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How Merck and Pfizer Build Alignment and Navigate Complexity: A Transformative Alliance on a Journey of Oncological Discovery

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, September 21, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

There were some cultural differences to overcome when in 2014 pharmaceutical company Pfizer joined forces with biopharma company Merck, selling its sharing rights to develop an experimental immunotherapy drug to accelerate progress against some of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. The alliance paired an American behemoth, Pfizer, founded in 1849 in Brooklyn, New York, with Merck, a German-based multinational corporation, founded in 1668 (no typo).

 

 To drive alignment in their complex partnership, Pfizer and Merck utilize a “divide-and-conquer” approach, as explained by two of the companies’ alliance leaders during a session at the March 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Discussing their experiences “Navigating and Effectively Managing Complex Alliances between Large Biotech/Pharma Organizations,” Judy Baselice, Pfizer’s director alliance management, and Brian N. Stewart, CA-AM, director alliance management at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, described how the Merck-Pfizer partnership uses five main tools for keeping the alliance on the same page.

  • Divide and conquer – Six alliance managers with divide and conquer responsibilities with different alliance committees, working groups, and other activities.
  • Distribute monthly dashboards – Capture everything from development and commercial activities to changes in manufacturing, medical affairs, and a snapshot of competitors; distributed to everyone from senior leadership to project management, so everyone knows what’s going on.
  • Invest in coordination and jointly chair meetings – What are the issues and activities and what’s coming up next? Discuss what was agreed to coming out of the gate.
  • Use available technologies – Exchange information from a review of clinical development to the use of federated calendars (meaning you type in a name and availability shows up).
  • Refer to guidance included in the contract – these are your guidelines for final decisions.

The matrix of what the alliance looks like includes co-administrated studies, co-promotion and co-commercialization agreements, a dedicated alliance management team, reports and global marketing with the alliance general manager, as well as target goals for external partnering. Management tools include a SharePoint site, calendars with a pull-out archive section, and regional groups, all of which added to the complexity of the alliance. Of course, what they needed when they launched was to recruit patients, to get the study readouts, and to receive notifications when there were significant changes.

 

External alliances that were outside of the core alliance involved collaboration agreements. Each involved incremental complexity—three- to four-way agreements, extended research and collaboration agreements within the compound, as well as assets that the teams did due diligence on. There were also alliance and third-party signed agreements to move forward, along with standalone agreements not part of other overall agreements.

 

“These separate agreements add additional layers of complexity with each deal we do,” Baselice stated. “Not every one of these partnerships will look alike. We also declined opportunities and had to determine which molecules were not ready based on a need for additional data.”

 

“We co-funded funded fifty percent of each trial as well as each organization’s legal team review of IP clauses. It can take six to 12 months per project,” Stewart added. “Also, we needed to educate both companies on what to do and what’s at risk which involved the future of our alliance in some respects. Effectively managing the alliance matrix is a matter of life or death for some.”

 

“The important thing is to keep everyone updated,” Baselice said. “It was important to be consistent and to avoid confusion. We needed teams to feel there was no need to horde data. We stressed openness and transparency. We have nothing to hide and the goal is to move it forward, share info and foster the attitude that everyone is there for the project. Of course, there are some things Pfizer can do that Merck can’t and vice versa. For example, Merck can go into countries Pfizer can’t, like Iran.”

 

Read more about the Merck-Pfizer partnership and insights into how the two companies’ partnering leaders manage their complex alliance in the August 2018 issue of eSAM Plus.  

Tags:  agreements  alliance  Brian N. Stewart  co-commercialization agreements  collaboration agreements  Complex Alliances  dashboards  due dillegence  External alliances  Judy Baselice  Large Biotech/Pharma Organizations  Merck KGaA  Pfizer  third-party signed agreements 

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Q2 2018 Strategic Alliance Magazine: The Culture of Jazz (Pharmaceuticals); a Massive Dutch Cross-agency Alliance; Award-winners—Past and Present; Three ASAP Fall Events

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

When the culture of a company really sings, it’s worth exploring the unifying elements. That’s what John W. DeWitt, ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance Magazine Editor and Publisher, explored in the Q2 2018 issue’s cover story, “Choose Culture First: How to Build a Collaborative Enterprise from the Ground Up—and Treat Every Partner Well.” DeWitt probes the underpinnings of Jazz Pharmaceutical in an interview with Cofounder and CEO Bruce Cozadd, and the company’s head of alliance management, Ann Kilrain. Culture, collaboration, and consistent partnering behaviors are integral to Jazz’s success, which is focused on sleep hematology/oncology solutions. “People judge you all the time, and what’s important is how you behave all the time,” says Kilrain during a captivating discussion that emphasizes how consistency and integrity are interwoven into the company culture. Also in this issue’s Up Front, “The Sound of Success,” President and CEO of ASAP, Michael Leonetti, reiterates that point with The Four Cs of Alliance Leadership: Communication, Culture, Collaboration, Compromise. In collaborative leadership, “leaders model their organization’s values and … can impact the culture of an organization,” he writes.  

A second cover story focuses on managing the collaboration of three big government agencies in The Netherlands. In “How an Alliance Matured from Chaos into Award-winning Order,” Diantha Croese, alliance manager at the Dutch Alliances on Data, and Menno Aardewijn, business consultant at the Dutch National SSA, discuss how they tamed a giant, unwieldy cross-agency collaboration between the Dutch IRA, Social Security Administration, and Statistics Netherlands. The management required incredible perseverance as well as “disruption, adap­tation, and overcoming sizable resistance,” and an intricate framework to establish cooperation and financial order between the agencies. Assigned the task of coordi­nating the collection of data about tax revenues, wages, benefits, and corresponding data for the Dutch gov­ernment, they streamlined financial data for the Dutch society while lowering administra­tive costs for employers and operating costs for the alliance partners.

Two other articles in this issue probe the question of what constitutes ASAP award-winning alliance behaviors. First is an article about the 2018 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards, where seven companies won the four ASAP awards for remarkable accomplishments and exemplary conduct. The second article zeros in on the winner of the 2018 ASAP Alliance for Corporate Responsibility Award, which was presented this year to Cisco and Dimension Data for their celebration of 25 years of partnering with 25 altruistic service projects. The article highlights company employees and their voluntary contributions around the world, which range from education opportunities for girls in Sudan to community bicycles for school children in Thailand.

The Member Spotlight also focuses on the 2018 Individual Alliance Excellence Award winner Julphar in  “Breaking Boundaries in the Pharmaceutical Industry.” Along with pharmaceutical partner MSD, Julphar strategized to make a major difference in seven therapeutic areas for six countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Julphar’s strategic alliance team consists of in­dividuals from diverse backgrounds whose combined skillsets and experience are viewed as critical to helping the company develop and sustain strong strategic alliances in a different area of the world to create the unique DUNES alliance.

Looking back, this issue also provides a roundup of the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in “The In-Demand, On-Demand World of Alliance Management, as Portrayed by the 2018 Summit Speakers.” The article captures the essential points of the keynote address and four plenary talks. Looking forward, “Circumnavigate the Globe this Fall With ASAP Conference Offerings” provides a synopsis of ASAP offerings this fall with a review of seminal topics for the three events: The BioPharma Conference, Tech Partner Forum, and European Alliance Summit.

For some hard-hitting findings, turn to Eli Lilly and Company’s Editorial Supplement “Common Value Inflection Points in Pharmaceutical Alliances.” Finding and understanding key inflection points can reveal a lot about your alliance and help alliance managers make good decisions, the article purports. It then does a deep dive into the topic with corroborating data and methodologies.

Finally, The Close relates a personal story about a former World War II Marine’s experience working at the Ford Motor Company in the 1950s during a time of great transition and innovation. “A Lesson From the Whiz Kids: Change and Teams‘An Inevitable Combination’” points out how teams have played an integral role in every major change throughout history. Whether political upheaval or disruption in business, it takes a combination of inspired leadership, engaged executives, collaboration, and a culture of teamwork to bring about a seismic shift. 

Tags:  2018 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  Ann Kilrain  ASAP BioPharma Conference  ASAP European Alliance Summit  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Bruce Cozadd  Collaborative Enterprise  Culture First  Eli Lilly and Company  inflection points  Jazz Pharmaceutical  Julphar  MSD  Partnering Well  Strategic Alliance Magazine 

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Ready to Externalize? Start internally.

Posted By Stuart Kliman and Electra Hui, Vantage Partners (ASAP EPP), Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

In the past, most companies assumed that the way to create value and, indeed, to win in the marketplace was to have the singular best internal capabilities—from research to innovation to development to manufacturing and beyond. Today, more and more companies know that the best way to bring greater value to customers is by finding, accessing, and taking advantage of innovation wherever it exists—which is, of course, frequently outside the company. They know, in other words, that the key to winning is to “externalize”.

But while the will to externalize is there, and many firms have taken various efforts to do it, most still haven’t truly captured the promise of externalizing. Why? Because while they espouse externalizing as a goal, they haven’t fully embedded the notion of externalization into their internal processes and behaviors. They’re stuck in an outsourcing mindset (at best), focused on ensuring that their internal efforts are as strong as possible and looking to partner only when they believe they have gaps or, perhaps, that there is some unique external capability that they need to leverage. External partners are viewed as a means of fulfilling a specific, targeted function or technology instead of fundamental elements of the company’s strategy.

To successfully capture the value promised by externalization, you need to change the way you think and the way you operate. That means shifting the foundations of the organization from an assumption that you need to win through your own expertise to an assumption that you will win through world-class partnering, broadly defined.

Organizational and Behavioral Drivers for Successful Externalization.
Once you’ve made the mindset shift to winning through partnering, the next step is to embed that mindset into every aspect of the organization—from culture to organizational structure to incentives to processes and tools to skills and behaviors. Otherwise, you’ll have only limited success. Below are just a few of the things organizations need to do to externalize successfully.

  1. Create and communicate a clear and coherent external relationship strategy, so potential partners bring their best opportunities to you. It’s important to proactively, externally communicate the extent and seriousness of your new model and the porousness of your boundaries.
  2. Build the operational interfaces for drawing on external resources. When partnership is baked into operations, companies can move rapidly into new initiatives and markets with a broader set of strategic objectives. This often requires adopting a project mindset, in which internal and external capabilities can be tapped quickly and seamlessly for any given effort, without regard to employment status. It also requires building budgets that account for variable external costs.
  3. Be open to creative, “win-win” partnering structures that get the company access to the best opportunities. Companies must be comfortable with creating fit-for-purpose relationship structures that allow for maximum and fair value creation based on the unique needs of each partner.
  4. Ensure partners feel respected and would want to work with you in the future. When companies move slowly on decisions, de-prioritize partner meetings, or undervalue partner contributions or expertise, those partners aren’t likely to bring their best. When partners feel respected, on the other hand, relationships flourish, and companies are viewed as partners of choice.
  5. Train people on how to manage and engage in external relationships successfully. To make partnerships work, people within your organization need to have solid collaboration, influence, and negotiation skills. Managers must be deft at creating and supporting just-in-time teams that can both leverage and deal with difference.
  6. Address issues with partners in a transparent and collaborative manner. Proactive identification, management, and accommodation of difference—between company and partner strategies, goals, culture, risk tolerance, etc.—has to be part of the organizational DNA.  Both parties need to be committed to experimenting together, working iteratively, and periodically reflecting on what is and isn’t working.

Successful externalization doesn’t happen on its own. Leaders need to explicitly define the change in their organization’s strategic assumptions, articulate the implications for the way people will work and how the organizational model will shift, and—most important—purposefully and methodically move the organization to the new, externalized model. Otherwise, externalization will remain nothing more than a nice idea at best, a failure at worst. 

Tags:  Electra Hui  Externalization  operational interfaces  Organizational and Behavioral Drivers  Partnering structure  partners  strategic  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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The Value of the Alliance Watchdog—Flagging and Wrestling with ‘Wicked Problems’

Posted By Geena B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

“Wicked problems”—those stubborn, persnickety alliance challenges that defy easy answers—are sometimes difficult to pinpoint, discuss, and address in partnerships. Which is why Jeremy Ahouse, CSAP, vice president of alliances at Merus Pharmaceuticals, selected the topic to address head-on in his upcoming session “Grappling with Wicked Problems in Alliance Management” at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. The September 24-26 conference will be held for a second year at the Hyatt Regency Boston—conveniently located in the back bay near several esteemed academic and research institutions.

Never one to avoid a grueling topic, Ahouse developed his session after interviewing several senior alliance members about the hardest parts of alliances. Some of the seemingly intractable challenges were downright wicked, he concluded. Hence, his session on helping alliance managers learn how to confront and wrestle with the tough stuff.

“Wicked problems” can be particularly corrosive to meeting dynamics and challenging to contract clauses and/or shifting priorities. Ahouse pulls heavily from renowned public leadership guru Ron Heifetz for ideas on how to deal with such issue. There are three types of problems, he says. “In Type 1 problems, you agree on the problem definition and potential solutions. Project managers can often successfully address these,” he states. “In Type 2, we agree on our understanding of the problem but are still working on the solutions. In Type 3, we don’t even agree on what the problem is.”

An alliance manager must determine which type of problem they are facing to address it. Sometimes this process requires deep thinking and analysis because the problems are difficult to recognize and complex, which makes them so “wicked.” But there can be great value in wrestling with complexity, he purports. They may be tough to identify, but resolving problems is vital to partnerships. “Alliance managers are uniquely positioned to see problems that come out of interactions between companies and functions,” Ahouse points out. “This puts us in a position to notice early and alert our teams.”

This watchdog role is important to keep the collaboration running smoothly and most efficiently. There is no magic potion to addressing these issues, he quickly points out. “I don’t have simple answers to these problems.”

But discussing them makes them less “wicked,” he adds. And there are good, better, and best ways to communicate when a “wicked problem” surfaces.

Ahouse plans to focus on the challenges rather than success stories associated with these kinds of alliance problems. This way, the audience can have first-hand experience wrestling with real-life, hard problems that might get ignored in an alliance management situation.

The goal for the session is to create “an opportunity to start talking about [problems] and get ASAP members wrestling with them in a public forum,” he concludes. He plans “to stay away from simplistic answers” and encourage ASAP participants to think deeply about topics that need confrontation but many shy away from because of their complexity.

For more about Ahouse’s session, check out “'No Whitewash': Going Beyond 'Simplistic Answers' to the Toughest Alliance Management Challenges” in the July 2018 issue of eSAM Plus.

Tags:  alliance challenges  Alliance Management.#ASAP BioPharma  alliance manager  Jeremy Ahouse  Merus Pharmaceuticals  partnerships  Ron Heifetz 

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Fascinating Mix of Case Studies Woven Into ASAP Conference Programming This Fall

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, September 17, 2018

Trio of conferences this September, October, November will include plenty of practical sessions with real-life examples of partnering success stories

The next issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine will include a fascinating case study on the Dutch Alliance for Data and Tax on Wages and Benefits, a complex alliance between the Dutch IRS, National Social Security Administration, and Statistics Netherland. The two alliance managers in the article will also provide details on how they formed, managed, and problem-solved the complex collaboration in a session at the upcoming 2018 ASAP European Alliance Summit: “Owning Your Ecosystem & Building the Future,” in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Nov. 8-9 (location to be announced).  

Case studies are a powerful way to make a point, demonstrate useful tools and techniques, and highlight the best practices used to solve alliance challenges. There’s nothing quite as impressionable as a real-life alliance success story packed with examples of problem solving, effective frameworks, and cutting-edge techniques. In fact, the European Summit will kick off with a “Case Study of a Large-Scale Bi-Lateral Strategic Alliance,” presented by Christophe Pinard, director of global strategic alliance at Schneider Electric and Jean Noel Enckle from emerging solution ecosystem development at Cisco. The two speakers plan to provide their reflections and case perspectives on the dynamic, progressive alliance between the two companies. 

Their talk will set the stage for a summit where as many as 30 case studies will be tucked into sessions spanning a wide range of cross-industry topics, including

The Internet of Things (IoT), telecom, financial services, pharma/life sciences, digital ecosystems, telecom, energy, fintech, consumer goods, and other areas of interest. Presenters will include the heads of alliance divisions, CEOs, and other professionals.

A similar trend is afoot at the upcoming 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference: “Creating Valuable and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” at the Hyatt Regency Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, Sept. 24-26.  Case studies are a great tool for teaching, and they will be central to the session “Let’s Make a Deal: Driving Better Contracts to Win in Clinical Genomics,” presented by Katherine Ellison, CA-AM, associate director of alliances at clinical genomics leader Illumina, Inc. Attendees will be asked to consider several of Illumina’s case studies and then delve into key areas where the alliance teams worked collaboratively with business development throughout the deal negotiation process.

Participants are asked to prepare for the session and bring their own case studies to share and discuss with peers on relevant topics, such as:

  • Methods to transform working relationships
  • Shared process models and governance structures to facilitate collaboration
  • Fit-for-purpose tools that drive internal and external information sharing
  • The merits of centralized and decentralized alliance and business development models

If you’re more interested in customer case studies on the tech side, join some of the biggest tech movers and shakers for one day, October 17, at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum: “Owning Your Ecosystem & Building the Future,” at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California. Keynote speakers Mitch Mayne and Wendi Whitmore of IBM, plans to weave some relevant alliance experience into his talk “Cyber Security Ecosystem Meets the Customer Experience,” and there will be plenty of concrete case study examples from Scott Van Valkenburgh, CSAP, vice president, global alliances leader at Genpact in his talk “Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Partnering Considerations.” Genpact has implements several successful RPA projects with Genpact’s RPA partnering strategy, and Van Valkenburgh plans to share lessons as well as customer case studies as he discusses Genpact’s launch and early RPA strategy.  

Learn more about these and other case studies, review additional sessions and content, and sign up for early bird discounts at the following links:

BioPharma Conference: http://www.asapbiopharma.org/sessions.php

Tech Partner Forum: http://www.asaptechforum.org/index.php

European Alliance Summit: https://www.asapeusummit.org/

Tags:  alliances  ASAP BioPharma Conference  ASAP European Alliance Summit  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  case studies  Christophe Pinard  Cisco  Clinical Genomics  Cyber Security  ecosystem  Genpact  governance  IBM  Illumina  IoT  Jean Noel Enckle  partnering  partnerships  RPA projects  Schnieder Electric  strategy 

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