From the cover to The Close, the Q1 2017 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine tackles the critical topics that matter in today’s increasingly complex collaborations—and serves as a call to action for partnering executives to step out of their comfort zone, sound the call for professional alliance management, and continuously build their organizations’ capability to collaborate everywhere. For example, in our regular column “The Close,” I share a recent conversation with top Cisco executive and collaboration leader Ron Ricci. While “comfort with ambiguity” is an oft-cited trait of alliance executives, I argue (with support from Ron) that there’s nothing ambiguous about your CEO recognizing that digitization demands collaboration if your company is to succeed. Get a jump start reading this issue—full text of “The Close” follows below.
“THE CLOSE: An Unambiguous Call to Action,” from Q1 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine
In Genevieve Fraser’s Q1 2017 Member Spotlight on Celgene, she and Jeremy Ahouse, CSAP, PhD, discuss how his alliance team includes “the kinds of people who can live with ambiguity and difference even as they get things done.” I’ve often heard comfort with ambiguity cited as an important trait of partnering executives. I got to thinking: Do I know any “ambiguous” alliance executives?
Most partnering professionals I know strike me as grounded, clear-as-a-bell communicators who don’t hesitate to share their point of view and who often can be very directive. I surmise that it’s precisely a lack of personal ambiguity that helps alliance execs lead amidst ambiguity. In a nutshell, it takes confidence to collaborate.
You feel that confidence within Ron Ricci, co-author of The Collaboration Imperative and a longtime Cisco senior executive focused on collaboration as an organizational capability, who joined a 90-minute conference call with ASAP’s advisory board in January. Ricci and Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP, principal of Phoenix Consulting Group, discussed the just-published ISO 44001, the International Standards Organization’s standard for “collaborative business relationship management systems.” (See in-depth coverage forthcoming in eSAM Plus, ASAP blogs, and future Strategic Alliance Magazine articles.) Ricci believes the ISO standard—which aligns to ASAP’s alliance management frameworks—will help propagate a common language for business collaboration, inside and among organizations. Ricci and the many leaders he interacts with see partnering and collaborative ability as central to grappling with the pace of a rapidly digitizing world.
“I spend all day long talking to senior executives of diverse governments and companies around the world about their collaboration opportunities,” says Ricci, vice president of customer experience services at Cisco, whom I spoke to recently. “Speed is the most important thing they need to move their businesses [according to] every leader I’ve met with over the last five years on this topic of collaboration. And companies see collaboration as the means to get speed.”
Talking to Ricci is an unambiguous look into how the C-suite views partnering and collaboration today—and the opportunity this represents for alliance management.
“Digitization and the ability to connect anything has taken the notion of speed and actually made it a potential carnivore of companies,” Ricci explains. “Take the technology trend of standardization and connect to the broader business trend of digitization—now we have a market moving almost at the pace of Moore’s Law. In 18 to 24 months the way you make money serving your customers can evolve. … So the way organizations collaborate and work together might need to be the most important capability they need to survive in the 21st century.”
This is an unmistakable call to action for all alliance professionals. It’s time to evangelize the value of this profession like never before. Recent ASAP, Vantage Partners, and other studies present unambiguous data on how professional alliance management drives success and financial performance of partnerships. As exemplified by our cover story, “The Partner-Everywhere Imperative: A Practitioner’s Guide,” and numerous sessions at ASAP conferences, the ASAP community is on the forefront of extending and adapting alliance management frameworks, practices, and tools to the new, increasingly complex collaborations that now proliferate across industries and sectors.
“How do you survive in a world where risk is growing faster than growth?” a Fortune 500 CEO recently asked Ricci. “You have to operate at an uncommon level of speed, adaptability, and flexibility,” Ricci responds. “And if there’s a better way to do that than collaboration, please tell me.”
And if there’s a better resource for collaboration success than your alliance team, the ASAP community, and the alliance management profession, please tell me.