The Edges of Lean — Ep 123 You Can’t Do Lean Here: Pharma Marketing Edition with Tirrell Payton

Here at the edges of Lean, I love to talk with people who have taken Lean thinking into spaces far from the shop floor.  Tirrell Payton is a lean thinker bringing lean to pharmaceutical marketing – a highly regulated, people-focused business area and one of the places where people are very likely to say, “You can’t do lean here!”.  He joined me at the Edges of Lean to discuss why and how he does it. 

 Tirrell Payton

Tirrell Payton is a dynamic and compelling individual who brings energy and storytelling to any platform. As the leader of Nooma Group Consulting, Tirrell combines southern charm with strategic expertise honed at Kellogg. With a deep understanding of the realities and constraints of business and drug development, Tirrell and his team drive impactful transformation through innovation in large organizations. Tirrell specializes in bringing a fresh perspective to complex topics such as agility and transformation, organizational development, leadership and change management, management consulting, pharma (clinical operations, marketing), and entrepreneurship.



00:00:32 Bringing lean thinking to pharmaceutical marketing

00:03:49 Challenges of applying agile in regulated industries

00:08:04 Insights into the tendencies of the pharma industry

00:10:13 The challenges of not considering humans in decision-making

00:11:53 Shifting from software to the pharma industry

00:15:01 The importance of understanding regulations

00:23:12 Challenges in pharmaceutical marketing

00:28:09 Bringing people together post-pandemic

00:33:06 Lack of focus on outcomes versus activities

00:37:34 Applying scientific thinking across the company

00:43:28 Attributes of successful leaders



  • The pandemic has disrupted collaboration and created social isolation, making it harder for teams to prioritize and work effectively. 
  • Building a sense of community and belonging within the organization is crucial for productivity and performance. 
  • Many marketers focus on activities and outputs rather than driving outcomes and impacts. 
  • Defining and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for outcomes can be a struggle in marketing. 
  • Leaders in the pharma industry need to model the behavior they want to see, demonstrate empathy, and invite people to the journey. 
  • Software alone is insufficient to solve organizational problems. Cultural systems and disciplined processes are necessary. 
  • Young professionals should prioritize developing strong writing skills and empathy, as these qualities can set them apart and enhance their thinking and communication abilities. 


Memorable Quotes From Tirrell Payton 


“Learn to write. Learning to write forces you to clarify your thinking, and it makes you a better thinker.”

CONNECT WITH  Tirrell Payton