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On the Cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, How Agile is Your Alliance?

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017

Being brittle during a time of industry change can break a fragile allianceand even a business. Agility is key to surviving disruption, especially when a major shift is taking place to a new industrial age. Find out how your company can adapt and weather the change at the session “Agile Alliances: Catalyst for the Next Industrial Age,” as part of the 2017 Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. USA. The session will be moderated by Ann E. Trampas, CSAP, of the University of Illinois—Chicago, with panelists Anthony DeSpirito, CSAP, Schneider Electrics; Gaye Clemson, Globalinkage Consulting; Michael Young, Klick Health; Philip Sack, CSAP, Asia Collaborative Business Community. Sack provided these insights into the session during a recent interview.

How should companies prepare for the fourth industrial revolution with the increase in multi-partnering?

If we accept that the external drivers of global change are going to continue challenging organizationsslow economic growth, digital disruption, globalization, geopolitical uncertainty, speed of change, new nimble competitors, etc.then there is great pressure on organizations to become more agile, innovate, and continually adapt and change. However, this requires additional strategic thinking from previous approaches of value-chain efficiencies, market regulations (barriers to entry), improving costs management, and competitive positioning (differentiation). Success now requires greater thinking about how to continue driving new innovations, customer centricity (creating value), enhancing collaboration (external, internal), and new or adjacent market positions while simultaneously improving performance. That is no mean feat!

Why is it essential for partnerships to become more agilefaster, lighter, more flexible?

There is an increasing appetite for organizations to engage in more strategic collaboration and alliance partnerships, in part driven by the global changes affecting many organizations. Managed effectively, with appropriate support and investment, these relationships assist organizations to enhance their agility, market responsiveness, and new innovation efforts. Many organizations are looking at their strategic partners and networks of partners as a faster way of achieving these objectives rather than typical M&A (buying), or organic internal development (building). This “need to speed” implies that new collaborations and alliances focus on quickly assembling and disassembling around customer/market requirements, delivering rapid prototyping and development capabilities, and operating comfortably within complex and ambiguous situations.

How can alliance managers make their collaborations more agile and successful?

A good place to start would be to review existing collaborations and strategic alliances and how they support achieving these objectives, i.e., new innovations, co-creation capability, improving customer centricity, new products and service solutions, and incremental go-to-market approaches. This open dialogue provides an opportunity to review the original focus and strategic intent of the alliance, what is now required, and where the next evolution of the relationship needs to take place. However creating new alliance relationships that support these new strategic imperatives will involve taking a slightly different approach. Given that these strategic imperatives address significant challenges facing the organization, a firm-wide approach is required for success. The alliance management function has a natural orientation towards strategy, firm-wide thinking, facilitation, collaboration, and ecosystem orchestration. Hence, it should be in the perfect position to lead efforts to create cross-functional teams that would focus on creating, supporting, and delivering to these imperatives. These teams would include members from executive, strategy, research and development, marketing, and human resources and have a strong focus on entrepreneurial action and creation—in effect, a start-up way of thinking within the organization.

 
Is there anything specific to Asia that you think readers might want to know to improve their alliances with Asian companies?

Similar large-scale issues and challenges are being addressed by organizations across Asia as they are worldwide. Engaging within this area is quite exciting and challenging and should be done in a considered and measured approach. There certainly is a strong emphasis on relationships, a natural entrepreneurial spirit, and orientation to deal making. This requires addressing opportunities and making alliances aware of the various local and cultural contexts. This often takes quite some time to evolve. The key message is to do some research, find some local support, and be patient.

Tags:  alliance  alliance partnerships  Ann E. Trampas  Anthony DeSpirito  collaborations  cross-functional teams  cultural  ecosystem orchestration  Gaye Clemson  innovation  Michael Young  network  partners  Philip Sack 

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New Interactive Summit Session Allows Participants to “Spin the Globe” for Intensive Study of Regional Cultures Around the World

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, April 15, 2016

ASAP introduced a thought-provoking session at the March 2016 Global Alliance Summit that allowed attendees to “spin the globe” and finger regions of interest for cultural exploration. Designed to help alliance managers glimpse the importance of understanding cultural nuances, “Alliances Around the World: Cultural Roundtables” provided insights and tips on doing your homework before stepping into a partnering venture that’s sometimes halfway around the globe. 

Deftly moderated by Philip Sack, CSAP, president of ASAP’s Asia Collaborative Business Community, the two-hour session that took place at “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, was co-presented by three knowledgeable alliance managers: China was covered by Andrew Yeomans, CSAP, director of alliance management, biopharma business, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany; India was covered by Subhojit Roye, CSAP of Tradeshift; Latin America was covered by Guarino Gentil Jr., CA-AM of Serono, a healthcare division of Merck.

The next issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine will feature the first of several articles written about the roundtables—a virtual collective deep dive led by Yeomans and his Chinese partner, Jin Wu, who works for Serono (a healthcare division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) in China. The article takes readers into the nuances, taboos, and norms of doing business in China, via a roundtable discussion, with the roundtables for India and Latin America following in a subsequent issue.

“What’s needed for success, in general, has to do with people and relationships,” summarized Sack when introducing the session. After describing the need for partnering with cultural sensitivity in our fast-merging world, he provided a very basic list applicable to anyone doing business in any country:

  • Be an active listener
  • Communicate well—be a good speaker
  • Be patient

Attendees then selected a region, and eventually rotated throughout the room engaging in regional exchanges led by the remaining two co-presenters. The animated discussions included multiple questions and answers from the co-presenters and participants on topics ranging from traditional values, social networks, and product approval processes to contracts, copyright, inflation, and state-by-state legal variances.

The co-presenters emphasized the value of developing appropriate soft skills, such as understanding what is important in a particular culture: holidays, seniority, punctuality—or in some cultures a laid-back approach to time.

In China, for example, knowing how to socially negotiate the system of guanxi (the concept of drawing on connections in personal or business relations) is critical for access to Chinese markets. The guanxi business network is a web that interlinks thousands of social and business connections.

In India, it’s key to understand the lines of delineation and codes of conduct: a partner can become a competitor; a prospective acquisition target can end up assuming your company. In Latin America, effective communication requires easing into relationships with chitchat on personal issues because direct communication can be viewed as impolite.

Becoming attuned to legal, political, and structural differences in a country, region, or district is also advantageous. For example, taxes in Latin America can be very complicated. Several layers of tax fees exist, and Brazil can be especially complicated with different VAT taxes, each with its own rules. The taxes may vary product-to-product and state-to-state, explained Gentil.

In India, where software development has matured considerably, doing business in village areas requires sensitivity and insight into the caste system. “The caste of an individual could play an important part in success. It’s best to have the local country representative guide you,” advised Roye. “This needs to be done with extreme sensitivity as India is a democracy, and equality of opportunity is important.”

In China, it’s especially important to pay careful attention to the contract. One needs to consider the spirit as well as the letter of the contract and differing approaches to interpretation, said Yeomans. A lot of partnering is done with the Chinese government, and your goals for doing business need to be seen as adding value, "a kind of Robin Hood philosophy where the company is distributing for the human good, for humankind,” he added. “They would see that approach as an added value concept.” Negotiating the nuances of China “requires a huge amount of depth and understanding, and the key is to harness [the skills necessary for entering] the Chinese market.” 

Tags:  Alliance managers  Andrew Yeomans  China  cultural nuances  cultural sensitivity  guanxi business network  Guarino Gentil Jr.  India  Latin America  Merck KGaA  Merck Serono SA  negogiating  Philip Sack  Subhojit Roye  Tradeshift 

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Engaging Peer-to-Peer Roundtable Sessions Become Popular New Central Feature at ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson & Ana Brown, Monday, March 14, 2016

Fostering opportunities and tools for peer-to-peer learning is one of ASAP’s goals, and that concept was well-integrated into this year’s ASAP Global Alliance Summit with several popular roundtable sessions. The feedback has been positive so far on the two roundtables, which quickly became an active format for sharing at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Md. 

Following the “ASAP Quick Takes” talks, the first roundtable session provided participants with the choice of 17 valuable, timely topics connected to the broader “ASAP Quick Takes” theme of “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem.” Participants chose between 26 different discussion groups facilitated by thought leaders from ASAP’s membership. Topics ranged from “Strategic Alliance Management across the Enterprise” to “Knowing with Whom to Partner Now” to “Quick Take ‘Hot Takes:’ Seeing Around Corners.” Look for an upcoming blog item on the second engaging roundtable session that took place the following day: “Alliances around the World: Cultural Roundtables,” facilitated by Philip Sack, CSAP, ASAP Asia Collaborative Business Community, and co-presented by Guarino Gentil Jr., CA-AM, Merck-Serono; Subhojit Roye, CSAP, Tradeshift; Andrew Yeomans, CSAP, Merck-Serono. 

I randomly selected a group at the ASAP Quick Take Roundtables led by Donna Peek, CSAP, director, partner enablement & operations, global alliances & channels, SAS on “The First 100 Days of an Alliance” and watched a lively, relevant conversation unfold. Peek, who also is ASAP’s vice-chairman of the executive management board, dynamically led the group, drawing out ideas and fostering engaging conversation as the participants ramped up their communications into active sharing. “The train is already barreling down the track and you are trying to adjust and redefine,” she said, while jotting down a checklist of what an alliance manager should be focused on in the first 100 days that looked something like this: 

  • Identify critical stakeholders
  • Identify executive governance
  • Define frameworks
  • Find good fits for the collaborative team
  • Make sure everything is included that needs to be in the contract
  • Clarify strategy and scope
  • Make alignment part of the term sheet process 

This last point, offered by Ana Brown, project manager, strategic alliances, Citrix, so captured participant attention that we thought her idea worth sharing as an example of how helpful and practical these exchanges can be. Brown offered to write up the idea for a larger audience. 

#Termsheetlove: Bringing Back the Term Sheet
By Ana Brown

The use of a term sheet has been a longstanding precursor to any agreement. With busy times, and changing alliance leaders and teams, sometimes such processes are left behind.

If you find yourself having multiple conversations with your internal stakeholders, all at different times, redlining your partner agreement—sometimes for months. Finding yourself thinking, “Oh my gosh, that call was so long ago I can’t remember what the issues with the agreement were in the first place,” then this recommendation is for you.

Bringing back the term sheet with some easy steps will help you: 

  1. Gain alignment with all your internal stakeholders before going into the agreement process.
  2. Cut the lead-time to fully executed agreement more than half (months for some of us)! 

First, work with your legal team to come up with the best term sheet template (and get buy in from your internal stakeholders that the term sheet will answer most, if not all, of the questions they may have on any potential partner agreement).

Next, complete the term sheet after completing your business plan and receiving buy in from your business unit and partner. Alliance leaders fill out the term sheet (deal exec summary and details) and simultaneously circulate it to the internal stakeholders so that they all know.... (Example of stakeholders include: channel operations, revenue recognition, legal, GEO VPs, etc.—anyone who needs to know the deal is coming.)


Alliance leaders then schedule a kickoff call with stakeholders to review the term sheet, receive stakeholders’ approval to the term sheet (email approval is okay), and are then ready to move the deal to agreement and work with legal to execute.

Ta-da! You just made a bunch of friends by creating internal alignment and cutting the lead time to fully executed agreement in half.

#Termsheetlove - spread it forward :)

Tags:  agreement  alignment  Ana Brown  Andrew Yeomans  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  ASAP Quick Takes  collaborative  Donna Peek  frameworks  governance  Guarino Gentil  leadership  Merck-Serono  partnering  peer-to-peer learning  Philip Sack  scope  stakeholders  strategy  Subhojit Roye  term sheet  Tradeshift 

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