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Alignment, Agility, and ‘Leadership IQ’ | Alliance leaders always have driven alignment. But what do we do differently, as disruption accelerates?

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, November 27, 2019

As an alliance leader, I used to spend 70 percent of my time not working with partners, but working on aligning internally. The concept of creating value through partnering was brand new for our leaders. We’d never walk into a meeting without a pre-meeting. Building alignment stole time away from creating new value with partners—yet it was critically important to delivering the value intended when the alliance was created.

Much has changed in alliance management—but driving alignment remains a central task of alliance leaders.

Indeed, research indicates the highest performing alliance leaders are “ambassadors” who bridge boundaries both internally as well as externally. They focus “on dialoguing with superiors and other stakeholders, proactively putting themselves on the agenda of their leaders, and managing behaviors,” according to Dave Luvison, CSAP, PhD, professor at Loyola University Maryland.

That makes sense—but what about time for externally facing alliance management?

Applying agile principles to partnering reflects a broad understanding in our profession that alliance management cannot afford to accrete more bureaucracy and process. Instead, how can we simplify the activities and processes of driving alignment so that partnering can become more agile? That seems essential to proceed effectively in the ecosystem—where it’s just not possible for there to be 100 percent alignment.

Complex models once helped us describe, in comprehensive detail, the complicated work and rich value created in the alliance management function. Alliance leaders have always looked for simplified means to explain the complexity of partner value creation. Back in the day, we used our STAR model to define Situations, Tasks, Actions, and Results—simplifying our alignment discussions as much as possible.

Today, partnering leaders look to jettison complexity wherever they can, seeking shortcuts in the traditional alliance lifecycle and technologies to further streamline alliance activities. It is the embodiment of Albert Einstein’s famous admonishment: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” At its roots, then, agility is about changing how we think.

“Growth is a thinking game,” said Salesforce evangelist Tiffani Bova, author of Growth IQ. I would add that alliance management is a thinker’s profession. As our profession both expands and evolves in direct response to pervasive disruption, our most critical and differentiating skill remains our “leadership IQ.” It defines how we understand the transformation of business and its implications for partnering practice.

“In the advancing era of artificial intelligence, companies need to create all the pieces—and alliances—necessary to make it easy to adapt for the advancement of products,” said Bruce Anderson, IBM’s general manager, high tech/electronics industry. “You need to ask how your company should be thinking about alliances in this accelerating business approach,” he emphasized. “Alliances have become fundamental to the idea of strategy.”

Anderson’s and Bova’s points reinforced each other in a powerful way, I thought. How we think, the choices (and sequence of choices) we make, and how quickly and efficiently we can make decisions all matter. Alliance managers must improve their “leadership IQ” to better understand the big picture of disruption, how it will create value or threaten loss of market share—and how, “in this accelerating business approach,” they will drive alignment accordingly.

Tags:  accelerating  agile  aligning creating value  alliance leader  alliance management  alliances  artificial intelligence  Bruce Anderson  Dave Luvison  drive alignment  Growth IQ  IBM  leadership IQ  Loyola University Maryland  partnering alliance  partners  strategy  Tiffani Bova 

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The Modeling and Management of Alliances: Workshop Takes Deep Dive into Three Models for Collaborative Business

Posted By Noel B. Richards, Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A preconference workshop delving into three different alliance models caught the attention of over a dozen pre-conference attendees at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Co-facilitators Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Dave Luvison, CSAP, PhD, Loyola University Maryland, instructed on the horizontal “sharing” model, the diagonal “specialization” model, and the vertical “allocation” model in the session “Building Your Collaborative Business Model.”

The two discussed how the sharing model is an alliance focused on sharing customers and information in order to generate more revenue for each partner, typically with a 50-50 split of this revenue. The specialization model is more about leveraging certain strengths or unique skills of each partner so that each can gain something they did not have before, resulting in the ability to increase revenue with new or improved products. Lastly, the allocation model works to reduce risk by delegating tasks that are a weakness for one company to a partner that expresses excellence in that specific area.

Once the co-facilitators established a baseline understanding of these alliance models, best management practices for each model and the hybridizations between them became apparent. “The bigger question is how you should manage these models, as not every model should be managed the same way,” Luvison pointed out.

The workshop co-facilitators also instructed on how to determine which specific framework is right for your alliance, based on the goals and purpose. The specific models are incredibly fluidconstantly moving, changing, and molding to specific needs, they said. Luvison and De Man then brought up the three things that need management across the boardincentives, relationships, and accountability. Additionally, they shared the idea that 70 percent to 80 percent of the problem in alliances is convincing people internal to the company rather than the partner.

After examining various methods of managing each type of alliance model, they encouraged the audience to split into groups and discuss best management practices. Though these practices may differ across alliance types, all group participants agreed upon the importance of consistent, fluid, and open communication among partner.

Also central to the discussion: as models adjust and change over the lifespan of the alliance, it is critically important that the alliance ensure that the partners are aligned and “on the same page.” Recognizing the scope and scale of each partnership and communicating about the alliance with the appropriate groups of people, notably the C-suite, is also fundamental to success. If one partner sees the alliance following a sharing model while the other recognizes it more as an allocation model, problems will arise. Ensuring and maintaining a mutual understanding of what model the alliance takes is vitally important.

“You’re half the battle. Getting your own organization on board with the alliance is quite important, so do this first, then get the partner on board,” said Luvison.

Once there is a clear mutual understanding of the model the alliance is founded upon, partners must turn inward and ensure consistency understanding within the company. This helps empower teams to deal with issues as they arise, they concluded. Though there are additional complexities in managing each model an alliance assumes, if self-awareness and open communication is pursued, the alliance and the companies involved will benefit across the board.

Noel B. Richards is a staff writer for ASAP Media. Stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive on-site coverage of 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit sessions on this blog, and in the weekly, monthly, and quarterly Strategic Alliance publications. 

Tags:  alliance  alliance model  allocation model  Ard-Pieter de Man  Dave Luvison  Loyola University Maryland  partner  sharing model  specialization  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 

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