Design Research and Strategy, Graduate Student at Carnegie Mellon University
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Pfizer Technology Horizons

I helped facilitate, provide subject matter expertise, and report a series of workshops with product teams at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. The client was seeking opportunities to grow their market leadership through new technology platforms. Together we identified future trends in pain management and translated those drivers of change into compelling product and service offerings.

Workshop facilitator, subject matter expert, scribe, writer

Strategic Technology Roadmapping

With: Russ Martinelli, Irene Petrick, and Tim Rahschulte
For: Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
Duration: 3 months

Call to Action

The workshop began by defining a goal that serves to galvanize participants’ thinking. Pfizer’s leadership proposed annual revenue and market share growth targets, as well as the goal of eliminating a pattern of expensive one-offs in new product development.

Environmental Scan

Teams then agreed on the specific dimensions of the external environment they wished to explore. They worked together to brainstorm events likely to occur over a five to ten year horizon. This activity was performed twice (the first time is an individual effort based on their own subject matter expertise, then those events are reviewed by the team and the process repeats).

 Click to view the team's output

Click to view the team's output

Walking the Wall

Events from each dimension were then presented to the group so they could begin to identify trends such as changes in consumer behavior and expectation, emerging markets, heathcare macroeconomics, regulatory, supply chain, and competition.

 Click to view the team's output

Click to view the team's output

Trend Filtering

Not all trends are equally important. We worked with teams to develop a framework to prioritize them and weigh their impact (for example, are they a threat or opportunity as a trigger for scientific breakthrough). Teams then vote on a trend’s importance. The goal is to identify a top ten.


We split the teams into small groups and assigned them a pair of trends that we think are compelling together. The group then picked an “interesting trend” from the remaining list. With these three trends, the groups developed a scenario based on this world. Midway through the activity, we introduced a challenge to each team’s scenario in the form a threat from the list of trends. The teams presented their scenarios to the other teams.

Identifying Technology Needs

We then guided teams through the process of decomposing their scenarios into its component technologies and services. I relied heavily on my experience at Disney to help teams not only consider the technology needs, but also how to address gaps through investment in research and development, partnerships, acquisitions, etc.

Each team presented and we began to identify common technology needs across the various scenarios. We used these common needs to consider a platform that could be built to support many future innovations (avoiding one-offs).


We then guided teams through the process of organizing these technology needs in the context of their company’s functional divisions. For each technology need, we asked them what needs to happen across the organization to realize the platform. A roadmap emerged from this intensive, iterative process.


The purpose of the workshop is not only to demonstrate the value of strategic technology roadmapping, but to also deploy it as an evergreen process. The final deliverable included a tool that allowed teams to continually seek new information, update their trend projections and technology horizons, and consider the impact on future product development.