Follow the science, follow the Fauci

What works for clinical trials can also work for business

According to recent surveys, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the plain-talking, renowned immunologist, who emerged as the voice of reason throughout COVID-19, is now one of the most trusted Americans. This inspired a nightly cable news network to end each broadcast with the tagline: Follow the Science, follow the Fauci.

Following medical science’s specific protocols worked to create vaccines in record time to stem the scourge of this virus. These provide an excellent model for businesses to utilize in developing new products, services and methods.

Scientific methodologies encompass a disciplined process that reduces guessing and hip-shooting. They can also be adopted for business in just about any undertaking. The life-saving coronavirus inoculations have made companies stand up and admiringly notice the magnitude of this accomplishment, which was achieved in mere months instead of years.

Let’s examine in non-scientific language how medical clinical trials are employed to validate vaccine efficacies and how this comparable action sequence can be translated to business. It all starts with the strong belief that a new treatment may improve care. This is no different than a company surfacing an idea that deserves further examination. The road map used by medical science typically includes four phases*. This same rigor can be adopted for commerce as well.

*Phase 0. The first step in health care is to learn how a drug is processed in the body by giving a small dose to a limited number of people. Businesses can do the same, running the concept by a small focus group of non-company people who aren’t told who’s conducting the study.

*Phase I. This step is to find the best use of the drug with the fewest negatives. The test expands to 15 to 30-plus patients. In business, a prototype of the widget can be introduced for initial reactions from a similar number of people.

*Phase II. The drug is given to a larger number of patients with the same specific illness. Modifications are sometimes made in the formulation, searching for enhancements that may improve outcomes. It is no different from what a company can do with a like group to test a product by adding other whistles and bells.

*Phase III. The formulation is now tested against the “current standard of care.” This step includes a much bigger and broader group of as many as thousands. The trial is randomized, meaning only some of the patients are administered the new medicine. A harmless placebo is also dispensed to others in this phase. This lets scientists know that the results are due to the treatment and not the group’s composition. This same protocol works for business through side-by-side evaluations between one or more alternative versions of the product or process to determine which is better.

In medicine, the first objective is always: “Do no harm,” and for business, it’s: “Don’t throw good money after bad.” For both disciplines, if any phase of a trial fails acceptable minimal benchmarks, it’s time to pull the plug and start over or move on.

Enhancing the assertion: “Follow the science, follow the Fauci,” I add one other simple admonition: “Wear the friggin’ mask.” It won’t kill you, but if you don’t, the virus just might.

*Footnote: Clinical Phase numbering and description from NCCN.org (National Comprehensive Cancer Network.) Other organizations’ phase numbering varies.

Visit Michael Feuer’s website www.TipsFromTheTop.info to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”