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Update Your Communications File Cabinet with Good Dialogue and Trustworthy Practices

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, August 18, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Is it possible to not communicate? That was a question Minna J. Holopainen of InFlux Communications, LLC, posed to a rapt audience at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise” held in San Diego, California, last March. “You are communicating even if someone calls, and you decide to not pick up the phone. We are all at the same time engaging in communication practices. We swim in streams of communication practices all drawn from a pool of meanings developed over a lifetime,” she explained in her practical session “Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for Building Collaboration in Alliance Partnerships.”

“Think back as far as you can remember. Think of the first chair you sat on,” she coached the audience. “Think of all chairs you’ve seen or heard about? Can your chair file in you mind be like anyone else’s? They can never be exactly the same,” she said. “Now think of a more abstract example: A good friend. For some, a friend is someone who laughs at you but doesn’t bother you. To someone else, a good friend checks in every day.”

Every day we engage in a common practice that updates our files. We reconstruct each time we communicate. According to this model, communication is not merely a transmission of ideas. It is meaning and activity, explained the San Jose State University lecturer.

Holopainen then talked about the importance of maintaining our “trust” file, which is so essential in alliance partnershipsor any partnership, for that matter.  The “trust” file can be added to in positive or negative ways: “We create something. There is an outcome. What happens if things go bad? Whose fault is it? It’s shared. We are all in it together,” she added. “Learning Outcome No. 1: Trust is mainly communication.”

Relationships move into a sphere of harm when you call someone stupid, she emphasized. “You want to move to the sphere of value. How do you move from one sphere to another? In communication, you discover your differences and get challenged.”

Dialogue is also important. Speak in a way that helps others listen. Listen in a way so that others will want to speak, she said. Pay attention. Dialogue has three key components:

  1. Hold your ground. Say what you want.
  2. Be open to the other, not in the way that you can trick someone later, but be open to be changed by the action.
  3. Stay in the tension between 1. and 2.:  Keep a balance between autonomy and collaboration.

She then applied her communication theories to cross-cultural skills. You can remake good cultural communication skills by practicing good communication behaviors. You need to manage both the relationship and the task, she said. 

“Instead of teaching ‘This is how to communicate with this one specific culture,’ it’s more difficult than that. Instead of teaching specific skills for Japanese, we need to teach skills to deal with diversity. Be open to your ear and ask: ‘Am I making this person uncomfortable?’”

Communication is an art. You make it work for you in the way it fits in your relationships, she noted. But be sensitive about when it’s appropriate. Storytelling is a great technique: It carries the listener into the story world … and into a framework that starts making sense, she explained. When you apply it to the situation, you understand it better and can start feeling empathy more easily. “There are also organizational stories. It is a whole system of values packaged,” she concluded. In the art of storytelling, “you can be strategic about how to make good stories that are inclusive.” 

Tags:  Alliance Partnerships  Communication  cross-cultural  culture  InFlux Communications  Minna J. Holopainen  storytelling 

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Partnering and Digital Transformation, Part Two: A Preview of the June 7 ASAP Tech Partner Forum with Erna Arnesen, CSAP

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

I’m back for Part Two of ASAP Media’s conversation with Erna Arnesen, CSAP, whom you can talk to yourself if you’re attending the Wednesday, June 7, 2017, ASAP Tech Partner Forum. Erna is a well-known and widely respected figure not just within ASAP but also in the high-tech community, where she’s been recognized as one of “Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. Erna currently serves as chief channel and alliance officer at ZL Technologies and has been working with a team of fellow ASAP Silicon Valley Chapter leaders to launch the ASAP Tech Partner Forum, which is focused on how to “collaborate at the speed of digital transformation” and hosted by gaming processor board maker NVIDIA at its corporate HQ in Santa Clara, Calif.

Erna also is the facilitator of a pivotal panel discussion on “Strategies You Need to Partner Everywhere,” where she will be joined onstage by Steen Graham, general manager, IoT ecosystem/channels, Internet of Things Group, Intel; Maria Olson, VP of global and strategic alliances at NetApp; and Andres Sintes, Cisco’s global senior director, partner GTM, digital transformation & IoT. We ended Part One http://www.strategic-alliances.org/blogpost/1143942/277657/Partnering-and-Digital-Transformation-A-Preview-of-the-June-7-ASAP-Tech-Partner-Forum-with-Erna-Arnesen-CSAP of this article in the middle of Erna describing what she plans to discuss with her fellow panelists—and why these are urgent topics for technology partnering and strategy executives.

ASAP Media: The event theme focuses squarely on how partnering and strategy must evolve to keep pace with digital transformation. How do you and your panelists intend to approach this topic?

As high-tech companies work to evolve and transform the way both they and their customers do business, partnering strategy is more complex. It’s complicated because you need to work with more and more partners doing bits and pieces of the total solution. While the technology connections are often highly automated, the collaboration often is manual. So we’re trying to manage the partnerships of complex technologies, many things in business are being digitally transformed, but our ability to work with partners isn’t that developed yet. Maria Olson of NetApp will talk about that—how even with her largest alliance partners, like Cisco, a lot of the communication, such as exchanging information, sharing leads, and so on are not always being handled with sophisticated technologies.

Andres Sintes of Cisco is going to raise some of the critical questions involved when you are focused on the infrastructure behind partnering. How do you connect ecosystems and share tools when you are still using 20th century technologies? Are we the cobbler’s children? Why are we as partners sometimes lacking the technology?

Another, related line of discussion is the process of simplification. As people digitally transform their businesses, they need to figure out how to make the more complex systems simpler from an operational standpoint. Whether you’re involved in two-way or multi-partner collaborations, you still need to have this mindset.

From a strategy standpoint, what other issues are top-of-mind for your panel—and presumably other strategy, partnering, and channel executives?

Everyone on our panel wanted to talk vertical strategy. Are we moving back, or forward, toward a verticalized set of tools and solutions? We believe that many partners and shared customers do have unique vertical requirements, and all three of my colleagues will give some examples of where they see that effect. We’ll also tie that into the Internet of Things (IoT), where you’re working with partners that often are not even IT providers, but vertical suppliers that evolved into digital strategies forcing them to be more IT centric.

Also we hope to have some discussion about very large, complex digitization like Smart Cities. The technology is advancing to make the Smart Cities vision more feasible. Cisco has been talking about it and developing the vision for 10 years—again, it’s one of the verticals with opportunity.

Another theme is monetization. People throw around digital transformation and integration of IoT, but what’s the real return on investment (ROI)?  What’s the strategy for monetization for you and partners, and what’s the benefit for customers in terms of their ROI?

Our last theme will address the effects of digital transformation on the partnering strategy. What is the impact on the ecosystem of today and tomorrow?

This will be an in-depth, hour-long discussion. In a nutshell, what do your panelists hope participants will take away with them when they return to their jobs?

To partner at scale for digital transformation, companies really have to build out more of the IT infrastructure around their alliance partnerships. They also need to focus on a multi-partner approach, verticalization, and simplification. If I had to summarize the messages they will share, it will be along the lines of those four major elements.  Let’s see how the panel discussion unfolds, though, and what insights are in store for the audience.

Read more in Part One of our Q&A with Erna Arnesen discussing the June 7, 2017, ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://www.strategic-alliances.org/blogpost/1143942/277657/Partnering-and-Digital-Transformation-A-Preview-of-the-June-7-ASAP-Tech-Partner-Forum-with-Erna-Arnesen-CSAP.  Learn more details about the event program at www.asaptechforum.org.  

Tags:  alliance partnerships  Andres Sintes  channel executives  Cisco  Digital transformation  ecosystem  Intel  Internet of Things (IoT)  IT infrastructure  Maria Olson  monetization  multi-partner collaborations  NetApp  partnering strategy  partnerships  simplification  Smart Cities  Steen Graham 

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On the Cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, How Agile is Your Alliance?

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017

Being brittle during a time of industry change can break a fragile allianceand even a business. Agility is key to surviving disruption, especially when a major shift is taking place to a new industrial age. Find out how your company can adapt and weather the change at the session “Agile Alliances: Catalyst for the Next Industrial Age,” as part of the 2017 Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. USA. The session will be moderated by Ann E. Trampas, CSAP, of the University of Illinois—Chicago, with panelists Anthony DeSpirito, CSAP, Schneider Electrics; Gaye Clemson, Globalinkage Consulting; Michael Young, Klick Health; Philip Sack, CSAP, Asia Collaborative Business Community. Sack provided these insights into the session during a recent interview.

How should companies prepare for the fourth industrial revolution with the increase in multi-partnering?

If we accept that the external drivers of global change are going to continue challenging organizationsslow economic growth, digital disruption, globalization, geopolitical uncertainty, speed of change, new nimble competitors, etc.then there is great pressure on organizations to become more agile, innovate, and continually adapt and change. However, this requires additional strategic thinking from previous approaches of value-chain efficiencies, market regulations (barriers to entry), improving costs management, and competitive positioning (differentiation). Success now requires greater thinking about how to continue driving new innovations, customer centricity (creating value), enhancing collaboration (external, internal), and new or adjacent market positions while simultaneously improving performance. That is no mean feat!

Why is it essential for partnerships to become more agilefaster, lighter, more flexible?

There is an increasing appetite for organizations to engage in more strategic collaboration and alliance partnerships, in part driven by the global changes affecting many organizations. Managed effectively, with appropriate support and investment, these relationships assist organizations to enhance their agility, market responsiveness, and new innovation efforts. Many organizations are looking at their strategic partners and networks of partners as a faster way of achieving these objectives rather than typical M&A (buying), or organic internal development (building). This “need to speed” implies that new collaborations and alliances focus on quickly assembling and disassembling around customer/market requirements, delivering rapid prototyping and development capabilities, and operating comfortably within complex and ambiguous situations.

How can alliance managers make their collaborations more agile and successful?

A good place to start would be to review existing collaborations and strategic alliances and how they support achieving these objectives, i.e., new innovations, co-creation capability, improving customer centricity, new products and service solutions, and incremental go-to-market approaches. This open dialogue provides an opportunity to review the original focus and strategic intent of the alliance, what is now required, and where the next evolution of the relationship needs to take place. However creating new alliance relationships that support these new strategic imperatives will involve taking a slightly different approach. Given that these strategic imperatives address significant challenges facing the organization, a firm-wide approach is required for success. The alliance management function has a natural orientation towards strategy, firm-wide thinking, facilitation, collaboration, and ecosystem orchestration. Hence, it should be in the perfect position to lead efforts to create cross-functional teams that would focus on creating, supporting, and delivering to these imperatives. These teams would include members from executive, strategy, research and development, marketing, and human resources and have a strong focus on entrepreneurial action and creation—in effect, a start-up way of thinking within the organization.

 
Is there anything specific to Asia that you think readers might want to know to improve their alliances with Asian companies?

Similar large-scale issues and challenges are being addressed by organizations across Asia as they are worldwide. Engaging within this area is quite exciting and challenging and should be done in a considered and measured approach. There certainly is a strong emphasis on relationships, a natural entrepreneurial spirit, and orientation to deal making. This requires addressing opportunities and making alliances aware of the various local and cultural contexts. This often takes quite some time to evolve. The key message is to do some research, find some local support, and be patient.

Tags:  alliance  alliance partnerships  Ann E. Trampas  Anthony DeSpirito  collaborations  cross-functional teams  cultural  ecosystem orchestration  Gaye Clemson  innovation  Michael Young  network  partners  Philip Sack 

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