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A Lesson From the Whiz Kids: Change and Teams— ‘An Inevitable Combination’

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, July 22, 2019

My father, who recently passed away, worked for Ford Motor Company in its heyday. A 1950  graduate of Harvard Business School and a former Marine in World War II and the Korean War, he started working at  Ford in 1953 and eventually worked under Ford President Robert McNamara, who later became the longest-serving secretary of defense in United States history under Presidents  John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

 

Ford Motor Company was losing millions in the post-  WWII era, but turned a corner through innovative production and management. Seeking new ways to succeed in a time of rapid change (sound familiar?), the company engaged in a unique partnership with a group of United States Air Force officers. Ford would provide the young men just out of the military with jobs and, in turn, the former officers would revamp the company. Disparagingly dubbed the “Quiz Kids” by fellow employees for their youthful questioning, they renamed themselves the “Whiz Kids.” As a manager in finance, production programming, sales, marketing, personnel, and technical and transportation operations, my father worked under their guidance to help reorganize Ford’s financial framework, redefine corporate culture, and contribute to automotive innovation.

 

After my father’s memorial service, I pored over the books in his library. You can tell a lot about a person from the books he or she reads. Based on the collective mix, he pursued self-education to the end, especially in the areas of business, history, leadership—and the art of fly fishing. The mix included tomes such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit and Nigel Hamilton’s The Mantle of Command. But what really caught my eye was an unassuming slip of a book: The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High–Performance Organization, by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, Harvard Business School Press, 1993. As I paged through, I found only one sentence in the entire book underlined. In the chapter “Teams and Major Change: An Inevitable Combination,” the final sentence on Page 211 was highlighted: “It is no accident, then, that every single major change effort we know about has depended on teams.”

 

Through landmark business reconstruction and major wars my father had significant life experience leading and participating in successful teams. He must have come away from those experiences with an understanding of how major change is conjoined with well-organized teamwork. At age 93, the concept of digital transformation was a mystery to him, but the strategy necessary for such radical transformation was very familiar: Major change requires visionary leadership, well-orchestrated collaboration, and flexible innovation.

 

History can teach us a lot about successful collaboration. That connection came through at a ASAP BioPharma Conference in a session on “Alliance Management  Learnings from Great Leaders,” led by Harm-Jan Borgeld, head of alliance management at Merck KGaA;  David Thompson, CSAP, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company; Steven Twait, CSAP, vice president, alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca. The three alliance professionals probed questions about the “Big Three” WWII alliance led by Winston Churchill,  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin—and how history’s lessons learned relate to today’s strategic alliances.

 

When designed and executed well, alliances can resolve conflict, innovate solutions, win wars, and rejuvenate flagging companies. Collaboration can even streamline services in the public sector and define the  workplace cultures of successful 21st century companies like Jazz Pharmaceuticals. For my father’s generation and for ours, it still comes down to inspired leaders and engaged executives who grapple with change by fostering a culture of teamwork and collaboration— and embrace partners along their journey forward. My dad would recognize this approach as “an inevitable combination.” 

Tags:  Alliances  AstraZeneca  Collaboration  David Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  Harm-Jan Borgeld  Innovation  Jazz Pharmaceuticals  Merck KGaA  Steve Twait 

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Leaders ‘in a Time of Rapid Growth and Change’: Finalists for Announced for 2019 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards

Posted By Noel B. Richards, Friday, February 15, 2019

Finalists Include Alcon Laboratories, Science Applications International Corporation, Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (subsidiary of Akebia Therapeutics), Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cambridge Assessment English, Novartis, Incyte, Sanofi Pasteur, and Red Hat 

ASAP will honor companies and organizations, practices, and programs that exemplify exceptional performance in alliance management during the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards ceremony at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, which runs March 11-13 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This month, ASAP announced the companies that are 2019 Alliance Excellence Awards finalists: Alcon Laboratories, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (now a subsidiary of Akebia Therapeutics), Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cambridge Assessment English, Novartis, Incyte, Sanofi Pasteur, and Red Hat. See the official press release issued via PRWeb.

“This remarkable group of companies has demonstrated significant leadership in alliance management during a time of rapid growth and change for business—and for the partnering profession,” said Michael Leonetti, president & CEO of ASAP. “Our awards committee reviewed a number of outstanding nominees from diverse industries this year, and we’re pleased to recognize these exceptional partners and programs whose success stories and practices can serve as models for the alliance management community.”

Alcon Laboratories’ alliance program contains a complete set of fully documented best practices supported by information technology tools. With a small alliance group, they manage many partners through consistency applying these practices and tools.

 

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has developed an alliance program covers not only the “hard” alliance elements, but also pays attention to the “softer” rules of the game, resulting in substantial contribution to revenues as well as recognition from partners. Partner tiering is consistently worked out across the strategic, financial, and relational elements of business.

 

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (now a subsidiary of Akebia Therapeutics) and Thermo Fisher Scientific collaborated to resolve supply constraints to ensure that patients were able to access Keryx’s proprietary drug through agility and excellent teamwork at all levels of operation.

 

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany–Bristol-Myers Squibb’s alliance has operated with financial transparency and consistent best practices since its formation in China in the 1990s, a time when the Chinese market was much less accessible.

 

Novartis–Incyte’s decade-long collaboration covers the co-marketing and co-development of an oncology drug in split geographical areas. The alliance has applied best practices across the alliance lifecycle, and led the way for a foundation for a broader alliance mindset in the respective organizations.


Merck & Co. and Sanofi Pasteur built a joint venture for a new drug utilizing a governance model inspired by small, nimble biotech companies to ensure speed and flexibility. The commercialization phase of the new drug so far is very successful.

 

Red Hat completely revamped an alliance training program for its alliance and channel managers, providing a clear learning path for everyone with several checkpoints and feedback options that support managers in their learning. The alliance program has leveraged e-learning and digitization, supported by well-designed management processes.

Cambridge Assessment English teamed up with Future Learn and Crisis Classroom to deliver an online training program for volunteers who help refugees meet refugee needs by focusing on language support. Volunteers (8,000 thus far have signed up) are able to exchange their experience in addition to accessing formal learning modules.

 

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany developed its Joint Committee Self-Assessment tool after alliance surveys showed that decision-making in the organization’s alliances were too slow. This easily implemented tool helps committees improve their decision making has become standard in the Merck alliance toolkit.

Read the complete press release on PRWeb at http://www.prweb.com/releases/finalists_for_announced_for_2019_asap_alliance_excellence_awards/prweb16099885.htm. Stay tuned for much more coverage of the 2019 finalists and the stories behind their successes on this blog and in Strategic Alliance Quarterly and Monthly magazines.

Tags:  Akebia  Alcon  alliance  ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  best practices  Bristol-Myers Squibb  Cambridge Assessment English  governance  Incyte  Keryx Biopharmaceuticals  Merck & Co.  Merck KGaA  Novartis  Red Hat  Sanofi Pasteur  Science Applications International Corporation  Thermo Fisher Scientific  toolkit 

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How Merck and Pfizer Build Alignment and Navigate Complexity: A Transformative Alliance on a Journey of Oncological Discovery

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, September 21, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

There were some cultural differences to overcome when in 2014 pharmaceutical company Pfizer joined forces with biopharma company Merck, selling its sharing rights to develop an experimental immunotherapy drug to accelerate progress against some of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. The alliance paired an American behemoth, Pfizer, founded in 1849 in Brooklyn, New York, with Merck, a German-based multinational corporation, founded in 1668 (no typo).

 

 To drive alignment in their complex partnership, Pfizer and Merck utilize a “divide-and-conquer” approach, as explained by two of the companies’ alliance leaders during a session at the March 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Discussing their experiences “Navigating and Effectively Managing Complex Alliances between Large Biotech/Pharma Organizations,” Judy Baselice, Pfizer’s director alliance management, and Brian N. Stewart, CA-AM, director alliance management at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, described how the Merck-Pfizer partnership uses five main tools for keeping the alliance on the same page.

  • Divide and conquer – Six alliance managers with divide and conquer responsibilities with different alliance committees, working groups, and other activities.
  • Distribute monthly dashboards – Capture everything from development and commercial activities to changes in manufacturing, medical affairs, and a snapshot of competitors; distributed to everyone from senior leadership to project management, so everyone knows what’s going on.
  • Invest in coordination and jointly chair meetings – What are the issues and activities and what’s coming up next? Discuss what was agreed to coming out of the gate.
  • Use available technologies – Exchange information from a review of clinical development to the use of federated calendars (meaning you type in a name and availability shows up).
  • Refer to guidance included in the contract – these are your guidelines for final decisions.

The matrix of what the alliance looks like includes co-administrated studies, co-promotion and co-commercialization agreements, a dedicated alliance management team, reports and global marketing with the alliance general manager, as well as target goals for external partnering. Management tools include a SharePoint site, calendars with a pull-out archive section, and regional groups, all of which added to the complexity of the alliance. Of course, what they needed when they launched was to recruit patients, to get the study readouts, and to receive notifications when there were significant changes.

 

External alliances that were outside of the core alliance involved collaboration agreements. Each involved incremental complexity—three- to four-way agreements, extended research and collaboration agreements within the compound, as well as assets that the teams did due diligence on. There were also alliance and third-party signed agreements to move forward, along with standalone agreements not part of other overall agreements.

 

“These separate agreements add additional layers of complexity with each deal we do,” Baselice stated. “Not every one of these partnerships will look alike. We also declined opportunities and had to determine which molecules were not ready based on a need for additional data.”

 

“We co-funded funded fifty percent of each trial as well as each organization’s legal team review of IP clauses. It can take six to 12 months per project,” Stewart added. “Also, we needed to educate both companies on what to do and what’s at risk which involved the future of our alliance in some respects. Effectively managing the alliance matrix is a matter of life or death for some.”

 

“The important thing is to keep everyone updated,” Baselice said. “It was important to be consistent and to avoid confusion. We needed teams to feel there was no need to horde data. We stressed openness and transparency. We have nothing to hide and the goal is to move it forward, share info and foster the attitude that everyone is there for the project. Of course, there are some things Pfizer can do that Merck can’t and vice versa. For example, Merck can go into countries Pfizer can’t, like Iran.”

 

Read more about the Merck-Pfizer partnership and insights into how the two companies’ partnering leaders manage their complex alliance in the August 2018 issue of eSAM Plus.  

Tags:  agreements  alliance  Brian N. Stewart  co-commercialization agreements  collaboration agreements  Complex Alliances  dashboards  due dillegence  External alliances  Judy Baselice  Large Biotech/Pharma Organizations  Merck KGaA  Pfizer  third-party signed agreements 

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ASAP Announces 2018 Alliance Excellence Awards Finalists—and the List Is Worth a View

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, January 29, 2018

ASAP officially announced (see http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/01/prweb15131526.htm) this year’s finalists for the annual ASAP Global Alliance Excellence Awards, and the contributions of companies on the list are substantial—from unusual alliance key performance indicators (KPIs), to programs for crisis management, to collaborations to create social good, to consolidation of alliance data that provides visibility across the organization. The list goes on and on.

Nine candidates will vie for awards in four different categories: Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility; Alliance Program Excellence; Individual Alliance Excellence; Innovative Best Alliance Practice. Winners will be announced March 27 during an end-of-day awards ceremony at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” to be held March 26-28 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

The 2018 awards finalists that were singled out for their exceptional leadership and contributions are:

Amgen for a biopharma alliance program recognized for being founded on the three pillars of building a strong foundation with clear roles and alignment of strategic objectives and value drivers through a partnership; ensuring best practice execution on every alliance through an alliance kickoff and playbook; optimizing oversight of Amgen’s alliance portfolio.

Cisco-Dimension Data for their 25-year celebration of alliance success, a milestone that prompted them to kick off 25 projects focused on creating social good, ultimately resulting in a record year for the partnership.

Dassault Systèmes for putting together an effective social video marketing campaign to build awareness and spark interest among customers. The extent to which Dassault has embedded social video marketing into its partner program and scaled it across its technology alliance community is unusual, innovative, and engaging.

JDA for re-architecting its partner program in response to new market opportunities and a shift in customer demand for solutions in the cloud. The Partner Advantage Program launched in April 2017, employing many best practices of modern partner ecosystems.

Medimmune for an alliance information management system and dashboard reporting tools that enable widespread visibility of alliance performance in near-real time, including consolidation of alliance data that provides visibility across the organization.

Merck KGaA for collecting and managing some unusual alliance KPIs for value creation, risk mitigation, and problem solving, resulting in multiple improvements on several levels.

MSD–Julphar for forming the DUNES alliance to serve seven therapeutic areas for six countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, a problematic area of the world for business development. Through the introduction of alliance management tools, processes, and training, the companies created sustainable businesses.

Pierre Fabre for successfully deploying SharePoint Alliance Management, which unifies how alliances are managed by providing common alliance management tools to more than 400 people; implementing tools that can be shared with partners; facilitating onboarding of new team members.

Shire for introducing a new best practice for partner crisis management, a unique approach for managing stakeholders through a crisis situation. Originally developed to help navigate a merger, it has since been tested and validated across several crisis situations.

2018 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards finalists will be honored—and the winners announced—at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” to be held March 26-28 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Learn more and register to attend at http://asapsummit.org/.  Read ASAP’s January 25, 2018 official announcement at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/01/prweb15131526.htm

Tags:  2018 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Finalists  alliance  alliance data  best practices  Cisco-Dimension Data  collaborations  crisis management  Dassault Systèmes  JDA  Medimmune  Merck KGaA  MSD–Julphar  Pierre Fabre  SharePoint Alliance Management  Shire  social good 

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Learning How to Choose the Best Options and Moves When Negotiating the Alliance Management Playing Field

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Assessing strategic options is at the heart of alliance management practice, especially in the negotiation processes. Game theory is the science of strategic decision-making, helping to streamline areas such as internal alignment meetings, steering committees, and alliance sub-committees. A new game theory workshop debuted front-and-center at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes” at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. on Sept. 13. “Strategic Decision Making & Negotiations: Learnings from Game Theory and AM Practice,” facilitated by Harm-Jan Borgeld, CSAP, and head of alliance management for Merck KGaA, and Stefanie Schubert, professor of economics at SRH University Heidelberg, guided participants through the playing field of game theory, providing insights on the speed and quality of decision-making practices. I spoke with the facilitators after the workshop about this fascinating topic and the practical applications for game theory.

 Stefanie: Game theory can be applied to any kind of situation. The basic idea of game theory is that you try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and figure out what they will do before you make your own decision. It helps you find the optimal decision. It requires that you think about the player—the people who have to make a decision—possible strategies, and assess possible outcomes.

Harm-Jan: Game theory helps you understand how people think. In our workshop, we used game theory to enhance the decision-making, negotiating, and influencing skills of the alliance manager. It also teaches how to prepare for a negotiation and facilitates discussions on out-of-the-box thinking.

Stefanie: Influencing benefits from creativity. There are plenty of uncreative ways to influence, such as signing a contract or delegating. But why not be creative? The workshop uses lots of real-life cases, games, and exercises. For example, we use a simple negotiation game where two participants share a real cake. One player divides the cake; the other accepts or does not accept the division. If it’s a cake, it’s common to split it down the middle. But if it’s money, a company will not do it. Game theory takes the position that everyone loves the cake and wants the biggest piece, and it is strategic to offer only a small piece.  We use this game to discuss how to leverage negotiation power and discuss alternatives for optimal decisions.

Harm-Jan:  The workshop is practical and uses video clips and exercises as teaching tools.  We want participants to be able to use what they learn tomorrow. The cake actually is an analogy for dividing [assets]. It helps you understand how the other person makes decisions and prepares for disagreements. We also talked about how to build trust. There are certain ways to establish trust. One way is to always do what you say: Be predictable, engaged, and treat opponents as equals, and not engage senior management without agreeing beforehand. Most trust is created [and maintained] if not broken.

Stefanie:  When applying game theory, you need to simplify. It’s an analytical framework: If you have to make a decision, the outcome depends on the action of someone else. Central to game theory is the question: What is optimal for me to do if the outcome depends on the other party’s action? And it works in every culture or environment. 

Tags:  alliance management  alliance manager  alliance managers  decision-making  decision-making practices  engage  Game theory  Harm-Jan Borgeld  influencing skills  Merck KGaA  negotiating  outcomes  SRH University Heidelberg  Stefanie Schubert  strategies 

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