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Think You Are More Collaborative than Kindergartners? Take the Marshmallow Challenge and Find Out

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/12/2014

What’s your collaborative marshmallow—the seemingly simple but actually complex challenge of collaborating very quickly, with a limited set of resources, to build something together? On Monday afternoon, nearly 30 alliance executives at the 2014 ASAP Global Alliance Summit bravely took "The Marshmallow Challenge: A Competition about Collaboration." The tools of this very hands-on preconference workshop? Twenty sticks of spaghetti, a yard of string, a yard of tape, scissors—and a marshmallow.

Monday's challenge was led by Jeff Shuman, CSAP and principal of The Rhythm of Business, who has conducted this workshop more than 30 times with alliance teams around the world. These teams find the challenge a useful tool to kick off partner meetings. Participants break into teams of four, then work together to assemble the spaghetti into a structure that can support a marshmallow on top. The tallest structure (that doesn’t collapse under the weight of the marshmallow) is the winner. It’s surprisingly hard to do—on Monday, the winning team built a four-legged, 18-inch-high tripod structure, beating out several other structures of 12 to 15 inches in height. My team's structure was taller--for about three seconds before it collapsed.

Afterwards, workshop participants watched a TED Talks video describing the challenge. Turns out that there’s a wide disparity in the performance of different types of participants. CEOs, for instance, are not typically successful—unless executive assistants join their teams. Recently graduated MBAs perform very poorly. The best collaborators though? Five-year-old children (Shuman has tried it out with his grandchildren) turn out to be very effective collaborative engineers—and consistently build structures far taller than most alliance managers.

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Alliance Management Meets the Millennials: "Bridging the Communications Gap Goes Both Ways"

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/11/2014

“It's like being at the museum,” she whispers to her colleague (maybe more loudly than she realizes).

“She” is an attractive, fit, 40-something sitting at a front table in a packed conference room today at the opening morning of ASAP's 2014 Global Alliance Summit in Scottsdale. She is referring to the commentary involving the four (yes, count them on one hand—four) alliance professionals in the audience who are part of the generation known as “millennials.” The audience is fully engaged in the panel discussion entitled, “The Next Generation: How Millennials are Changing Business.” Yet as this woman at the front table so aptly elucidates, engagement does not equal understanding.

My attention turns to Adrian, a millennial who works at Chevron, as he stands and takes the mic to respond to the panelists. “I think this explains why some of my relationships with managers have worked, and others have not," he says with a smile. “We're looking for a lot of integration and we see a lot of silos. I think a lot of industries are changing that way. The other thing is transparency. People [in older generations] want to keep their information to themselves, but that's changing.”

Another millennial stands and shares, “I've never fit in with corporations, and now I know why.” The young woman encourages everyone in the audience to ask questions of millennials, rather than assuming they have all the answers because they're older and more experienced.

Now perhaps the youngest person in the audience, an alliance executive from Thomson Reuters, joins us. He advises the group to coach non-millennials. "Bridging that communication gap goes both ways."

After hearing from the millennials in the audience, our moderator, Jeff Cummings, returns to the panelists, and then to the audience for additional questions. The discussion is just beginning, but we have run out of time.

Alliance management—a field dominated by seasoned Gen X and Baby Boomer executives—is starting to seriously grapple with the challenge, and opportunity, of bringing a new and very differently thinking generation into the profession. Look for our continued coverage of this topic in future issues of Strategic Alliance Magazine.

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What’s Your Next Step? Summit Keynoter Lisa Caswell of Siemens e-Meter Shares Her Journey from Alliance Manager to President

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/11/2014

If you ever thought that alliance management was an uncertain career path, Lisa Caswell begs to differ. An entrepreneurial business executive who has spent 30 years in alliance management across numerous corporate roles, Caswell kicked off the ASAP Global Alliance Summit with a clear message: the competencies that made her a successful alliance manager are the same competencies that make her effective in a wide variety of corporate leadership roles—including as a division president at Siemens e-Meter.

In Caswell’s view, to be a leader in the connected era requires the ability to partner and collaborate. “We are the collaboration masters as alliance managers,” she said. As a division president, her framework for leadership continually builds connectedness—“using partnering to engage customers as individuals, to empower your employees, and to amplify innovation.” Partnering ability, for instance, has allowed Siemens e-Meter to set a higher bar than Siemens' company-wide benchmarking of employee engagement. “You can buy employee engagement, but you have to motivate, create, and cultivate employee excellence,” she said. “It’s all about partnership and enabling.”

She talked extensively about the leverage that partnering capability has given her in her career—in particular, as a Silicon Valley veteran, how partnering has been essential to “driving innovation around not only technology, but also around business models.” Moreover, as an alliance executive in smaller, entrepreneurial organizations, Caswell has repeatedly leveraged partnering with IBM and other industry Goliaths to “build far more credibility than we could have through marketing ourselves.” Caswell recommended several keys to success for alliance managers and leadership in general:
  • "Always carry a number. Alliance managers often don’t want to be accountable to a number—but it guarantees you a seat at the table."
  • “You need one single owner of strategic relationships—not 10.”
  • Embrace risk. She cited the example of creating an appliance for the utilities marketplace in conjunction with IBM. “We got tremendous marketing support from IBM—but it ended up being a flop. However, IBM wasn’t angry, we weren’t angry, because we tried—we took a risk as part of establishing the meter data management marketplace.”
  • “Coopetition is great. It forces us as a company to stay on our toes.”
Caswell’s challenge to the approximately 300 attendees in the opening plenary was: ask yourself what’s next—and don’t be afraid to think big. “If you do so, you will do something extraordinary.”

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Elevating the Practice of Alliance Management in Healthcare: Astellas Upgrades to Global Member

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/6/2014

Leading pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc. has upgraded to Global Member. Astellas, a long-time corporate member of ASAP, intends to use this upgrade to elevate its practice of alliance management, particularly within the healthcare industry.

“Strategic partnerships are critical in enabling Astellas to meet the unmet medical needs of patients around the world, through innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products,” said Chihiro Yokota, global head of business development and licensing & alliances for Astellas. “This move strengthens our ability to collaborate effectively and helps Astellas maximize the value of our partnerships.”

Astellas, located in Tokyo, is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world by providing innovative pharmaceuticals. (For more information on Astellas Pharma Inc., go to its website). Astellas has been a long-time contributor and influential presence within the ASAP community. For example, Percival Barretto-Ko, Astellas' senior vice president of corporate strategy and government affairs, was keynote presenter at the 2012 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

“Partnerships are essential to the future of the biopharmaceutical industry,” said Michael Leonetti, president and CEO of ASAP, “and Astellas’ increased commitment to ASAP helps this association support the ever-expanding wave of partnership and collaboration that is sweeping across life sciences and healthcare -- as well as virtually every other industry and sector. Astellas and other leading alliance management practitioners turn to ASAP for the learning, community, and tools they need. We’re proud to play an important role in helping Astellas maximize the value and performance of its strategic partnerships.”

To read the full press release on Astellas’ upgrade to global member, officially announced today, visit PRWeb.

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ASAP Welcomes Covance as New Global Member

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 1/6/2014

The press release officially announcing Covance's upgrade to ASAP Global Membership has crossed the wire. A leading contract research organization (CRO), Covance’s elevation to Global Member status reflects the company’s deep commitment to close collaborations with its customers, which range from large, global pharmaceutical companies and well-established biotechs to smaller, emerging biopharmaceutical organizations.

Access the full press release now to learn about the great advantages Covance will gain as an ASAP Global Member.

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