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Building ‘Leadership Muscle’: Get Your Organization Ready for the ‘Partnering Marathon’

Posted By John M. DeWitt and John W. DeWitt, Thursday, March 7, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Welcome to the new partnering race—where everyone is running as fast as they can, frantically trying to catch up to the customer.

Nina Harding, channel chief at Google Cloud, asked an important question at the October 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum in San Jose, California: “So how do you work with your partners when the customers are ahead of the ecosystems?” This is indeed an important question, given that “every single thing we do is new,” according to Pear Therapeutics Founder and CEO Corey McCann. He added, in a keynote at the September 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference, that risks associated with new ventures “conspire to make partnerships not successful.” Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, partner at Vantage Partners, characterized the current playing field as “one of significant and ongoing change, which is driving new forms of collaboration, new kinds of alliances.”

Being successful on such a competitive playing field requires alliance practitioners to build their “leadership muscle,” the focus of the Q4 2018 Strategic Alliance Quarterly cover story, “Building ‘Leadership Muscle’: Are You and Your Alliance Management Organization Ready to Run the ‘Partnering Marathon’?” Building leadership muscle means giving your leaders the strength, flexibility, and endurance to withstand the breakneck pace of modern collaboration.

Why do you need this muscle? No matter your industry, regardless of the specific drivers, it’s almost certain that:

  1. Your company is “remixing” its build-buy-partner strategies;
  2. Partnering activity, especially nontraditional partnering, is exploding for your company;
  3. Your alliance organization faces an overwhelming workload;
  4. Your partnering strategy and execution require new thinking, skillsets, and tools.

If your company and its partners are evolving to catch the customer, then you should (or already will) be rethinking, reorganizing, and relearning:

  • Rethinking. Alliance leaders must continuously rethink partnering strategy and models in the context of disruption and new competitive threats, which are all-but-continuous now.
  • Reorganizing. If you aren’t thinking proactively about how you are organized and aligned to overall company strategy, you can be sure someone else is—and soon you will be thinking about it too, only reactively.
  • Relearning. Alliance executives require new skills and cross-industry knowledge for the new partners and ecosystems they interact with. Many alliance processes and practices require radical rethinking and streamlining if they are to remain useful for managing at the accelerating pace and exploding scope of partnering activities today.

“When all these things are changing around you, you can’t keep doing business as usual,” said Brandeis professor, consultant, and author Ben Gomes-Casseres, CSAP, PhD. “This means very often a change in company strategy [and] if the organization’s strategy is changing, then the alliance organization should change with that. That is fundamental.”

See the Q4 2018 issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly to learn more about how alliance leaders are rethinking, reorganizing, and relearning while they build “leadership muscle.” John M. DeWitt is copy editor and contributing writer and John W. DeWitt is editor and publisher for ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance publications.

Tags:  alliance  Ben Gomes-Casseres  channel  collaborative  Corey McCann  cross-industry  Google Cloud  leadership  Nina Harding  partnerships  Pear Therapeutics  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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‘You Give Me a Buck, and We Give You Back Three’: Pharma Partnering Leaders Discuss Roles—and the Value of Alliance Management

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, April 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The evolving roles of alliance executives—and capturing the value of the alliance function—were among the many topics that emerged as during the Tuesday, March 27 leadership panel discussion, “Driving Alliance Excellence into the Future,” moderated by Andy Eibling, CSAP, former Covance vice president of alliances, at the ASAP 2018 Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” March 26-28, 2018. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

 

Pharma executives joining Eibling for the discussion included Casey Capparelli, global product general manager in oncology at Amgen; Nancy Griffin, CA-AM, vice president and head of alliance management, global business development & licensing at Novartis; Mark Noguchi, vice president and global head, alliances and asset management, at Roche; and David S. Thompson, CA-AM, chief alliance officer, Eli Lilly and Company. (Editor’s Note: See the forthcoming April 2018 edition of eSAM Plus for more coverage of this fascinating leadership discussion.)

 

When Eibling threw out the topic of alliance management’s role in acquisitions, mergers, and divestments, and business development and licensing, he noted, “You need to differentiate between a stop and start in terms of divestments. Divestments can be ongoing. Someone in the group manages the ongoing process.”

 

Capparelli: In Amgen that holds true for small acquisitions, but large complex acquisitions need to be managed separately.

 

Thompson: You need to look to someone else to run a large acquisition.

 

Eibling: There’s lots happening in the pharma world today, but will it continue?

 

Thompson: There are more and more partnerships. The trend grows and grows. Today each alliance manager is involved with 20 to 30 alliances. How do you manage ever increasing volume? It’s hard to predict if something will come to fruition.

 

Eibling: Let’s look at the role of the alliance manager, and how it has shifted between project management and alliance management. Alliance management and project management need to be connected at the hip and carve out space through the partnership management team. There are three roles in a partnership management team. The question is who drives those team meetings? Who is accountable? Does the project manager manage the success of the alliance?

 

Thompson: Most M&A integration gets done in 100 days. The work looks the same except it’s compressed. It takes 100 days to swallow an alliance. It’s at a pace you need in an M&A.

 

Capparelli: Deal making is a transactional approach, but building trust generates respect.

 

Griffin: You build an operating model in the core so that you build consistent capabilities.

 

Noguchi: The Roche alliance group is modeled after Lilly. The skill set is there but compressed.

 

Eibling: There’s a shift between deal makers and an alliance manager with a partner. No one understands the dynamics as well as an alliance manager. With ever expanding projects, it’s the alliance manager who understands motivations and how to construct the alliance and M&A deal.

“Let’s look at value,” Eibling said, wrapping up the panel discussion. “How do you capture the value of alliance management? How do you define value?” he asked Thompson.

“Alliances are not efficient but effective,” Thompson asserted.

 

“Fear is a great motivator,” he continued. “I’ve seen too many alliances go out of existence. They focused on relationship management but didn’t expand beyond that to the legal and business risk. That contributed to their demise. They didn’t feel valued in the organization. So, in times of hardship, they’re an easy target to eliminate,” he explained.

 

“We saw it happening and so became open about our model. We measure continuation. We are adjudicated by leadership. It’s valuable to talk about your own contributions. You get the [internal] client you’re supporting to agree based on what they think—what they value or don’t value. Is this a risk reduction or efficiency game? You build to be efficient but it’s the face-to-face that often counts.  As for monetizing the value of alliance management, it’s simple. You give me a buck, and we give you back three.”

Tags:  acquisitions  alliance management  alliance manager  Amgen  Andy Eibling  Casey Capparelli  David S. Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  leadership  M&A  M&A integration  Mark Noguchi  Nancy Griffin  Novartis  partner  partnerships  Pharma executives  project manager  Roche 

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External Collaboration for Innovation: Bayer’s Key Leadership Role in Alliance Management

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

External collaboration for innovation has become a red-hot topic in the pharmaceutical industryand a critical practice for success. It was also the central topic during the leadership forum at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” Sept. 13-15 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. Chandra Ramanathan, Ph.D, vice president & head of the East Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, kicked off the discussion with an overview of Bayer’s approach.  

Call it “East meets West.” Ramanathan’s discussion of building innovative product portfolios through external crowd sourcing and other collaboration approaches occurred on the heels of a dynamic leadership spotlight talk last spring at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in San Diego, California, “Accelerating Innovation: Partnering Early and Often in the New Era of Cooperation,” led by Chris Haskellhead of the West Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, tucked away in San Francisco’s Mission Bay—who is responsible for Bayer’s CoLaboratory. Following is a recap of ASAP Media’s conversation with Haskell and coverage of his conference session in the spring.

Bayer’s West Coast CoLaborator space is a subdivision of the German healthcare company, which serves as an incubator for fledgling startups working on promising biotech projects. Haskell explained the impetus for Bayer’s focus on external collaboration: Pharma was taking a hard look at its business models, the challenges with the pace of innovation, and how to adapt to and work with the outside world.  “The pharma industry is a failure business. We have to put lots of drugs out to get one that gets to market,” Haskell notes. “We’re spending $2.6 billion per drug to get to marketthat’s an imbalance you sometimes can’t make up with a blockbuster,” he added.

Bayer wanted to harness the advantages of the life sciences ecosystem in Mission Bay, San Francisco, through local collaborations in early-stage research. So in 2012, it opened the CoLaborator, an incubator lab space located at Bayer’s US Innovation Center, which houses the US Science Huba scientific team actively identifying partnerships with academic and biotech researchers. The CoLaborator includes an open lab layout that is designed for a quick start of research activities. The 6,000 square foot lab fosters collaboration among companies who are emerging innovative life science firms. Bayer often lends support through financing some of the project and/or offering access to the expertise of their staff.

“Pharma companies haven’t done great with incubators—it’s hard to innovate in a short length of time. … But now there are 100 startups within 10 minute walk of my office that weren’t there 10 years ago—that’s thanks to incubators,” he said. “The CoLaborator structure isn’t so much experimentation. If it works, everybody wins. If doesn’t, you can’t sell it anywhere else.”

Their partners are selected because their innovations have the potential to be aligned with Bayer internal projects.  But it’s not a requirement that the work of these life science companies matches Bayer’s needs. The CoLaborator tenants are highly independent. The model relies on the flexibility of “strategic leasing,” allowing Bayer to work with these emerging companies that may not be immediate partners. At the same time, there is potential to build further partnership agreements that would share risks and rewards for both partners. Bayer looks for technologies or therapeutics that could have a major impact on its ability to improve the research process. “We consider the future growth and potential of these companies to see how our needs and the product will link together. Within the CoLaborator, the standard lease is two years, but we do not have a fixed timeline," he added.

Early innovators—it’s different than later-stage licensing. Developing trust and the tools you use are different, he then explained. “One thing we did to improve trust was to put people where the partners are—this is the structure of our global innovation and alliances group. We created innovation centers in five different regions to complement the core development in Germany,” he added.

“We hear a lot about trust—the pharma company is suffering a bit of a trust crisis” and politicians and others are certainly beating the drum against big pharma, he noted.  “You really have to work on this well before the deal comes into play and ask, ‘What does an innovator want, and what can you do to help them build trust’” to achieve that goal? He then provided several key suggestions to establish this foundation:

  • When working with smaller partners, be clear what you can’t do, and why you need them.
  • Acknowledge the speed differential when you are moving at different speeds.
  • Create a clear joint definition of success, which is often an iterative process, and then de-risk the process.
  • Have a local interpreter when cultures and processes merge.
  • Run joint test projectswhen they crash and burn, view it not as failure but a   learning opportunity.

“One of the challenges alliance managers have in early innovation partnering is the belief that it’s “not in my job description,” he concluded. “Trust yourself, and keep sticking with it because you will have wins in the end. Know who to go to, de-risk, and build a story. Finally, simple contracts and dialogue risk info leaks. That could happen. This is where trust comes in. … Stay in touch, create support letters for grants, make your network their network. This is not 2007. Get over it. They will come to you first if you’ve built that trust. What has Bayer created? Successive leadership is driving this.”

Stay tuned for more coverage of this topic from the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

Tags:  Bayer  Chandra Ramanathan  Chris Haskell  CoLaboratory  Innovation  Leadership  network  pharma  startups  strategic leasing 

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New ASAP Corporate Member Bridge Partners Helps Industries Connect for More Successful Partnering

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, December 20, 2016

This is one in a series of blog posts welcoming seven new corporate members into the ASAP fold. Bridge Partners practices “the art and science of business transformation” by helping customers address challenges, adapt to change, empower teams, and win in the marketplace. Channel transformation is one of the most crucial challenges enterprises need to address, says Chase Morgan, a partner at the company. Bridge Partners specializes in technology sector trends and provides deep, hands-on experience in alliance strategy, business planning, joint sales initiatives, enablement, and analytics. The company also provides specialized practices in the following areas: sales and channel; digital; operations and technology; people and change; product and solution marketing; program and project leadership. Morgan provided the following additional information about the new ASAP corporate member:

What inspired your team to join ASAP at the corporate level?
I was fortunate to be an ASAP member when I ran global ISV [independent software vendor] relationships at a large software company. Because we are serious about our channel transformation practice, it only made sense to join ASAP. It's the place to be to obtain valuable information on partnering practices.

How do you anticipate the ASAP corporate membership benefitting you and your team?
ASAP is the perfect gathering place to network and for consultants to exchange ideas with the most experienced alliance leadership in the world. We strive for continuous learning and are committed to providing service back to the communities with which we engage. We also look forward to developing new relationships with potential clients and partners and enhancing the ones we have through ASAP best practices.

 

Please share a bit of additional background information on your company. 
Since 2006, Bridge Partners has distinguished itself as a national leader in business consulting with offices in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin. The quality of our work is nationally recognized, and the company consistently ranks as one of the fastest growing businesses in America. It has made the Inc. 5000 list for five consecutive years. Our real-world experience and unwavering commitment to services means our client’s business successfully moves forward under a highly skilled management team.


What sets Bridge Partners apart from similar consulting companies?
 

Bridge Partners has a unique collaborative business model that connects local knowledge with a national presence. We deliver results for a wide range of companies: from Fortune 50 to start-up; technology and manufacturing to healthcare and transportation. Our consultants deliver insightful strategy, meticulous planning, and creative thinking.

Tags:  alliance  analytics  Bridge Partners  Channel transformation  Chase Morgan  collaborative business model  creative thinking  digital  enablement  joint sales initiatives  leadership  marketing  marketplace  network  planning  strategy 

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What a CEO Wants—and Doesn’t Want—in an Alliance Executive: A Peek inside the Mind of Mayoly Spindler CEO

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Thursday, September 8, 2016

From an alliance management perspective, how you would you describe your perfect CEO? After today, I might start with the handsome, articulate, and drily witty Stéphane Thiroloix, CEO of French pharmaceutical company Mayoly Spindler. Sharing a peek inside his mind as a company leader, today’s opening plenary speaker at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston at one point described himself as “an anxious maniac” who secretly wishes to avoid meetings with some partners and worries over all the details he can’t remember about other partners. 

Thiroloix opened his talk by describing his humiliation at the center of an unmitigated partnering disaster. A far cry from the historic lament of partnering executives—“the C-suite has no idea what we do”—Thiroloix talked in sufficient detail to demonstrate his thorough command of the ins and outs of strategic partnering and the alliance management role. He also described how he has pushed to expand the role of alliance management in his current company, which focuses on gastroenterology and dermocosmetics. Not surprisingly, the audience was hooked from start to finish. 

Thiroloix backed up his talk by a handful of spare, almost minimalist slides (except for one animated slide that, I’m not kidding, showed a fairy flying around an org chart, waving her wand and sprinkling the magic dust of alliance management across the C-suite team). For nearly an hour of presentation and Q&A, Thiroloix riveted his audience of approximately 150 alliance executives by describing the importance of what they do and how they do it—from his perspective as a CEO. 

After reviewing the sweeping shift, during the past 30 years, from a highly vertical and self-contained pharmaceutical industry to the highly interdependent industry of today, he noted the truism that “we cannot get away from partnering. Today, you can’t do that, regardless of who you are—you have to partner in pretty much everything you do.” Moreover, that means CEOs need to care very much about alliance management. “This really has projected your role to a central role in what we do in the healthcare industry.” 

Then Thiroloix pivoted to the heart of his presentation. “Now I’d like to focus on the other aspect—the C-suite interaction with alliance management. There are a number of things that I’ve come to expect.” 

For starters, alliance management should be a “one-stop shop” for anything involving partners. “We expect you to know everything about the partnership—if you don’t, who will?” he asked. “I don’t know everything about our partners and I develop anxiety about that. The only way to relieve that anxiety is to talk to you. It’s technically important [to provide this knowledge] and also an interesting element of career dynamics. This is about reassuring the C-suite.” 

Indeed, he described in detail his expectations of “support for my team. We want to be informed, prompted and supported, and coordinated. I expect you to keep my team on the right page of that book, and help them to contribute to the health of that alliance.” 

One of Thiroloix’s most powerful points then came when he described his perspective on importance of advocating for the partner—demonstrating just how clearly he sees the nuances of alliance management and its pivotal role in partnering success. 

“I expect the alliance manager to put herself at risk at some point for the partner. Any C-suite will paint the picture the color they need it,” he explained. “The role of the alliance manager is to tell us, ‘you can’t do this because our partner is actually expecting the opposite,’ and to overcome the natural bias of executive committees.” As he did throughout his talk, Thiroloix then dug a layer deeper, explaining what he called a “survival skill” for alliance execs when they are advocating for the partner: 

“Make sure you are clear it’s your opinion versus painting the picture for the partner. I expect the alliance manager to tell me, ‘Stéphane, this is how our partner sees it,’ then say, ‘I think they’re wrong and might be open to changing their minds,’ or, ‘I think they’re right and we need to change our approach.’” 

He also emphasized the importance of telling senior leadership what they need to know about partners to do their jobs—but not what you might want them to know about your job and what it takes to do it. 

“Alliance managers are same as everyone else standing in front of senior management,” he admonished. “We all tend to go over the whole story about every one of our partnerships when we get a little bit of ear time—but don’t do that, we know how hard you work. The C-suite doesn’t understand the job, the complexity—but they understand the need for this type of job.”

Tags:  alliance manager  C-suite  leadership  Mayoly Spindler  partner  senior management  Stéphane Thiroloix  strategic partnering 

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