Skip to main content

Take our TMF Risk Score Survey today!

Stakeholder Collaboration Returns to the Stage at DIA 2019

By Christine Morris, Executive Director, TransPerfect Life Sciences Solutions

Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 12:33 PM

Stakeholder Collaboration Returns to the Stage at DIA 2019

You’re a stakeholder! I’m a stakeholder! We’re all stakeholders! In clinical research, there is a broad and diverse pool of individuals who are all working toward the same goals—quality, timely, and compliant research, and, most importantly, successful patient outcomes.

 A Tufts study has estimated the average cost of development and marketing approval for a new drug is around $2.55 billion. Factors increasing expenses include “increased clinical trial complexity, larger clinical trial sizes, higher cost of inputs from the medical sector used for development, greater focus on targeting chronic and degenerative diseases, changes in protocol design to encompass the collection of health technology assessment information, and testing on comparator drugs to accommodate payer demands for comparative effectiveness data.” In other words, the path to our shared goal is more of a winding road than a straight one, with challenges to communication and collaboration throughout.

Last year, I had the honor of chairing my first DIA Workshop, in conjunction with my colleagues from the Cary Playwrights’ Forum, where I sit on the board of directors. Inspired by my interactions with this collaborative community, it dawned on me that our personal endeavors may be useful in examining collaboration in a different context—improving clinical research stakeholder collaboration.

While terrifying to prepare for, it was so very rewarding. This specific topic is a common source of dialogue among clinical peers, and it was thrilling to observe worlds collide as our readers brought collaboration stories to life and participated in a new way to engage familiar challenges. We had some amazing “actors” (attendee volunteers) perform original scripts via stage readings, and we taught our DIA attendee audience how to build and use an empathy map. The combination helped immerse them in the experiences and feelings of story protagonists and antagonists and provided new tools to bring back to both their work and personal lives. My motto is: Do one thing each day that scares you. Our readers and our audience readily accepted the challenge as my own nerves settled watching this experiment unfold on a live stage (literally).

Using our 2018 session as a foundation for this year, we’ve added more opportunities for collaboration and created a brand new script focused on planning a meeting. It sounds innocuous enough, but this is where many stakeholder conflicts or misunderstandings begin. We often enter into collaborative endeavors feeling very much on the same page…until we’re not. Each stakeholder represents their own specific expertise, packed with all the nuance and granular knowledge that comes with it. While stakeholders remain aligned on the broader goals of clinical research, the fine details of execution bring in a multitude of role-specific expectations and perspectives. In other words, we all care about the same big picture, but our respective day-to-day, on-the-ground concerns are colored by the focus of our work. Acknowledging and managing the reality of role-specific perspectives is where empathy, and the tool of empathy mapping, can ensure healthy collaboration is not elusive.

This year, we are framing the workshop with a “before and after” empathy-mapping scenario, showing the real impact of seeking to understand our own personal antagonists. Throughout the workshop, we showcase original scripts from NC playwrights and will share the stage with volunteer performers from the audience. In between scenes, participants will break into groups and build empathy maps for selected characters and then discuss with the entire group. In the end, all involved will have new ways of understanding and communicating with their peers to cultivate genuine empathy-driven collaboration vs. the all-too-common cooperation by obligation.

I am proud to share the stage with my co-presenters and colleagues. Will you come share the stage with us?

Casting Call

Christine Morris, Executive Director, TransPerfect Life Sciences Solutions, will be holding auditions for her upcoming DIA Workshop "Setting the Stage for Effective Stakeholder Collaboration." The performance will be on Wednesday, June 26, from 4:15 PM to 5:30 PM at the San Diego Convention Center. We have 3–4 short scenes, and a variety of roles and participation opportunities are available. Hopeful casts of all ages are encouraged to attend.

The performances will consist of staged readings of the plays, and scripts will be provided. All attendees will collaboratively build empathy maps for the play's protagonists/antagonists and be provided with real tools to bring back to their personal and professional lives. Memorization and staging will not be required for the performance.

Questions? Please contact Christine Morris at

Back to Blog