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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process (Part Three): How Alliance Teams Build an Experience Map, Grapple with Challenges, and Iterate

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Monday, October 03, 2016
Updated: Friday, September 30, 2016

As you work through the design thinking process and apply it to your partnerships, you are building techniques to reach a decision, and you are learning to work together. With an alliance team and two core partners, you can get at an aligned recommendation or proposal. The ideal is to brainstorm and map out the most efficient way partners can get to the most effective process to come to a proposal. Then bring the partners together and arrive at a decision. Instead of “You have your way and I have mine,” ask “What is the alliance way?”

Now participants in the “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” workshop are exploring how to build an experience map. At this point in the 90-minute interactive session at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University professor Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, are leading breakout groups through the process, advising executives to:

  • Step back and focus on empathic needs using their emotional intelligence.
  • Define what the empathic needs are for the co-diagnostic partner.
  • Report back to the larger project team—scientists, governance bodies, and other stakeholders.
  • Brainstorm with the larger group in mind.
  • Accelerate the delivery process, and eliminate elements can slow the process down.
  • Separate decision making into a core group for brainstorming and a companion diagnostics partners group.
  • Question if either party has experience. If both or neither have experience, then negotiate.

It’s critically important for alliance managers to drive the process and ensure it’s actually happening. Establish a collaboration leadership team; compare the companions in a diagnostic space and find companion diagnostic partners. Define the objective of the proposal and components. Both parties should come up with a short list of partners. There should be a joint evaluation process before asking for project approval. Get feedback, and redesign the prototype loop. Bring leaders and managers together to do this. Obtain a joint alliance management agreement on a new design. Relaunch the collaboration, implement from both partners, and plan for a joint development.

  • Two groups should come together and define a shared problem or goal.
  • Identify the problems.
  • Bring back to the company collective and individual brainstorming and group feedback.
  • Finalize and propose to the steering committee.

Approach Issues with Partners—and Build Iteration into the Process


There is a skill to defining assumptions that may turn out to be true, or not true. Engage people, and roll it out to create a social charter, and stick to it. When looking at the final piece—look to iterate. You may find you didn’t get the question right, or you may discover you didn’t understand and so-and-so needed to be brought into the process. Question: Are you delivering the design experience? Make sure you find measures that define it. Prior to the proposal being presented to governance, make sure everyone has bought in.

As part of the workshop, groups were formed and asked to identify three assumptions inherent in the process they designed. Additionally, they were asked to assess the following: What is the most critical assumption you have made, and if it’s wrong, what is the impact? 

Group responses:

  • People won’t be candid or transparent or participate in individual conversations.
  • The development team is vetting the plan properly, and it was checked for joint alignment.
  • Both teams want to work jointly and collaborate. Or do they think they know best?  
  • They assume the other company has experience, but they may not have the experience or data needed.
  • In the list of shared attributes, make sure the internal list matches up. If not, it won’t pass governance.
  • You don’t need hard data numbers to prove or disprove the assumption.

Final thoughts

ID assumptions.  Use iteration. Move forward and focus on the intended outcome.  Start the intended experience, and map backwards. All stakeholders must get their needs satisfied; if not, they will stick out their foot and stop the process. Give power to partners if you wish to engage in a productive and collaborative process.

Tags:  alliance managers  alliance teams  Bentley University  biopharma  collaboration  decision making  design thinking  healthcare  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  leadership team  non-asset based alliances  partnering  partners  The Rhythm of Business 

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