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The Goal of Law Enforcement and Alliance Management: Stay out of the Fire and the Clouds

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 11/21/2013

In his presentation “Law and Order: How Handling a Hostage Situation and Managing Alliances Have a Lot in Common,” Mike Berglund, CA-AM, director of alliance management at Eli Lilly and Company, attempted to draw some parallels to his current alliance management role and his 10-year stint in law enforcement, in which he last served as a sergeant outside of Milwaukee. They are “eerily similar,” he insisted. Conversely, people use to tell Berglund after his police career was over, “At least you’re not getting shot out.” He would often reply, “At least I knew who the bad guys were.”

Throughout the presentation, Berglund sought to discuss how alliance managers could use their vision, judgment, and influence to achieve the balance between staying out of the clouds (i.e., keeping too much distance) and the fire (i.e., being too close to keep a healthy perspective)?

Early in his presentation, Berglund used the example of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to illustrate a lack of leadership in a crisis situation. Dozens of emergency vehicles that had reached he scene to pick up the thousands of injured citizens found that they couldn't get to the hospital due to gridlocked traffic around the scene. Similarly, when a 29-year-old Berglund once stormed into a house during pursuit of a suspect in Milwaukee, family members of the homeowner started to rush the scene. Instinctively, Berglund rushed to divert the family away, and the suspect he was supposed to focus on eventually fled the scene in the chaos. The commonality to both situations: you might take the wrong actions when you’re “in the fire,” said Berglund.

Berglund went on to outline signs that an alliance management might be too close to a situation: when you are negotiating on behalf of your organization rather than the alliance—i.e., when tunnel vision prevents you from being an ombudsman. Likewise, you might be too far if you only attend governance meetings and distribute surveys, or perhaps you have little awareness of the risks and pending escalations occurring in your partnership; you might also have too much distance if the alliance has stopped delivering business value, the alliance manager is failing to understand the core issues, or stakeholders are overreacting in their responses to situations.

Berglund urged the audience to mull over four takeaways:
  • Ensure the alliance manager’s ombudsman role is understood within your organization-it is all about the asset, not the company
  • Call it like you see it-regarldess of whether your management wants to hear it
  • Communicate why it’s important to be integrated with the team and the alliance
  • Look for “grey space” opportunities to demonstrate leadership ability-getting alignment between United States and Europe activities may not fall to commercial or business development; alliance management can take control and drive this objective to fruition

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