ASAP presented three plenary sessions Thursday morning, Sept. 10, in an engaging new 20-minute topic overview, “ASAP Quick Takes,” designed after the “TED Talks” format as part of the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference. The second half of the morning was devoted to “Deeper Dive” sessions with more in-depth plenary presentations and peer exchanges in roundtable discussions focused on particular topics. The three talks were moderated by Jan Twombly, CSAP and president of The Rhythm of Business, Inc. Organized around the theme of “Alliance Expertise at the Forefront: Leadership for the Ecosystem,” the conference kicked off Wed., Sept. 9 at the Revere Hotel in Boston, Mass., USA.
First at the podium was Heather Fraser, global life sciences and healthcare lead at IBM’s Institute for Business Value, who discussed “Redefining Partnering in the Healthcare and Life Sciences Ecosystem.” Recent developments and findings have prompted a major shift from the traditional one-to-one partnering model to partnering within the ecosystem. The disruption has impacted not only the traditional pharma and biotech players in the healthcare and life sciences industries, but also less-traditional, sometimes surprising players, such as judicial (law enforcement and the courts), consumer electronics, and the automotive industry, among others. Technology is a major catalyst. While it has forced greater connectivity and openness, it has also resulted in greater complexity in partnering, Fraser said. The new dynamics beg the question “How do I find and connect with the right partners in new and unfamiliar industries and how do I make the connections?”
Next on the floor was Cindy Warren, vice president of alliance management at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, with her talk on “Alliance Leadership for the Healthcare Ecosystem.” Partnering used to be simple, she said as she presented a slide from the old television show “The Dating Game,” where you asked three questions, and the answers resulted in a clear choice, she said. The old model of “sharing a soda, talking, and shaking hands” to forge the deal no longer holds up in a business environment impacted by technology and greater complexity. We’re in a new era that requires a partnering approach more akin to “speed dating,” Warren explained—and if you don’t move fast enough, you might not secure the partnership. “Our leaders need to become more agile, more flexible. It’s not just about taking that agreement and executing it, but making sure partners are aligned. It’s about working with it, shaping that collaboration, not just about delivering value, but creating value,” she explained.
The final plenary session highlighted patient advocacy while exploring the industry-focused partnering activities of the Alzheimer’s Association. It takes a village to support an Alzheimer patient and his or her caregivers, as emphasized in “Supporting Patients and Families at the Center of the Ecosystem,” presented by Lenore Jackson-Pope, BSN, MSM, CCRP, manager of medical and research education for the association’s Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter. The number of Alzheimer’s patients has increased astronomically in the past 15 years, and “the country will be bankrupted if we don’t find solution,” she warned. Through its partnering and advocacy, this patient advocacy organization aims to rapidly address the 3 C’s of the disease—care, cure, and cause—during a time when financial support from the National Institutes of Health is marginal compared to its financial support for cancer, HIV, and other serious diseases. Consequently, the Alzheimer’s Association—which Jackson-Pope described as the world’s largest nonprofit funder of research—has created an extensive network of supporters and partnerships to address the problem.
Diving Deeper: What Does It Take to Be an ‘Ecosystem Warrior’?
While fundamentals (such as anticipating and managing risk) often remain important, the role of alliance management changes considerably in the ecosystem, IBM’s Fraser emphasized in her “Deeper Dive” follow-on session.
“Thinking back to your roles, the ability to partner beyond current borders requires understanding of new and emerging industries, different regulatory environments, speed to market, and the continuum of health, wellness, and care,” she explained. “You also have to have the stamina to stand up, be counted, and explain why different ideas may work for creating value for your organization moving forward.”
This type thinking (and stamina) are required of what she called “successful ecosystem warriors.” Key capabilities including “having that ability to act with speed, but at different speeds in different industries and ecosystems, really being the hunter that goes out and looks at those new and different networks, being the person that’s prepared to be disruptive, and understanding what role your organization needs to take in that ecosystem.”
Fraser left the audience with several key questions to consider:
- What role does your organization plan to play in the ecosystem?
- Do you have the skills and capabilities to work in that converged ecosystem?Can you address the cultural aspect—“really getting under the skin of the culture of players you’re going to work with”?