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Q2 Strategic Alliance Quarterly Examines How Alliance Teams Are Handling COVID-19 | ASAP Members Discuss What Is and Isn’t Working in Self-Isolation in Latest Cover Story

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Monday, May 11, 2020

When COVID-19 forced us here in the United States into self-isolation in mid-March, we at ASAP’s editorial operation were finalizing our pre-planned in-depth features for the Q2 2020 edition of Strategic Alliance Quarterly, due to hit ASAP member mailboxes in May. Were we to wait until the Q3 issue to tackle the effect the coronavirus is having on alliance members, their teams, and the partnerships they steer, our readership wouldn’t have been able to see how their peers are coping with this situation until September, by which time we hope it will be old news to at least some degree—and, fingers crossed, that it will be safe to relax some of the current restrictions.

To use an American football metaphor, we had to call an audible with the play clock running down if we were to address the most pressing issue facing all of us in due time. In early April, we dispatched a message to alliance leaders asking the following questions:

  1. What are some job functions/tasks in managing staff or partnerships that used to be in-person which you are having to modify or change?
  2. Are there things you simply cannot do, have had to postpone, or had to figure out another way to make happen, e.g., launch meetings?
  3. How are you managing your team? Are there some new tools or modifications of existing ones that your team is working with now?
  4. How are you employing best practices to advance your alliance goals remotely? To ensure ongoing governance?
  5. Are there elements of what you’re doing or of business and work in general that you think may change even after the current crisis recedes?
  6. Looking back now, are there processes that you wish you had in place that would have made what you are doing now easier?

The responses we received via email and follow-up phone conversations revealed an alliance community coping as best they can, finding silver linings, and making the best of the tools at their disposal and a situation they can’t control. To be sure, there were struggles, challenges, and obstacles that may not be overcome until we have fully conquered this pandemic, but by and large, alliance professionals are soldiering through upheaval and uncertainty in a way only they know how.

Unique IP: The Vital Organ Helping Alliances Survive

Laura Fletcher, associate director of strategic alliances at Cancer Research UK, was one of those who recounted to us how social distancing measures have reaffirmed some of Cancer Research UK’s alliances’ indelible strengths. 

“We have access to intellectual property of leading academics through the relationships that Cancer Research UK has as a grant funder, so the model of bringing multiple academic collaborators together with a commercial partner is not very easily replicated,” she said. “That also means that if the partnerships you build are unique, they can’t be easily replicated with another partner. So that gives us a good foundation for working through this with our alliance partners. We all have the motivation to get through it and continue these alliances on the other side.”

Governance: A Beacon Keeping Alliances on Course Through the Fog

Fletcher’s colleague Elaine Anderson, CSAP, strategic alliance executive for Cancer Research UK’s commercial partnerships, noted how careful thought and planning put into the creation of governance clauses long before COVID-19 ravaged the globe has created a framework that has helped organize critical partnerships and keep them from veering off course.

“If there are decisions to be made, then the decision-making process is clear and everyone understands,” she explained. “Fortunately, when we’ve looked back, we have all those clauses and that has proven to be something useful —just to be very clear on the processes that need to be followed but also to have flexibility, not being very rigid, if things need to be changed.”

These insights from Fletcher and Anderson didn’t make the 3,400-word print-edition feature that ASAP members will enjoy this month—as has been our custom since the founding of ASAP’s editorial operation, we like to give you teasers of what’s to come in our quarterly issue. In our forthcoming cover story, readers will discover:

  • Which elements of the current virtual workplace setup some members feel will become a permanent part of our work culture when this pandemic is in the rearview mirror,
  •  Best guesses at when we might return to some semblance of normal,
  • How teams are recreating the social element that has been lost since we were forbidden to meet with colleagues in person,
  • What alliance work has carried on during the shelter-in-place period, and
  • The initiatives that had to be tabled indefinitely thanks to these drastic public-health protection measures.

After all, we at ASAP’s editorial arm are shifting on the fly like you are, but we too are finding ways to use the latest technological tools to keep bringing you the knowledge you need to stay ahead in your career. We hope our Q2 cover story “Partnering in a Pandemic” provides wisdom, information, and some comfort to help you, too, make it through these unprecedented circumstances. 

Tags:  alliances  Cancer Research UK  commercial partnerships  COVID-19  Elaine Anderson  governance  Laura Fletcher  Partnering  partnerships  strategic alliance  unique IP 

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A Message to Our ASAP Member Community

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Saturday, April 4, 2020

The global health crisis involving COVID-19 has forced all of us to change how and where we’re working, how we’re living, where we’re going (or not going), and so much more. Our hearts go out to all those whose health has been affected by this crisis, or who have loved ones they care about who are vulnerable. And we gratefully acknowledge and thank all the brave healthcare workers and others who are on the front lines of this disease, bravely exposing themselves to it as they try to save lives. Many ASAP members, too, are part of organizations that are working to produce vaccines, treatments, and vital medical equipment that can help in the fight against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, we’re very aware that across the globe, the way business is getting done looks very different right now. Like many organizations large and small, the ASAP team is working remotely and adjusting to this new reality. However, we’re still here for you! We’re working hard to put together great content for our member community and to bring it directly to you virtually. Here are just a few of the things we’re working on:

  • We’re continuing to develop quality alliance management virtual learning opportunities to go out to you as part of our series of ASAP Netcast Webinars.
  • We’re bringing you regular updates and digests of partnering news via our Strategic Alliance Weekly and Monthly emails.
  • Our ASAP blog and ASAP newsfeed remain ongoing vehicles to provide you with partnering and alliance news and insights, outtakes from our magazine articles, and more.
  • Speaking of our magazine, Strategic Alliance Quarterly is alive and well! The Q2 issue is in the works and planning has already begun for Q3 and beyond.
  • Although a number of ASAP chapter events have had to be postponed, we’re working with our chapter leaders and members to get them rescheduled—so stay tuned!
  • Planning has already begun for the popular ASAP BioPharma Conference to be held in September—with the call for presentations now open through May 1.
  • Last but not least, we’re working toward providing a high-quality, content-rich ASAP Global Alliance Summit in late June.

Like you, we’re continuing to do our jobs as best we can under these extraordinary circumstances, and we’re working every day to provide content that matters to our wonderful ASAP community. If there is anything we can do to help you and your teams during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to our ASAP staff.

And above all, thank you! Thank you for being a member of our ASAP community. Our collective strength lies within all those engaged in the alliance and partnering world of which you are a vital part. Together, we’ll get through this!

Tags:  alliance management  ASAP BioPharma Conference  ASAP blog  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  ASAP Netcast Webinars  ASAP newsfeed  COVID-19  member community  Partnering  produce vaccines  Strategic Alliance Quarterly  Strategic Alliance Weekly  treatments  virtual learning  virtually  vital medical equipment 

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The Perfect Storm Meets the Perfect Ship: The Changing Face of Partnering in Tech and Biopharma

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, October 30, 2019

In most industries, change is now so rapid that we often have trouble seeing through the fog of day-to-day demands in front of us. The effects we experience, react to, and feel most keenly may be local—our jobs, our companies, our partners, our industries—but the bigger picture behind it is global, and the frequent wind shifts of global trade, the interconnected worldwide economy, and changing consumer and customer behavior cannot always be foreseen. Instead of being able to ride out the proverbial “calm before the storm,” we have to navigate our way through a series of storms, each one seemingly more disruptive than the next.

            This is certainly no less true in the fields of biopharma and technology partnering, two industries from which so many of our ASAP members hail.

            The technology sector is still undergoing a transition from traditional channel management to ecosystem management, from multipartner alliances and channels to ecosystems of hundreds of partners at various levels—all very challenging to keep tabs on, much less manage and oversee. Go-to-market efforts that formerly might have involved just two or three companies may now be mounted by 10 or 15 ecosystem partners—or more—leveraging their strengths and customer knowledge to sell solutions together.

            The sea change is happening in biopharma as well. The space has seen increasing partnerships between technology and biopharma companies, like those involving digital therapeutics startups, service providers, diagnostic companies, and even ecosystem-like multipartner deep engagements—all as pharma companies must still maintain their excellence in asset-based product partnerships in order to remain competitive.

            Even the language can get confusing. Alliances? Partnerships? Relationships? Ecosystems? We’ve heard from some who say they “don’t do alliances—it’s just partnering now.” Others may prefer the term alliances to partnerships from a legal or perhaps philosophical standpoint. Still others put the emphasis on ecosystems as the direction everything is heading.

            What’s going on? How to make sense of these shifting winds and rolling waves of disruption? Is there a perfect ship that can make way through the perfect storm?

The passage through these choppy seas is not always clear, but I believe the ASAP community—our “ship,” if you will—is perfectly positioned to illuminate the fog, avoid the icebergs, and take advantage of the opportunities provided amid all these developments. Here’s why:

  • Throughout its two-decade-plus history, ASAP has been driven by its mission to collect and promote the best partnering practices of both biopharma and tech companies, along with other industries that utilize partnering to create value.
  • Early on, ASAP predicted and began to prepare its members for frequent, if not routine, partnerships between health care/biopharma and tech companies.
  • We know that complex ecosystems and multipartner relationships require modified, agile best practices to be successful. ASAP has long been working tirelessly to provide solid education and actionable guidance in these areas.
  • We now have the opportunity to take advantage of the partnering skills as defined in The ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management and supplement these learnings with other informative insights that continue to be unveiled throughout all of ASAP’s media and publications—including Strategic Alliance Quarterly, Strategic Alliance Monthly and Weekly, and ASAP Netcast Webinars.
  • Finally, there’s the unparalleled access to education and networking provided by ASAP conferences and other events, such as the upcoming European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam (Nov. 14–15) and the Global Alliance Summit in Tampa (Mar. 16–18, 2020).

It’s all there and yours for the taking. Want to get on board with the latest partnering practices in the technology and health care/biopharma industries? Look no further than this seriously skilled community of practitioners—“our ship.” Together, we’re setting a course for the future of alliances and partnering.

Tags:  Alliance  biopharma  channels  collaboration  diagnostic companies  ecosystems  Go-to-market  health care  multipartner alliances  partner  partnering  service providers  technology  therapeutics startups 

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Covey Got It Just Right: ‘Sharpen Your Saw’ in 2019—Because the Faster Partnering Moves, the More Learning and Professional Development Matters

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Saturday, March 9, 2019

We recently did some research into ASAP’s Certified Strategic Alliance Professionals. Going back to 2010, we found that fully 90 percent of CSAPs—nine out of every 10 recipients—remain active members in the association. That tells me that that CSAPs are leaders who think seriously about our profession, who want to ensure this is an enduring profession, and who can do the hard, heavy lifting it takes to be at the top of their game.

In other words, our CSAPs are still reinvesting, following the late Stephen Covey’s advice: “We must never be too busy to take time to ‘Sharpen the Saw.’”

Covey’s seventh habit of highly effective people borrows from ancient wisdom traditions as well as modern insight into the importance of renewal. It reminds us to take regular breaks in our personal lives, and to periodically re-sharpen the skills and knowledge that keep us on the forefront of our profession. This essential saw-sharpening only happens when we engage deeply in the alliance management community and participate in its events.

Just how sharp does the learning get? Check out our Strategic Alliance publications’ coverage of the November 8-9, 2018 ASAP European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam—and join me in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the March 11-13, 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystems.”

Both of these international events exemplify how our community collectively sharpens the saw—how we continually reflect, reexamine, and renew the content of our learning. ASAP events are an eye-popping confluence of brilliant and diverse people—typically a 50/50 mix of ASAP veterans and newcomers. Our content gets richer and more nuanced with every conference as it updates tried-and-true alliance management fundamentals with the bleeding edge of practice.

The alliance lifecycle—as presented in the ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management: A Practitioner’s Guideremains very relevant “blocking and tackling.” But—as we push across industry boundaries and into ecosystem partnering, agile practices, organizational collaborative capability, and even partnering process automation—it’s obvious that so many things around the alliance lifecycle must be agile. One partnership may skip lifecycle steps two, three, and four; another alliance might start at one, continue through three, and then go to market.

We’ve talked for years about partnering going beyond alliance management. Now we’re in the “perfect storm” as the partnering everywhere model comes to life. Ecosystem partnering is everywhere—in technology, in life sciences, even in jewelry, where open innovation networks fuel innovation for Swarovski, as I learned last fall in Amsterdam. Classic channel partnerships are in decline, cloud partnerships are accelerating, and the whole field of partnering is getting much larger, much more complex.

Look at digital therapeutics—I’ve been predicting at ASAP conferences that IT companies would be the healthcare partners of the future. Now we have life science member companies partnering with big data and analytics and launching therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that are primarily software based, while tech companies’ business models evolve to be able to deliver safe, reliable healthcare-related services. In telecom, 5G speeds will create new networks and mobile capabilities that we’ve never seen before—requiring partners we’ve never seen before. And artificial intelligence—what organizations and processes will become our partners in the future because of the advances of AI, and how will that again change the complexity of our alliances? 

Amidst this perfect storm, ASAP is a perfect conduit for everyone who leads collaborations to learn how to do it better and evolve “the how” every day in practice. So sharpen your saw. Invest in your community through ASAP, and invest in yourself through ASAP’s professional development events and publications.

Stephen Covey got it just right: “‘Sharpen the Saw’ means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you.”

Visit http://asapsummit.org for the most up-to-date agenda for March 11-13, 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, and register for the event, at. See the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive before, during, and after coverage of the 2019 Summit in Strategic Alliance publications and on the ASAP blog. 

Michael Leonetti, CSAP, is president and CEO of ASAP and executive publisher of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance publications. A previous version of this article appeared in Q1 2019 Strategic Alliance Quarterly

Tags:  5G  agile practices  alliance lifecycle  alliance management  artificial intelligence  ecosystem partnering  healthcare-related services  mobile  organizational collaborative  Partnering  Professional Development  telecom 

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Closing the C-Suite's Collaboration Gap

Posted By Contributed by Jan Twombly, CSAP & Jeff Shuman, CSAP, PhD | The Rhythm of Business, Thursday, January 24, 2019

Earlier this month, we presented and recorded a webinar to expand upon our mini e-book that we wrote together with our partner Alliancesphere, Own Your Transformation: A Five-Point Agenda for Creating Your Organization’s Collaborative Leadership System. The key message of the presentation is to urge alliance professionals to take charge of closing the gap between the happy talk about the importance of partnering and the actual ability of organizations to collaborate and partner well in a digital world.

Yes, this is our soap box and it has been for many years. The difference today is all the data reporting C-Suite executives really do believe partnering is important and a core pillar of their growth and transformation strategies. They also think their organizations collaborate and partner effectively. Their employees disagree. Take a look at some data from a recent Capgemini study.[1]   

We’ve witnessed this gap in our work for years and years. For example, in a recent project assessing the current state of an alliance management practice and charting a course for its future, a senior executive told us how important alliances were to the future of the business. We then interviewed one of his senior people ostensibly responsible for an important partner. He told us he’d had only a one-hour call to familiarize himself with the role of an alliance director. No surprise, he didn’t think this was sufficient to allow him to be successful in the role. This may be an extreme case, but it illustrates the gap that exists between the belief that alliances and partnering are critical for growth and the failure to recognize that a system of collaborative leadership must become part of the organization’s culture and operating norms. It is an Achille’s heel of business transformation.

Here’s another example: A company that is remaking themselves to focus strictly on downstream go-to-market activities has outsourced all upstream research and development capabilities except project management to oversee the outsourced service providers. Outsourcing a capability is not about managing a series of projects. It is engaging with third parties to build collaborative relationships that leverage the resources of each party for mutual benefit—to achieve a synergistic relationship where 1+1>3. In other words, the reason for—the essence of— partnership.  

During the webinar, we discussed our five-point agenda for creating a collaborative leadership system that starts with owning your own transformation. You can’t expect to drive change in your organization without demonstrating how you’re changing. Every alliance professional has something in their job description and potentially in their goals and accountabilities, to “create an environment for collaboration with alliance partners,” or something similar. Specifically executing on this piece of the job has always taken a back seat to immediate revenue generation or ensuring a co-development project happens smoothly. No longer. Today—when partnering everywhere in an organization is the recipe for growth—creating that environment becomes an essential part of the job. The collaborative leadership system—the mechanism through which leadership is exercised—is what enables it.

Closing the gap between the partnering and collaboration capability CEOs think their companies have and what they actually have is essential to the digital business transformation powering growth for legacy companies and a core capability for entrepreneurial ventures. Alliance professionals are typically part of the powerful middle of the organization—the Rosetta Stone of the organization—translating senior leadership directives into operational objectives and understanding from the field and other customer-facing personnel the successes and challenges at an execution level, scaling or adjusting accordingly.  Who other than alliance professionals should be leading the charge to close the gap between what CEOs think about their organization’s ability to collaborate and the reality?

[1] Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, “The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap,” 2018 

Tags:  alliance management  collaboration  collaborative leadership system  digital culture  digital transformation  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  partnering  The Rhythm of Business 

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