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ASAP New England Chapter Holds Well-Attended, Practical Meeting on Alliance Management Skills and Competencies

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2017

Neither snowstorm, nor sleet, nor freezing temps can keep Jeffrey Shuman, PhD, CSAP, principal at The Rhythm of Business, from a New England ASAP Chapter meeting. And apparently, it couldn’t keep four other panelists and about 40 attendees from the discussion on “Alliance Management as a ProfessionSkills, Competencies,” at the Charles River Accelerator and Development Lab in Cambridge, Mass., on Jan. 31.  

The panel talked about the basic alliance management foundational skills recognized by recruiters, career paths, adapting to the evolving ecosystem, soft skills that are key to performing the job, and other related topics in a dynamic, one-hour meeting. In addition to Shuman, who moderated the discussion and is also professor of management at Bentley University, the panel members included ASAP’s own President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP; Marc Silber, founder and president of Crossover Consulting Group, a life sciences headhunting and recruiting agency; Mark Coflin, CSAP, head of alliance management, corporate planning & program management, Shire; Michelle Gardner, business development executive, cloud service providers, at IBM, who arranged the practical meeting.

The complexity of multi-industry, multi-partner alliances with a global reach has made alliance management training skills increasingly important. “Not everybody needs to be an alliance manager, but it’s our view that everybody increasingly needs to have some alliance management skills because alliance capability needs to extend to the perimeter, to the edge of the organization,” Shuman says. For example, scientists increasingly are working with other scientists in other organizations on tech solutions or drugs, whereas previously, most of the innovation was done internally. “What we see happening is folks in those areas are coming to their alliance folks and asking for advice,” he explains. “More people are interacting in these collaborations, and they really need some understanding of the skills and toolset.”

“Given that the speed, scale, and scope of partnering has increased, companies can’t afford to build an alliance management group that can manage all of the different parts of their business. When partnering with external entities, many people need a better understanding of the skills and tools.”

Among the topics that surfaced from the discussion were:

  • How to progress to an alliance management role from another area of the company
  •  Areas alliance managers are recruited from
  •  The various career paths and roles alliance managers can move into
  • Ecosystems, multi-party networks, hub-and-spoke models, and two-party relationships
  • The differences between being an alliance manager in biopharma/pharma and high tech

The topics likely will resurface in various sessions at the 2017 ASAP 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, California. Some of these topics also appear in a newly released ebook “The Power To Partner Everywhere: Why You Need It, What It Is, How To Build It,” by The Rhythm of Business Principals Jan Twombly, CSAP, Shuman, and Lorin Coles, CSAP, co-founder and CEO of Alliancesphere, LLC. Their two companies joined forces to form the SMART Partnering Alliance.  For a copy of the ebook, go to http://rhythmofbusiness.com/.

Tags:  alliance management  alliance manager  biopharma  career path  ecosystem  high tech  Innovation  Jeff Shuman  Marc Silber  Mark Coflin  Michelle Gardner  multi-industry  multi-partner alliances  partnering  Partnering Enterprise  pharma  Profit  SMART Partnering Alliance  The Rhythm of Business  tools  training skills 

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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process (Part Three): How Alliance Teams Build an Experience Map, Grapple with Challenges, and Iterate

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Monday, October 3, 2016
Updated: Friday, September 30, 2016

As you work through the design thinking process and apply it to your partnerships, you are building techniques to reach a decision, and you are learning to work together. With an alliance team and two core partners, you can get at an aligned recommendation or proposal. The ideal is to brainstorm and map out the most efficient way partners can get to the most effective process to come to a proposal. Then bring the partners together and arrive at a decision. Instead of “You have your way and I have mine,” ask “What is the alliance way?”

Now participants in the “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” workshop are exploring how to build an experience map. At this point in the 90-minute interactive session at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University professor Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, are leading breakout groups through the process, advising executives to:

  • Step back and focus on empathic needs using their emotional intelligence.
  • Define what the empathic needs are for the co-diagnostic partner.
  • Report back to the larger project team—scientists, governance bodies, and other stakeholders.
  • Brainstorm with the larger group in mind.
  • Accelerate the delivery process, and eliminate elements can slow the process down.
  • Separate decision making into a core group for brainstorming and a companion diagnostics partners group.
  • Question if either party has experience. If both or neither have experience, then negotiate.

It’s critically important for alliance managers to drive the process and ensure it’s actually happening. Establish a collaboration leadership team; compare the companions in a diagnostic space and find companion diagnostic partners. Define the objective of the proposal and components. Both parties should come up with a short list of partners. There should be a joint evaluation process before asking for project approval. Get feedback, and redesign the prototype loop. Bring leaders and managers together to do this. Obtain a joint alliance management agreement on a new design. Relaunch the collaboration, implement from both partners, and plan for a joint development.

  • Two groups should come together and define a shared problem or goal.
  • Identify the problems.
  • Bring back to the company collective and individual brainstorming and group feedback.
  • Finalize and propose to the steering committee.

Approach Issues with Partners—and Build Iteration into the Process

Implementation

There is a skill to defining assumptions that may turn out to be true, or not true. Engage people, and roll it out to create a social charter, and stick to it. When looking at the final piece—look to iterate. You may find you didn’t get the question right, or you may discover you didn’t understand and so-and-so needed to be brought into the process. Question: Are you delivering the design experience? Make sure you find measures that define it. Prior to the proposal being presented to governance, make sure everyone has bought in.

As part of the workshop, groups were formed and asked to identify three assumptions inherent in the process they designed. Additionally, they were asked to assess the following: What is the most critical assumption you have made, and if it’s wrong, what is the impact? 

Group responses:

  • People won’t be candid or transparent or participate in individual conversations.
  • The development team is vetting the plan properly, and it was checked for joint alignment.
  • Both teams want to work jointly and collaborate. Or do they think they know best?  
  • They assume the other company has experience, but they may not have the experience or data needed.
  • In the list of shared attributes, make sure the internal list matches up. If not, it won’t pass governance.
  • You don’t need hard data numbers to prove or disprove the assumption.

Final thoughts

ID assumptions.  Use iteration. Move forward and focus on the intended outcome.  Start the intended experience, and map backwards. All stakeholders must get their needs satisfied; if not, they will stick out their foot and stop the process. Give power to partners if you wish to engage in a productive and collaborative process.

Tags:  alliance managers  alliance teams  Bentley University  biopharma  collaboration  decision making  design thinking  healthcare  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  leadership team  non-asset based alliances  partnering  partners  The Rhythm of Business 

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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process, Part II: Alliance Execs Explore the Culture of Creativity from Inspiration to Iteration

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, September 30, 2016

Throughout the fast-paced workshop, “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University business professor Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, focused on real-life scenarios biopharma alliance teams encounter, such as partnering with multiple partners, non-asset based alliances, and partnering with other sectors that run on much faster clock speeds than is typically seen in biopharma. 

“If the end goal is ‘getting there’ despite these complexities, whatever ‘getting there’ has been determined to be will set off an exhaustive testing and learning cycle in a high-uncertainty environment,” Shuman explained. For many, this may involve developing new cultural behaviors for the team, referred to as a “culture of creativity.” In the arts and design world, the expectation is that the process involves creation and change, where art forms of whatever medium are created and altered or edited in a series of steps considered native to the process. But because we operate in a more linear environment, one project or task at a time, the need to pivot and change direction may seem like a form of failure. For some, iteration does not come easy, yet it is integral to the ultimate success of a project.

In the “how” of “getting there,” the first step involves clarifying the motivations, perceptions and beliefs of stakeholders in the inspiration phase, engaging in a process of discovery and inquiry to hone in on the core question to answer. This is especially important when working with multiple partners because each team comes with its own set of corporate cultural values and language.

In working with a partner, Twombly emphasized, work within a framework of give-and-get thinking.  “Look at their needs first, what is it you need to do to help them to get what they need, and they will do the same for you. Visualize success and how it is different than what has been done in the past. Then test the idea in a safe situation. Map it out, and role play as a test.”

Drawing from one of the “greatest hits” of business strategy, the workshop focus turned to techniques outlined in Google Ventures’ five-day sprint, which can be used to launch products and build services. The sprint gives a team a shortcut to learning, by starting with a journey or experience map where you map out a problem and pick a place to focus. In the case of biopharma and healthcare, the focus might be on how patients access a new product faster. Following the mapping phase, you brainstorm competing solutions. Next, you move on to making decisions and creating a testable hypothesis. Then comes a prototype, and finally, testing.

“Start with the end. What is the objective? Who are the players?” Jan and Jeff asked the gathering. Jan warned that in brainstorming, most don’t do it well.  It’s important to stay focused on the question and come up with as many ideas as possible and then to prioritize.

Part III of our “Design in Pencil” story will discuss how to build an experience map for teams, grapple with issues that arise, and build iteration into the design thinking process. 

Tags:  alliance teams  ASAP BioPharma Conference  Bentley University  biopharma  healthcare  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  non-asset based alliances  partnering  The Rhythm of Business 

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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process (Part One): BioPharma Partnering Execs Explore How to ‘Get Smart Quickly’ and ‘Change as Needed’

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Participants packed the “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” workshop at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, diving into the 90-minute session to gain insight into design thinking as an innovative strategy that can be applied to alliance management.

Though design as a way of thinking in the sciences was explored as early as the late 1960s, the approach was expanded on by Rolf Faste at Stanford University in the 1980s and 90s. Design thinking was adapted for business purposes by Faste's Stanford colleague, David M. Kelley, who in 1991 founded IDEO, which focuses on a human-centered approach to innovative, problem-solving solutions.

Led by ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University professor, Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, the interactive session drew from IDEO as well as an IBM model that can be adapted to help alliance management teams solve problems at the speed and scale today’s corporate world demands. The workshop was designed to provide participants with proven tools and techniques that can immediately be put to use to align operating processes—or to address any complex problem. 

“When you know what you need to learn, you can get smart quickly,” Twombly stated as she explained how the design thinking process defines the problem and then uses the basic framework to arrive at desired customer process and outcomes.  Implementation of the solution always involves the needs of the end user.  However, iteration, the repetition of a process, is key to assessing outcomes and implementing change. And the iterations change as you begin to think smarter, she said. 

“You need to identify assumptions, and then ID info that was derived from that assumption and decide if the assumption was good or bad. But do it in pencil,” Twombly warned the group. “Give yourselves the opportunity to change as needed. Take time out of the process to do this.”

Key points in assessing end user needs and gaining other stakeholders’ inputs:

  • Interview with empathy, put stakeholders at ease, talk to invoke stories, give examples, and be specific.
  • Question statements—repeat back what you’ve heard to arrive at “yes” in an agreement and move forward.
  • Look for inconsistency and for nonverbal cues, such as, hesitation in a voice and areas that need to be worked through.
  • Do not ask leading questions and don’t give them the answers—let them come up with the truth of how they think and feel.
  • Find ways to work so you can be more efficient and effective.

Twombly cautioned that when working in tandem with another group, act as a joint think tank where you both develop a concept and don’t develop competing concepts in isolation and then fight over them. Think of how others might feel if the proposal they worked on, on their own, was roundly rejected. She then asked the participants grouped by tables to develop three questions that need to be asked of team member. 

At this point in the workshop, Shuman began to actively work with the groups. The questions needed to look at “what we’ve experienced that gets at what was wrong with the process.” The purpose of the questions is to generate design strategy from design thinking. Questions developed by the groups included:

  • What is frustrating about the ways we collaborate?
  • What is the value of meetings?
  • What about this process keeps you up at night?
  • What do you think is working about the collaboration?  What isn’t working?
  • How do you feel the meeting is going?  Be candid.
  • What defines a great collaboration meeting?  What does it accomplish?

“Use the questioning process to see what matters and then base your design on it,” Twombly said. “Ask why and how. It’s always good to gather data in pairs. One asks questions and one captures data. Order the answers in a series of needs statements, as in: 

Question: Why do we need more efficient acceleration?

Answer: We need greater efficiency to drive the agenda, to get the product to the customer.

Question:  If that is why, then how do we get there? 

Stay tuned to the ASAP Blog for Part Two of our coverage of Twombly and Shuman’s design thinking workshop, as well as continued blog posts about other informative and provocative sessions that ASAP Media team covered during last week’s 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference at the Revere Hotel Boston Common. 

Tags:  alliance management  Bentley University  collaboration  customer  David M. Kelley  design thinking  IBM  IDEO  innovative strategy  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  problem-solving solutions  Rolf Faste  stakeholders  Stanford University  The Rhythm of Business 

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A Swim in ‘The Aquarium:’ Your Chance to Collectively Shift the Thought Currents of Alliance Management

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 7, 2016

ASAP Summit and Conference participants spend a lot of time sitting, listening, and absorbing the most cutting-edge information in the industry. Now it’s your turn to be a speaker, guide, and thought provoker in a new session format at this year’s ASAP BioPharma Conference Sept. 7-9, “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, Boston. The Aquarium session encourages attendees to dive in and wrestle with the hot topics of the day in a creative, ASAP-designed version of the “fishbowl” learning activity. Moderated by Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, the session will start with a lively exchange on key topics from several experts in the field of alliance management as the audience peers into the tank. There will be three 25-minute rounds during the session, each with a separate topic. Participants will be allowed to “tap in” and move the conversation in new directions. When someone comes onto the stage, one person must exit. 

“We’re not sticking to a script; each of these topic discussion could branch off,” explains Ann Johnson, ASAP’s content manager, who has developed the concept as an innovation ASAP programming.  “That’s the beauty of nontraditional session structure like this: It allows for free-space that often results in exploring topics in real and meaningful ways … through many different lenses. It encourages engagement, peer-to-peer sharing, and participation, which is what our members want. There are no right answers to these topics, and in fact we want to hear diverse viewpoints,” Johnson adds. “This is a way to hear from the voices we often don’t hear from.” 

It’s an opportunity to become a member of the “school” in a fast-paced, collective swim that is geared to leave participants with a more creative and innovative perspective on the potential for change in alliance management. The following preselected topics are designed to jumpstart the conversation:

Topic #1: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

True or False: The alliance management profession in biopharma has the respect, skills, and ability to lead companies into partnering with different types of partners, across industries, and in new models.

Topic #2: Handle with Care: Managing the C-Suite

How do you ensure executive leadership (C-Suite) is appropriately involved in an alliance, without giving them a seat at the table, especially when the alliance is between a small, innovative company and big pharma?

Topic #3: Breadth or Depth – What Does it Take to Succeed?

Which qualities will be more highly valued in alliance managers as the industry adapts to digitization, outcomes based pricing, and an increasing number and variety of partnerships: broad business and technical skills and experience or deep pharmaceutical industry knowledge and experience?

As the conversation evolves, participants will then get a chance to bump the following thought leaders and senior-level partnering executives off the stage: 

  • Jeremy Ahouse, CSAP, PhD, Executive Director Alliance Management, Celgene
  • Harm-Jan Borgeld, CSAP, PhD, Head Alliance Management, Merck Serono 
  • David Burnham, Senior Vice President Strategic Alliance Management, INC Research
  • Mark Coflin, CSAP, Senior Director Alliance Management Global BD&L, Baxalta US Inc.  
  • Cathy Connelly, CA-AM, Head, Alliance Management, Sanofi Genzyme
  • Andy Hull, CA-AM, Vice President, Global Alliances, Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Katherine Kendrick, CA-AM; Director of Alliance Management, Elanco, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Brooke A. Paige, CSAP, Staff Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, HealthCore, Inc.
  • Petra Sansom, Sr. Director, Alliance Management, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Mary Jo Struttmann, CA-AM; Executive Director, Global Alliance Management, Astellas Pharma Inc.
  • Michael Sumpter, Head of Alliance Management, Servier Monde
  • David S. Thompson, CA-AM, Chief Alliance Officer, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Steve Twait, CSAP, VP, Alliance and Integration Management, AstraZeneca

 Photo credit:  MB Photo Credit: W. Chappell

Tags:  alliance management  alliance managers  Ann Johnson  Astellas  AstraZeneca  biopharma  c-suite  David Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  Jan Twombly  Mary Jo Struttmann  Michael Sumpter  partnerships  Petra Sansom  pharma  Servier Monde  Steve Twait  The Rhythm of Business  Vertex Pharmaceuticals 

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