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How to Partner for Open Innovation: A Sneak Preview of John Bell’s Forthcoming ‘ASAP Quick Take’ at the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, February 11, 2016

Addressing various facets of “partnering everywhere” in our rapidly evolving world, four experts are slated to present “ASAP Quick Takes” (patterned on the “TED Talks” format) at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit. This year’s summit is organized around the theme “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” and will be held just outside the US capital at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.  

Among the executives in the ASAP Quick Takes line-up is John Bell, PhD, head of external innovation at Johnson & Johnson Consumer, who will present the talk “Creating Partnering Opportunities through Open Innovation.” Bell brings distinctive credentials: He has worked as head of strategy & new business at Philips Research, head of strategic alliances at Philips, strategy consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and as an assistant professor. Despite his busy schedule and prominent daytime job, he somehow also carves out the time to teach alliance strategy at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands. During a recent interview, I asked Bell for some insights on his upcoming ASAP presentation. 

How has Johnson & Johnson led the way in corporate alliance management through structuring and outreach? 

In the Consumer division, we work closely with start-ups and strategic suppliers. For instance, with some of our strategic suppliers, we developed a way of working that activates the innovation capabilities of these partners to come up with innovative solutions. In the past, we typically approached suppliers with the question to make a specific product at a specific price point. Today, we share with a select group of partners what kind of consumer needs we aim to solve. Their R&D and our Johnson & Johnson R&D people then start to co-create novel solutions. 

How does your hands-on workshop help alliance managers sharpen their skills and expertise to broaden alliance activities in their organization? 

By sharing some of our learnings and providing insights into the steps we have taken and are still making, we believe that alliance managers can learn what is relevant to their own organization. 

What are some of the ways Johnson and Johnson supports strategic development to capture valuable market and competitive insights? 

Johnson & Johnson has established so-called Innovation Centers in the heart of eco-systems around the globe: San Francisco, Boston, Shanghai, and London. In those Innovation Centers, there are 25 to 30 business developers, dealmakers, alliance managers, and legal and financial people. They focus on identifying and fostering innovation across the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and consumer ecosystem, and invest in early transformational “ideas” and start-ups. These innovation centers act as a first touch-point to the market and competitive developments. 

How does Johnson & Johnson lead the way in effectively managing alliances and establishing trust and stability in partnerships for maximum profitability? 

Maximizing profitability is not per se the main motivation for our partnerships. In many instances, co-creating innovative solutions is the main objective of our partnerships. We have dedicated alliance managers in place who manage the partnerships typically from inception until integration into our business. On top of that, we typically develop a network of multi-level relationships with our partners to strengthen the ties and understanding between Johnson & Johnson and our partners. One of our ambitions is to become the partner of choice, which implies that we value trust, openness, and win-win.

Tags:  allainces  alliance strategy  John Bell PhD  Johnson & Johnson Consumer  medical devices  partnerships  pharmaceutical  Philips  PwC  R&D  start-ups  University of Tilburg 

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ASAP Meets in New York City with Technical Advisory Group Members, Announces Growing Support for ISO Standard for Business Collaboration

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This week ASAP announced growing support for an International Standards Organization (ISO) standard for business collaboration. The U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG)—chaired by ASAP President and CEO Michael Leonetti—met this week in New York City in its role of representing the interests of U.S. organizations in the development of the international standard. In addition to ASAP, U.S. TAG members include representatives from Business Relationship Management Institute, as well as representatives from ASAP member companies including Cisco, Verizon, Phoenix Consulting Group, and PwC.


Via ASAP, the U.S. TAG representatives issued a broad invitation for companies to support and adopt the emerging ISO standard for business collaboration—and to get involved in the international effort to develop this unique new standard. Cisco, an ASAP global member, is involved in the effort both as a maker of technologies for business collaboration as well as a company that has spent many years seeking to improve its own ability to collaborate, according to Ron Ricci, Cisco’s TAG representative and the company’s vice president of customer experience services.


“At Cisco, we learned that elements such as common vocabulary and shared measures of success, as well as a common meeting system to engage employees, are the keys to driving strategic clarity and transparency—and giving people the freedom to successfully collaborate,” said Ricci, who relates these and other learnings as co-author of The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential.


This ISO standard for collaboration will be quite different from the typical standard.


“Most standards are very cut-and-dried process oriented,” noted TAG member Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP, who is principal of Phoenix Consulting Group and a longtime leader in the ASAP community. “This ISO standard has a unique aspect as a management standard in that it advocates behavioral and cultural support.”


In the full press release issued this week by ASAP, Leonetti said, “We invite ASAP members worldwide and other U.S. and international business organizations of all sizes to learn about, support, and adopt the emerging ISO standard for business collaboration.” He also emphasized that the “involvement of ASAP and its members and partners is core to the ASAP mission, which has focused for many years on establishing and propagating a management standard for the alliance management and partnering profession.”


Business Relationship Management Institute (BRMI) pursues a mission complementary to ASAP’s mission by focusing on relationships within business organizations.


“Internal as well as external business relationships are built on trust and have equal focus on business value,” said Aleksandr Zhuk, co-founder of BRMI and member of the U.S. TAG.


Read the complete announcement on the PR Web newswire at

Tags:  Aleksandr Zhuk  BRMI  Business Relationship Management Institute  Cisco  Collaboration  International Standards Organization  Norma Watenpaugh  Phoenix Consulting Group  PwC  Ron Ricci  U.S. Technical Advisory Group  Verizon 

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Companies Must Harness Digital Innovation as a Means of Growth—and Partner to Innovate Faster: ASAP Netcast Presents PwC Survey Findings

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, October 28, 2014

“Eighty percent of CEOs are looking at M&A, joint ventures, or strategic alliances. For those of us who have collaboration as a major discipline, this speaks to an incredibly important role we have to play. Companies’ success will be predicated on these investments [focused] on external ecosystems, on [being] much more transparent, on customer retention, etc. It’s the new imperative. CEOs are putting their investments … with an orientation towards growth … not doing it as heavily with channels and supply chain, but more focused upon the digital transformation channels.”


Nimma Bakshi, CA-AM, is getting to the heart of his Oct. 22 ASAP Netcast Webinar presentation with Jasmin Young, MBA. In their webinar, “Harnessing Digital Innovation as a Means of Growth,” the two PwC executives discuss and analyze the findings from two 2014 PwC surveys—the consulting firm’s 17th annual survey of US CEOs and its 6th annual Digital IQ Survey. Bakshi, past president of ASAP’s Silicon Valley chapter, is managing director with PwC’s US Corporate Advisory Services and is a leader within PwC's Advisory Alliances Group, heading one of PwC’s strategic alliances. Young is PwC’s technology sector director, serving as lead business strategy director for emerging technologies in PwC’s Cloud Center of Excellence.


Young and Bakshi highlighted a rise in CEO confidence as leaders now are increasingly focused on growth—for instance, 52 percent of CEOs anticipate increased hiring.


“We definitely see maneuvering on many fronts to capitalize on waves of change,” Young explained, noting that “the heart of the leadership challenge in 2014 has been earning enough trust to lead through the change.” Part of the change also involves seizing opportunities in both expected and unexpected places. For years, many global companies have sought growth in the emerging country powerhouses—e.g. the so-called “BRIC” economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. However, Young cited the comment of footwear retailer Foot Locker’s CEO. “Ahh, Europe was tough a couple of years ago—and now we’re trying to see how to build new stores in Europe.”


“Five megatrends emerged when CEOs were asked about what trends are most influential and/or disruptive,” Bakshi said.  

  1. Technology advances
  2. Demographic shifts
  3. Shift in global economic power as net new trade routes emerge
  4. Resource scarcity and climate change
  5. Urbanization
 “What’s really notable, it’s the first time in 17 years that technology has advanced to be the most important global trend and the most influential,” Bakshi commented. “IT technology has moved from the back office to the corner office—and by some measure. CEOs are more and more viewing digital, technology advancement, and their business strategies as inseparable.”


So where are CEOs looking to invest specifically?


“Those of you familiar with SMAC, you can see that the mature tech areas are where CEOs will be driving their spend,” Bakshi said. Very specifically, CEOs recognize both an opportunity as well as risk if their organizations don’t act—“a peril in not modifying the front office to interact with customers, with those that are customers of others, and with people who may not realize they can be customers.


“This is the new interaction model—24x7 monitoring, all is on, in terms of being relevant, persistent, available for commerce, and being able to conduct this global reach-out leveraging various forms of hybrid cloud.”


Failure to act—and failure to act quickly enough—opens the door to competitors seizing these customers and prospective customers from your company. But it’s no longer usual competitive suspects, Young explained.


“The economics of the business are evolving, and companies find themselves increasingly threatened not just by established, well-known players but also by upstarts,” she said. “Companies are reporting a lot of disruption, and the answer is to innovate. New products and services offer the main opportunity for growth.”


This context also is focusing CEOs much more on partnering than ever before. “It’s really hard to compete,” Young explained. “This is driving the desire to create more JVs and alliances to move and innovate more rapidly, thereby circumventing the innovator’s dilemma. Companies need to partner to be able to innovate faster.”


To learn more the PwC survey findings and their implications for partnering and alliance management, ASAP Members can view the archived ASAP Netcast Webinar of “Harnessing Digital Innovation as a Means of Growth.”

Tags:  17th annual survey of US CEOs  6th annual Digital IQ Survey  ASAP Netcast Webinar Series  Jasmin Young  Nimma Bakshi  PwC 

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