award. They are known for innovative cookies and cakes.

She started Milk Bar in New York City’s East Village in 2008 in a 250 square foot storefront. Fast forward ten years, she has 16 stores and employs almost 400 people. The way she made the logo was by opening up Microsoft word, typing “Milk”, changing the font to brush stroke medium, and changing the color to pink. Boom, logo. Over the past ten years, the brand continued to grow, and Christina found herself in a situation where the brand she loved for being gritty and funky was making her crazy. Even though she knew the brand better than anyone, she knew it needed consistency, but didn’t know where to begin. After meeting with 20 agencies, she hired Redscout to help. They worked with her to develop a design system for Milk Bar. The system wasn’t a radical transformation but did drive cohesiveness with the brand. Redscout created rules for the logo and a toolkit of branding parts that could be used. The full rebranding of Milk Bar was complete last fall. Social media is up 130% since rebranding.

This example hits particularly close to home for me. I work on a product that has been on the market for ten years. We’re working on helping them with a brand refresh. Christina had a really open relationship with her agency and realized that nothing was sacred. The branding didn’t change that much, but it feels new, fresh, and consistent. It’s a fun example to bring to clients outside the pharma space.

The Science of Metrics

SXSW Session:

A question many people ask is, “what should we measure?” However, the question they should be asking is, “why are we measuring?” The answer is not to prove what you already know, but rather to discover what happened and why. The ultimate goal of using metrics is to decide. Data creates information, which in turn informs actions. Your choice of metrics must define the problem you’re trying to solve and align with your strategic objectives. Once you have a set of metrics, you must estimate their “meta-metrics,” sensitivity and correlation. Sensitivity indicates how easily you can influence a metric, and correlation indicates how much that metric leads to desired outcomes. These two meta-metrics, however, are in a Pareto Efficiency – meaning, increasing sensitivity lowers correlation, and vice versa – so you must understand which metrics provide the best trade-offs, and those are the ones to focus on improving most. You can do this by mapping them out on a chart with each axis as a quantification for each meta-metric. Another area to focus on is understanding what behaviors improving your metric will encourage or discourage, and ensure those behaviors align with your overall strategy.

Jeff Bezos once said: “I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ I almost never get the question: ‘What’s NOT going to change in the next 10 years?’ That second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”


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