Directly following the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards ceremony at the 2015 Global Alliance Summit at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, USA, Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, held an insightful question and answer session with executives representing each of the award recipients. The session uncovered insights into the hurdles award winners jumped to reach the highest mark.
The Individual Alliance Excellence Award is given to a company that has excelled in planning, implementation, and results for a single alliance. The alliance may be between two companies or multiple organizations in the category of small-to-midsize company alliance and/or emerging alliance. Utilities aren’t known for partnering, but National Grid broke away from the pack, procuring and donating 55 weather stations to schools and first responder sites in a partnership with Earth Network’s weather monitoring equipment distributor WeatherBug. The project provides free, accessible, local weather information to communities while improving storm response and power restoration, which saves local businesses and customers millions of dollars.
“Our alliance delivered twice, first for National Grid to better understand where damage will occur. Second, with community engagement and stewardship,” Eliza Davis, lead program manager, alliance and vendor strategy at National Grid, pointed out during the Q&A. “We also allowed a new priority to evolve due to customer need and response” with the unique use of weather monitoring equipment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education programs.
The Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award is for partnerships that make a profound, measurable, and positive social impact. The principal objective of the alliance is social impact, not profit—although profit, especially if used to fund program expansion, is not discouraged. The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy received the award for a partnership that factors the value of nature into business decisions—a crucial step forward in fostering sustainability. The project “moved us beyond basic philanthropy,” observed Elizabeth Uhlhorn, sustainability program manager at Dow. It created an environmental protection framework with a methodology for identifying and measuring (or valuing) tangible benefits of ecosystem services to integrate into corporate decision-making processes. The unusual alliance resulted in a viable plan for significant change in corporate practice that can be a sustainable model for other corporations.
The Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award is presented to a company using new, individual alliance management tools or processes that have an immediate and powerful impact on the organization and/or discipline of alliance management. These tools or processes are not comprehensive alliance programs but additions to existing alliance practice that address specific elements of alliance management such as measurement, training, conflict resolution, general communication across-the-partner ecosystem, or similar facets of the discipline. Philips won the award for its efforts to fine-tune the best structure to “help people get aligned and marching in the same direction,” explained Cees Bijl, vice president at Philips. Philips used an innovative two-step approach to create a joint brand identity for an alliance. It involved designing a framework and methodology that defines the most appropriate co-branding to prevent conflict, enhance effective communication between partners, and support an equal and well-grounded relationship. This is the second ASAP award for Philips, which is “confirmation that the direction we are going in is a good one,” he added.
Janssen—Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson received honorable mention for its globally accessible alliance scorecard and assessment tool, which can be used by one or multiple alliances to capture key strategic, operational, financial, and relationship metrics in a single assessment program, allowing participants to monitor progress individually or across the portfolio.
The Alliance Program Excellence Award is given to organizations that exceed expectations by consistently implementing and managing alliance portfolios and demonstrating consistent success of those alliances over time. Winners build programs on creativity, efficiency, an integrated suite of processes, tools, professional development/alliance professional certification, and other elements. Takeda Pharmaceuticals received the award for the creation of its progressive Center of Excellence (COE) to reach more broadly across functions and geographies, including emerging markets in China, South Korea, and Russia. Members can now extensively share best practices and tools for training, management, research, enhanced communication, and an on-line portal.
“We had a rock star kind of a team. They literally spent 50 percent of their time for many years” working on this project, said Andy Hull, vice president, global alliances, at Takeda.
Bayer HealthCare received honorable mention for its significant investment into an Alliance Capability Enhancement Project to drive a partnering mindset and alliance best practices deep into the organization.