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Here’s to Another Alliance Launch

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, October 31, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Alliances win—and the profession of alliance management advances—when we partner together to meet the challenges ahead.

     In this “best of the past” issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly, we’re actually embarking at the same time on a new voyage into the future. So I thought it would be a good idea to introduce—or reintroduce—myself to ASAP members and readers.

     It’s been my good fortune recently to be named editor in chief of this magazine and senior editorial consultant to ASAP. Some of you might remember me from my time editing and writing for what was then Strategic Alliance Magazine from its first issue in Q2 2011 until early 2014. I was also involved in editing the 2013 ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management: A Practitioner’s Guide, supporting the editorial team so skillfully led by Norma Watenpaugh, Ard-Pieter de Man, Dave Luvison, and others.

     My experience has largely been in the realms of writing and editing—copyediting, proofreading, and production editing for book publishers; and writing for and serving as editor or managing editor of a couple of quarterly magazines and one weekly newspaper. 

     Late last year I was thrilled to be asked to work with ASAP once again and write two (so far) updates to the Handbook: a supplement on IT partnering (completed) and another on biopharma alliances (in progress). Throughout the process of interviewing ASAP members and other alliance leaders for these supplements over the last few months, I was struck time and again by how knowledgeable, insightful, and far-seeing the members of this community are.

     These senior executives, consultants, researchers, and analysts drove home for me a number of important points. One is that alliance professionals need to transition from being merely “managers” who do what they’re told to leading as big-picture strategic visionaries who take an entrepreneurial view of partnering as they guide their alliances to fruition. Another is that they need to take responsibility for their own careers and take charge of their collaborations, working in multiple directions at once to educate and align senior leaders, get stakeholder buy-in, and achieve a sense of trust with partners, among other mission-critical activities.

     This is certainly easier said than done, and as one alliance leader told me, alliance managers typically end up “wearing many hats on one head,” accountable to people above and below them—not to mention laterally, in diverse functional areas—in their organization, as well as to their counterparts at partner companies.

In addition, these already busy, time-constrained folks somehow need to “see around corners” in their partnerships, their company, and their industry in order to know what’s coming next and help decide how their organizations—and their partnering strategies—will need to adjust, pivot, or even about-face to meet the challenges. This is especially true in the fast-moving world of technology partnering, but it applies as well to biopharma and practically any other sector you can name.

     As one IT industry analyst put it: “The whole world has blown up, and now it’s landing and settling. The head of alliances will be the most important person in any company in the next ten years. It’s going to create winners and losers, and complete disruption. But alliances win!”

     All the more reason for today’s companies to have not just an alliance management function, but a partnering strategy. More to the point, any corporate strategic vision should include partnering and alliances as part of the way business gets done, as a key route to competitive success in this age of ecosystems, complex supply chains, new markets, and ever more volatile conditions. The people and companies that can get that strategy nailed down and take it to market will be the most successful in a time of disruption.

     That, of course, is where ASAP comes in, drawing on the collective wisdom of its members in order to lead, educate, and set the agenda for the profession. I’m incredibly pleased to once more be partnering with ASAP in this endeavor, and as we launch our alliance, I invite you to be a part of it. Contact me anytime with article ideas and submissions, suggestions for blog posts or other content, and questions or comments about what we’re doing. And if you see me at BioPharma in Boston, the European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam, or next year’s Global Alliance Summit in Tampa, come up and say hello!

Michael J. Burke is editor in chief of Strategic Alliance Quarterly and senior editorial consultant to ASAP. He can be reached at mburke@strategic-alliances.org.

Tags:  alliance management advances  Alliances  Ard-Pieter de Man  big-picture strategic visionaries  BioPharma Conference  challenges ahead European Alliance Summit  Dave Luvison  Global Alliance Summit  IT industry  Norma Watenpaugh  partner  partnering strategy  profession  Strategic Alliance Quarterly 

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‘Running on Ice’: Creating a Winning Partnering Team When the Odds Are Against You—Part 2

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“Just getting on the track was a challenge,” Donna Peek, CSAP, vice president, global alliances at Genpact, said during a creative session “Cool RunningsThe Road to Building New Alliance Capability” co-led by her colleague Scott Valkenburgh, CSAP, vice president, global alliances leader. She was further explaining their analogy of their process of building a winning bobsledding team, much as was done for the 1988 Olympics by a Jamaican team (see Part 1 of this blog for background on the movie used to frame for their session).  The analogy was particularly near and dear to Peek’s heart because her grandmother is Jamaican, she said, while modeling her yellow jacket worn for the event. Peek continued to describe Genpact’s challenging experience transitioning into a partnering mindset where they created teams capable of “running on ice.”

“Our organizations are filled with sellers with no partnering experience. We didn’t know how to think about partnering. So we created a  quick and easy checklist to answer the existential question: To partner or not to partner?” explained Peek to rippling laughter throughout the room. The list highlights the following key questions:

  1. Should we consider partnering?
  2. Will partnering increase the likelihood of winning?
  3. Can we team with this partner?
  4. What are my options other than partnering?

We eventually “had in place the owner, experienced coaches,  growing team, strategy. Now we needed uniforms, equipment, etc.,” she further explained. “And you can’t win races without money. That means getting sponsors and establishing partner programs. … In doing that, we work with all the key stakeholders,” she continued, and then talked about areas in need of alignment with the strategy:

  • Marketing
  • Legal
  • Services lines: “We created our Blueprint 2.0 to … understand their strategies and align with our strategies.”
  • Risk/compliance: “We created a vendor governance office at Genpact—not the most ‘partner friendly’ processes.”
  • Sales and the CRM system: “The very first order of business when contemplating partnering, where we looked at fields to tag partners [in our CRM system to] capture data about partnering.” 

Prepping the training track is another important component, added Van Valkenburgh. “The  challenge is to achieving the “perfect slide”—a bobsledding term. When bringing a bobsled onto the track, and getting people to push it, you need to ask: “How do we know the track is running well and consistent?”

Peek and Van Valkenburgh experienced “the antithesis of what every alliance professional experiences,” he observed. “Senior leadership was behind it, but then you get to the other 89,000 people. So you get the funding, support, and visibility, and then you realize there is  concrete underneath [the snow], and someone melted the ice. ... It’s really apparent on the track that that is concrete, not ice,” he joked. “We are a company of entrepreneurs, but a company of entrepreneurs with 90,000 people is a lot of train wrecks. Systems and processes really matter. So how do you combine that track with the entrepreneurial spirit?” he asked. “The last part was, we don’t have a track. If I don’t produce the results, building out the track doesn’t matter. How do we build this track and get the culture behind it?”

What was one of the best tools Genpact used to reconfigure the organization? An alliance maturity model, said Van Valkenburg.  “Most of us have these complex models, these spider webs. What we created was [a simple] six things.

“If you can get the maturity level to advance, the growth potential is huge,” he noted. “This can be difficult for one-on-one partnerships, but multi-tenancy partnerships are even harder. … You have to spend as much internal time with [your organization’s leaders] building a true connection. Once they believe you are going to build a bobsled team, you are in. Your team skillset matters. The involvement of the leadership matters,” he concluded. “The celebration is with the team, not just the alliance partners.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s comprehensive coverage at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

Tags:  alliance professionals  alliances  Donna Peek  Genpact  Global Alliance Summit  partner  partnering mindset  partners  Scott Van Valkenburgh  team 

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‘Running on Ice’: Creating a Winning Partnering Team When the Odds Are Against You—Part 1

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Running on ice. That’s how Genpact’s Scott Van Valkenburgh, CSAP, vice president, global alliances leader and Donna Peek, CSAP, global alliances, described their company’s transition to a partnering mindset in their session “Cool RunningsThe Road to Building New Alliance Capability.” The session took place at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystem” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Despite the challenges, the transition to partnering has served them well: Genpact pulled in $47 million in business in their first year of partnering. The company brought in 8 partners and plans to add 10 more in 2019. But the process “was like running on ice to build the team,” said Van Valkenburgh during a clever retelling of their experience in a session based on the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings.”

The movie is a fictionalized account of the Jamaican bobsledding team that in real life trained for the 1988 Olympics. It was the first time Jamaica competed in the Olympics, and in a category mismatched for a country that rarely sees snow and has average temperatures hovering around 80 degrees.

So what does the Jamaican bobsledding team have to do with Genpact? For Van Valkenburgh and Peek, the process of transitioning Genpact to partnering took considerable training and a highly strategic approach. “We didn’t have the language …. We had to define what partners were,” he explained to the packed room. It was like: “You’re on a journey, we are funding you, we got you a sled. Now train people who have never run on ice before.”

Building the team was structurally challenging with the need to balance roles, weight, and speed—to name just a few of the considerations. Bobsled racing is performed with either a two- or four-person team. A team of four requires sensitive balancing in the sled at the ends and in the center. “If you have four people sprinting and one person is out of sinc, it doesn’t work,” he explained of the analogy. “You have to have people doing the right things in the right order. How do we get homegrown talent …  working well? And how do you create that culture?” he said, describing some of the problems faced.

“I build culture first and processes and goals second. If you can’t get the culture of your team right, then all the challenges happen,” he added, while also pointing out the importance of being open to the fact that the team you had before doesn’t easily fit into the new partnering structure: “You can’t have people who can’t run,” he observed.

To build a world-class team, you need to  create world-class athletes, he said. “There’s a whole reset mindset involved” just getting on the track. To make that happen, Genpact found, you need to do the following:

  • Create tipping points.
  • Build important things. “If it wasn’t going to get us on the track, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Make moments that matter. “That emotional deposit you give, that’s your bank account.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s live, onsite coverage of this session and others from 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. Cynthia B. Hanson is managing editor of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance publications. 

Tags:  alliances  Donna Peek  Genpact  Global Alliance Summit  partner  partnering mindset  partners  Scott Van Valkenburgh  team 

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