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The devil is in the detail

Delivery drivers in Maine, USA, had every reason to delight in somebody’s excellent eye for detail in 2017. A judge found in their favour, saying they were eligible for overtime pay because a clause in Maine state overtime laws lacks a crucial comma*. The ruling could cost the drivers’ employer $10million in back pay.

It’s the work of moments to find other cautionary tales of how an overlooked comma or a misplaced hyphen can have unexpected costs.  And, as with all such tales, these ones share a moral.

More than commas

It’s not a moral about the value of good punctuation or excellent grammar. The moral of these stories it that you should always pay attention to detail.

We love these stories because detail underpins MMRG’s approach to stakeholder understanding. When we first started to research and understand stakeholders in the pharmaceuticals industry, more than 35 years ago, we realised that looking beyond the obvious was one of the most effective ways to help our clients.

Minutiae, specifics and particulars

When we talk about detail, we mean every tiny part of the therapeutic ecosystem a drug will inhabit. Our researchers investigate all the people who might have an interest in that drug. So of course, they consider all the usual suspects – prescribers, payers and patients. But their eagle-eyed research will take them down paths that might be missed by the less curious.

  • Who are the people who connect and share interests with all those prescribers, payers and patients?
  • Who do they turn to for advice and direction?
  • Who is publishing in this area – not just papers and studies but blogs, vlogs and comments?
  • Who is campaigning in this area? Who is defining and developing policy?

And that's only the beginning.

Complete, up-to-date and accurate

Our quest for the finer points of information means you can be sure that every profile in our Thecosystems app is as comprehensive as it can be. The information for every person of interest is regularly updated. You and your colleagues can add your own activity to each profile, so your team can avoid overlaps and omissions. So when you plan your stakeholder engagement, you know that every profile shows current contact details and position, latest activity in your area and all your contact with them.

Getting those details wrong may not cost you millions of dollars. But it could cost you time, damage a relationship or give a competitor room to manoeuvre – and none of that will help drive the success of your drug.

Attention to detail - guaranteed

Our focus on detail is also part of our promise of excellent service to every client. Although we always choose methodologies to suit each situation, and tailor the information we produce to the requirements we agree with you, you can be sure that every number, every paper, and yes, every comma, will be accurate.

Examine our services for yourself. Talk to Peter Joshua today about how our Thecosystems app could help add essential detail to your sales strategy.

*Here are the details of the Maine delivery drivers’ case

Maine law says the overtime pay rules don’t apply to:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

The drivers argued that because there is no comma between “packing for shipment” and “or distribution”, the law covers the single activity of “packing (for shipment and distribution)”, not “packing” and “distribution” as two separate activities. The drivers distribute perishable foods, but do not pack them. So this ruling means they are eligible for overtime pay.

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/16/oxford-comma-helps-drivers-win-dispute-about-overtime-pay

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/us/oxford-comma-lawsuit.html?_r=0

https://priceonomics.com/the-most-expensive-typo-in-legislative-history/

About the author

Fergus Higgins

Fergus sees data differently.  He leads our research analyst team, making sure that when something ‘pops up’ it’s investigated carefully and presented clearly.

Thecosystems

Connecting the facts.