This is our continued coverage of a lively discussion that took place at an ASAP session presenting two valuable alliance management studies on “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The session unveiled the landmark ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group (see Part I of this blog post). The session also included an insightful presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges” (see Part II of this blog post). The presenters then engaged in a conversation about how the two studies dovetail in economic and financial metrics and the ways they can be used to improve company performance (see Part III of this blog post).
Shawn: It goes back to the ability to build bridges. There are some families in a neighborhood that exert more effort to make community ties. The same thing is true with tools and practices—some are more helpful in building bridges between companies. We need to look at how we are assessing companies and whether we are missing a large mass of information underneath. The full picture needs to be looked at so the bridge you are building can match up to the distance. There was a small business worth billion of dollars, struggling to hit two-to-three percent growth. We looked at social capital, and a little sliver came out that seems trivial, but we employed it into a solution. That little sliver went live two months ago and resulted in 80 percent growth. Social capital might seem small, but it is clearly a force driving firms away or pulling them together.
Stuart: You need to put in mechanisms to bridge the difference.
Shawn: Sometimes the gap is too big. You need to ask: “Do we actually have the capability?” Building a plane while in the air is not the best strategy.
Stuart: Sometimes we get called in to intervene in an alliance. Someone will call and say we have lost trust. What does that mean? We don’t trust that we are well aligned, have the ability to manage that misalignment, and be able to manage that difference in a significant way. They think of trust as individual relationships.
Shawn: Social capital is not so much the existence of specific ties. It’s more the environment created for them to exist that’s definitely a spider web. There is too much emphasis put on goodwill and trust. Social capital is not these feelings or soft things or upper-level management having strong personal deals. It’s about two firms having multiple connections. It’s about the structural dimensions and the ability to interact. Last in line in social capital are the trust, respect, and goodwill.