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NOT ‘Business as Usual:’ What the BioPharma Channel Can Glean From High Tech

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, October 16, 2017
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017

Partnering isn’t “business as usual” anymore. “Even companies that think they have their practices down are all reinventing what they are doing now because they have to deal with … the increasing speed, scale, and scope of partnering that has become exponentially greater,” emphasized Jan Twombly, CSAP, The Rhythm of Business, Inc., during her session “The BioPharma Channel: Leveraging Practices from the High-Tech World to Drive Success.” Twombly was presenting at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” held Sept. 13-15 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass.

“The high tech channel has learned that you are not going to be successful if your channel partners aren’t successful. … You need customized partners to provide local market access. High tech needs new partners because it needs vertical and technical specialization. Some companies do this better than others,” she added. For example, Cisco generates 85 percent of revenues by channel partners. That’s exceptional, considering that the industry average is 39 percent.

The channel is a route to market that is accessed either by communication avenues, a direct sale force, or co-commercializing a product with a partner. It’s about delivering on intended value in a resource-friendly way, she added.  Biopharma usually doesn’t consider the channel as key to growth. Yet market growth trends and future projections from BMI Research indicate that unmet patient needs and the significant growth potential of emerging markets provide significant reason for pursuing a channel strategy, Twombly said, while flashing past market size data and future size projections:

2010: $150 billion
2015: $245 billion
2020: $340 billion
2025: $490 billion

High-tech channel partners are not seeking more automation, Twombly observed.  What they are looking for is:

  • More engagement with field engineers and local sales personnel
  • Greater understanding of corporate priorities
  • Joint planning on strategic opportunities
  • Better understanding of their partners’ strategies and plans
  • More proactive communications, support, and relationship management

So what can the biopharma industry learn from high tech’s successes with channel partnering? Twombly asked.

  1. Take a portfolio approach: Place bets carefully, and manage it as a portfolio from low-touch to high-touch.
  2. Carefully manage the transitions, and ensure partner (and stakeholder) readiness.
  3. Maintain robust measurements, reporting, and action from a 360-degree perspective. We are becoming very data driven.
  4. Make it part of the fabric of the organization from end to end: Bake it in, don’t bolt it on. You need to have a strategy, and the partnering needs to be integrated into various functions of your company.

That’s critical to the entire process, she emphasized:  “Baking it in. … We like using a stakeholder management model. In many instances, you will not have dedicated people. You need to understand the economics; have good reporting and data collection that are able to be monitored; focus on closing the gap between current practice and what stakeholders need to profitably support the channel partners. That is how you will demonstrate value,” she advised.

“Governance is sometimes not in place,” she added. “You want simpler governance because of the nature of the relationships, but still need to have executive and operations levels to formal governance. Make sure you have the right participants engaged, set expectations, and have proper alignment and meetings. Make them good, formal meetings, but create an environment people will want to attend. The quarterly business reviews in high tech are typically all one way. If you really want to build that relationship so the partner can help you with market access and driving the business, you need to make it a two-way meeting.”

Consider conducting partner summits, she concluded. In the high tech world, they are a staple for building relationships by helping partners learn what’s new and where company strategies are headed. Summits provide an opportunity to have all your partners together to learn about common challenges.

ASAP Members can learn more about this provocative and well-attended ASAP BioPharma Conference session in the September 2017 issue of eSAM Plus.

Tags:  alignment  ASAP BioPharma Conference  BMI Research  channel partners  channels  governance  high tech  Jan Twombly  partners  portfolio approach  stakeholder  summits  The Rhythm of Business 

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Twombly & Shuman’s Next Generation Partnering Capability Workshop to Explore How to ‘Think Horizontal: Reimagining Partnering Practices’

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017

Ecosystem partnerships everywhere are confronting the brave new world of the fourth industrial revolution. Join the discussion at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California USA, to explore the transformational landscapes emerging on the horizon.

In their interactive presentation Think Horizontal: Reimagining Partnering Practices as Digital Business Transformation Becomes Reality,” Jan Twombly, CSAP, and Jeff Shuman, CSAP, PhD, principals of The Rhythm of Business, reimagine the alliance governance process and introduce an approach common in design thinking to move from where you are today to where you need to be. The session is based, in part, on their recently published eBook, The Power to Partner Everywhere: Why You Need It, What It Is, How to Build It, which was also written by Lorin Coles, CSAP, Alliancesphere.

 “The new challenge for companies is to master the speed, scale, and scope of partnering in the fourth industrial revolution, but many are not prepared, according to Jeff Shuman. “Though technologies of this new eraarti­ficial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things, to name a fewmay be utilized, companies need to reimagine how they do business. To be effective, alliances need to develop a strategic way of working both externally and internally.”  

“Most people think vertically, but the key is to also think horizontally, thus creating a holistic perspective. They need to reimagine partnershipreimagine a new way of partneringbut not just the technology that will inform the change. The governance structure is the horizontal that stretches across the entire organization and allows collaborative interactions in a frictionless manner,” Shuman emphasizes.

“Collaboration is key if an organization is to gain access to currencies each party brings to a relationship. By creating an overarching governance process, you provide the mechanisms that allow partnering activity to flow freely. But to effect that, there’s a need for a cross-functional, interlocking process. It’s imperative to build a system of governance that goes horizontally acrossfrom ideation all the way to go-to-marketa partnership development and execution process that moves seamlessly, frictionlessly from function to function to enablement in the field,” he says.

Designing and building this capability is an iterative, data-driven process that will reshape an organization and how it empowers employees to engage in the ecosystem, creating value for customers, partners, and stakeholders.  The Think Horizontal: Reimagining Partnering Practices” session is designed to help identify and articulate the challenges a company faces in transforming its partnering practices to the horizontal approach needed to support the speed, scale, and scope of partnering required today.  

Tags:  artificialintelligence  biotechnology  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  nanotechnology  partnering  robotics  the Internet of Things 

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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process (Part Three): How Alliance Teams Build an Experience Map, Grapple with Challenges, and Iterate

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Monday, October 3, 2016
Updated: Friday, September 30, 2016

As you work through the design thinking process and apply it to your partnerships, you are building techniques to reach a decision, and you are learning to work together. With an alliance team and two core partners, you can get at an aligned recommendation or proposal. The ideal is to brainstorm and map out the most efficient way partners can get to the most effective process to come to a proposal. Then bring the partners together and arrive at a decision. Instead of “You have your way and I have mine,” ask “What is the alliance way?”

Now participants in the “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” workshop are exploring how to build an experience map. At this point in the 90-minute interactive session at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University professor Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, are leading breakout groups through the process, advising executives to:

  • Step back and focus on empathic needs using their emotional intelligence.
  • Define what the empathic needs are for the co-diagnostic partner.
  • Report back to the larger project team—scientists, governance bodies, and other stakeholders.
  • Brainstorm with the larger group in mind.
  • Accelerate the delivery process, and eliminate elements can slow the process down.
  • Separate decision making into a core group for brainstorming and a companion diagnostics partners group.
  • Question if either party has experience. If both or neither have experience, then negotiate.

It’s critically important for alliance managers to drive the process and ensure it’s actually happening. Establish a collaboration leadership team; compare the companions in a diagnostic space and find companion diagnostic partners. Define the objective of the proposal and components. Both parties should come up with a short list of partners. There should be a joint evaluation process before asking for project approval. Get feedback, and redesign the prototype loop. Bring leaders and managers together to do this. Obtain a joint alliance management agreement on a new design. Relaunch the collaboration, implement from both partners, and plan for a joint development.

  • Two groups should come together and define a shared problem or goal.
  • Identify the problems.
  • Bring back to the company collective and individual brainstorming and group feedback.
  • Finalize and propose to the steering committee.

Approach Issues with Partners—and Build Iteration into the Process

Implementation

There is a skill to defining assumptions that may turn out to be true, or not true. Engage people, and roll it out to create a social charter, and stick to it. When looking at the final piece—look to iterate. You may find you didn’t get the question right, or you may discover you didn’t understand and so-and-so needed to be brought into the process. Question: Are you delivering the design experience? Make sure you find measures that define it. Prior to the proposal being presented to governance, make sure everyone has bought in.

As part of the workshop, groups were formed and asked to identify three assumptions inherent in the process they designed. Additionally, they were asked to assess the following: What is the most critical assumption you have made, and if it’s wrong, what is the impact? 

Group responses:

  • People won’t be candid or transparent or participate in individual conversations.
  • The development team is vetting the plan properly, and it was checked for joint alignment.
  • Both teams want to work jointly and collaborate. Or do they think they know best?  
  • They assume the other company has experience, but they may not have the experience or data needed.
  • In the list of shared attributes, make sure the internal list matches up. If not, it won’t pass governance.
  • You don’t need hard data numbers to prove or disprove the assumption.

Final thoughts

ID assumptions.  Use iteration. Move forward and focus on the intended outcome.  Start the intended experience, and map backwards. All stakeholders must get their needs satisfied; if not, they will stick out their foot and stop the process. Give power to partners if you wish to engage in a productive and collaborative process.

Tags:  alliance managers  alliance teams  Bentley University  biopharma  collaboration  decision making  design thinking  healthcare  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  leadership team  non-asset based alliances  partnering  partners  The Rhythm of Business 

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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process, Part II: Alliance Execs Explore the Culture of Creativity from Inspiration to Iteration

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, September 30, 2016

Throughout the fast-paced workshop, “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University business professor Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, focused on real-life scenarios biopharma alliance teams encounter, such as partnering with multiple partners, non-asset based alliances, and partnering with other sectors that run on much faster clock speeds than is typically seen in biopharma. 

“If the end goal is ‘getting there’ despite these complexities, whatever ‘getting there’ has been determined to be will set off an exhaustive testing and learning cycle in a high-uncertainty environment,” Shuman explained. For many, this may involve developing new cultural behaviors for the team, referred to as a “culture of creativity.” In the arts and design world, the expectation is that the process involves creation and change, where art forms of whatever medium are created and altered or edited in a series of steps considered native to the process. But because we operate in a more linear environment, one project or task at a time, the need to pivot and change direction may seem like a form of failure. For some, iteration does not come easy, yet it is integral to the ultimate success of a project.

In the “how” of “getting there,” the first step involves clarifying the motivations, perceptions and beliefs of stakeholders in the inspiration phase, engaging in a process of discovery and inquiry to hone in on the core question to answer. This is especially important when working with multiple partners because each team comes with its own set of corporate cultural values and language.

In working with a partner, Twombly emphasized, work within a framework of give-and-get thinking.  “Look at their needs first, what is it you need to do to help them to get what they need, and they will do the same for you. Visualize success and how it is different than what has been done in the past. Then test the idea in a safe situation. Map it out, and role play as a test.”

Drawing from one of the “greatest hits” of business strategy, the workshop focus turned to techniques outlined in Google Ventures’ five-day sprint, which can be used to launch products and build services. The sprint gives a team a shortcut to learning, by starting with a journey or experience map where you map out a problem and pick a place to focus. In the case of biopharma and healthcare, the focus might be on how patients access a new product faster. Following the mapping phase, you brainstorm competing solutions. Next, you move on to making decisions and creating a testable hypothesis. Then comes a prototype, and finally, testing.

“Start with the end. What is the objective? Who are the players?” Jan and Jeff asked the gathering. Jan warned that in brainstorming, most don’t do it well.  It’s important to stay focused on the question and come up with as many ideas as possible and then to prioritize.

Part III of our “Design in Pencil” story will discuss how to build an experience map for teams, grapple with issues that arise, and build iteration into the design thinking process. 

Tags:  alliance teams  ASAP BioPharma Conference  Bentley University  biopharma  healthcare  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  non-asset based alliances  partnering  The Rhythm of Business 

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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process (Part One): BioPharma Partnering Execs Explore How to ‘Get Smart Quickly’ and ‘Change as Needed’

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Participants packed the “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” workshop at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, diving into the 90-minute session to gain insight into design thinking as an innovative strategy that can be applied to alliance management.

Though design as a way of thinking in the sciences was explored as early as the late 1960s, the approach was expanded on by Rolf Faste at Stanford University in the 1980s and 90s. Design thinking was adapted for business purposes by Faste's Stanford colleague, David M. Kelley, who in 1991 founded IDEO, which focuses on a human-centered approach to innovative, problem-solving solutions.

Led by ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University professor, Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, the interactive session drew from IDEO as well as an IBM model that can be adapted to help alliance management teams solve problems at the speed and scale today’s corporate world demands. The workshop was designed to provide participants with proven tools and techniques that can immediately be put to use to align operating processes—or to address any complex problem. 

“When you know what you need to learn, you can get smart quickly,” Twombly stated as she explained how the design thinking process defines the problem and then uses the basic framework to arrive at desired customer process and outcomes.  Implementation of the solution always involves the needs of the end user.  However, iteration, the repetition of a process, is key to assessing outcomes and implementing change. And the iterations change as you begin to think smarter, she said. 

“You need to identify assumptions, and then ID info that was derived from that assumption and decide if the assumption was good or bad. But do it in pencil,” Twombly warned the group. “Give yourselves the opportunity to change as needed. Take time out of the process to do this.”

Key points in assessing end user needs and gaining other stakeholders’ inputs:

  • Interview with empathy, put stakeholders at ease, talk to invoke stories, give examples, and be specific.
  • Question statements—repeat back what you’ve heard to arrive at “yes” in an agreement and move forward.
  • Look for inconsistency and for nonverbal cues, such as, hesitation in a voice and areas that need to be worked through.
  • Do not ask leading questions and don’t give them the answers—let them come up with the truth of how they think and feel.
  • Find ways to work so you can be more efficient and effective.

Twombly cautioned that when working in tandem with another group, act as a joint think tank where you both develop a concept and don’t develop competing concepts in isolation and then fight over them. Think of how others might feel if the proposal they worked on, on their own, was roundly rejected. She then asked the participants grouped by tables to develop three questions that need to be asked of team member. 

At this point in the workshop, Shuman began to actively work with the groups. The questions needed to look at “what we’ve experienced that gets at what was wrong with the process.” The purpose of the questions is to generate design strategy from design thinking. Questions developed by the groups included:

  • What is frustrating about the ways we collaborate?
  • What is the value of meetings?
  • What about this process keeps you up at night?
  • What do you think is working about the collaboration?  What isn’t working?
  • How do you feel the meeting is going?  Be candid.
  • What defines a great collaboration meeting?  What does it accomplish?

“Use the questioning process to see what matters and then base your design on it,” Twombly said. “Ask why and how. It’s always good to gather data in pairs. One asks questions and one captures data. Order the answers in a series of needs statements, as in: 

Question: Why do we need more efficient acceleration?

Answer: We need greater efficiency to drive the agenda, to get the product to the customer.

Question:  If that is why, then how do we get there? 

Stay tuned to the ASAP Blog for Part Two of our coverage of Twombly and Shuman’s design thinking workshop, as well as continued blog posts about other informative and provocative sessions that ASAP Media team covered during last week’s 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference at the Revere Hotel Boston Common. 

Tags:  alliance management  Bentley University  collaboration  customer  David M. Kelley  design thinking  IBM  IDEO  innovative strategy  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  problem-solving solutions  Rolf Faste  stakeholders  Stanford University  The Rhythm of Business 

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