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An Unambiguous Call to Action: Preview the Q1 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Saturday, February 11, 2017

From the cover to The Close, the Q1 2017 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine tackles the critical topics that matter in today’s increasingly complex collaborations—and serves as a call to action for partnering executives to step out of their comfort zone, sound the call for professional alliance management, and continuously build their organizations’ capability to collaborate everywhere. For example, in our regular column “The Close,” I share a recent conversation with top Cisco executive and collaboration leader Ron Ricci. While “comfort with ambiguity” is an oft-cited trait of alliance executives, I argue (with support from Ron) that there’s nothing ambiguous about your CEO recognizing that digitization demands collaboration if your company is to succeed. Get a jump start reading this issue—full text of “The Close” follows below.

“THE CLOSE: An Unambiguous Call to Action,” from Q1 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine

In Genevieve Fraser’s Q1 2017 Member Spotlight on Celgene, she and Jeremy Ahouse, CSAP, PhD, discuss how his alliance team includes “the kinds of people who can live with ambiguity and difference even as they get things done.” I’ve often heard comfort with ambiguity cited as an important trait of partnering executives. I got to thinking: Do I know any “ambiguous” alliance executives?

Most partnering professionals I know strike me as grounded, clear-as-a-bell communicators who don’t hesitate to share their point of view and who often can be very directive. I surmise that it’s precisely a lack of personal ambiguity that helps alliance execs lead amidst ambiguity. In a nutshell, it takes confidence to collaborate.

You feel that confidence within Ron Ricci, co-author of The Collaboration Imperative and a longtime Cisco senior executive focused on collaboration as an organizational capability, who joined a 90-minute conference call with ASAP’s advisory board in January. Ricci and Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP, principal of Phoenix Consulting Group, discussed the just-published ISO 44001, the International Standards Organization’s standard for “collaborative business relationship management systems.” (See in-depth coverage forthcoming in eSAM Plus, ASAP blogs, and future Strategic Alliance Magazine articles.) Ricci believes the ISO standard—which aligns to ASAP’s alliance management frameworks—will help propagate a common language for business collaboration, inside and among organizations. Ricci and the many leaders he interacts with see partnering and collaborative ability as central to grappling with the pace of a rapidly digitizing world.

“I spend all day long talking to senior executives of diverse governments and companies around the world about their collaboration opportunities,” says Ricci, vice president of customer experience services at Cisco, whom I spoke to recently. “Speed is the most important thing they need to move their businesses [according to] every leader I’ve met with over the last five years on this topic of collaboration. And companies see collaboration as the means to get speed.”

Talking to Ricci is an unambiguous look into how the C-suite views partnering and collaboration today—and the opportunity this represents for alliance management.

“Digitization and the ability to connect anything has taken the notion of speed and actually made it a potential carnivore of companies,” Ricci explains. “Take the technology trend of standardization and connect to the broader business trend of digitization—now we have a market moving almost at the pace of Moore’s Law. In 18 to 24 months the way you make money serving your customers can evolve. … So the way organizations collaborate and work together might need to be the most important capability they need to survive in the 21st century.”

This is an unmistakable call to action for all alliance professionals. It’s time to evangelize the value of this profession like never before. Recent ASAP, Vantage Partners, and other studies present unambiguous data on how professional alliance management drives success and financial performance of partnerships. As exemplified by our cover story, “The Partner-Everywhere Imperative: A Practitioner’s Guide,” and numerous sessions at ASAP conferences, the ASAP community is on the forefront of extending and adapting alliance management frameworks, practices, and tools to the new, increasingly complex collaborations that now proliferate across industries and sectors.

“How do you survive in a world where risk is growing faster than growth?” a Fortune 500 CEO recently asked Ricci. “You have to operate at an uncommon level of speed, adaptability, and flexibility,” Ricci responds. “And if there’s a better way to do that than collaboration, please tell me.”

And if there’s a better resource for collaboration success than your alliance team, the ASAP community, and the alliance management profession, please tell me.

Tags:  alliance executives  alliances  ASAP Conferences  Celgene  collaboration  C-suite  Fortune500  Jeremy Ahouse  Partner-Everywhere  Ron Ricci  Strategic Alliance Magazine  The Collaboration Imperative  Vantage Partners 

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Part IV: Stuart and Shawn Compare Notes on How to Build Bridges among Partners though Best Tools and Practices

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016

This is our continued coverage of a lively discussion that took place at an ASAP session presenting two valuable alliance management studies on “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The session unveiled the landmark ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group (see Part I of this blog post). The session also included an insightful presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges” (see Part II of this blog post). The presenters then engaged in a conversation about how the two studies dovetail in economic and financial metrics and the ways they can be used to improve company performance (see Part III of this blog post).  

Shawn: It goes back to the ability to build bridges. There are some families in a neighborhood that exert more effort to make community ties. The same thing is true with tools and practicessome are more helpful in building bridges between companies. We need to look at how we are assessing companies and whether we are missing a large mass of information underneath. The full picture needs to be looked at so the bridge you are building can match up to the distance. There was a small business worth billion of dollars, struggling to hit two-to-three percent growth. We looked at social capital, and a little sliver came out that seems trivial, but we employed it into a solution. That little sliver went live two months ago and resulted in 80 percent growth. Social capital might seem small, but it is clearly a force driving firms away or pulling them together.

Stuart:  You need to put in mechanisms to bridge the difference.

Shawn: Sometimes the gap is too big. You need to ask: “Do we actually have the capability?” Building a plane while in the air is not the best strategy.

Stuart: Sometimes we get called in to intervene in an alliance. Someone will call and say we have lost trust. What does that mean? We don’t trust that we are well aligned, have the ability to manage that misalignment, and be able to manage that difference in a significant way. They think of trust as individual relationships.

Shawn: Social capital is not so much the existence of specific ties. It’s more the environment created for them to exist that’s definitely a spider web. There is too much emphasis put on goodwill and trust. Social capital is not these feelings or soft things or upper-level management having strong personal deals. It’s about two firms having multiple connections. It’s about the structural dimensions and the ability to interact. Last in line in social capital are the trust, respect, and goodwill. 

Tags:  alliance management research studies  Alliance Maturity  Dr. Shawn Wilson  Economic Metrics  Social Capital  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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Part III: Stuart and Shawn’s Economic and Financial Metrics—A Dialogue About Social Capital and Alliance Maturity

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, October 24, 2016
Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016

ASAP presented first-of-their-kind findings from two alliance management research studies during the packed session  “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The session unveiled the landmark ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group (see Part I of this story posted on September 14).

The session also included an insightful presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges” (see Part II of this blog post). The presenters then engaged in a conversation about how the two studies dovetail in economic and financial metrics and the ways they can be used to improve company performance. Following is part of their exchange:

Stuart: I think the two studies are very well connected and say very similar things in different ways. One thing that is interesting is that internal operating models haven’t evolved at the same pace as alliancing activity. In the gaps in the internal operating models, we need to rely on social capital. If you start to think of social capital and operating models, organizations need to grapple with how to enable the building of social capital. It’s not easy to do if organizations put people in dilemmas to make social capital decline. The concern I have about the ASAP study is that the language of social capital sounds too individual skill-based, not “How do we build up organizational capability?” We need to make sure executives don’t misunderstand that language.

Shawn: Social capital is an extremely underused term that is much more than individual ties. It’s been used for relationship building, but it’s really precise with dimensions that are unique and powerful when employed…. You need to take all those things into account to appropriately assess the distance between two firms: Is the social capital strong enough to put them together? How do firms assess maturity?

Stuart: Alliance management maturity is a useful concept, and how social capital fits into the model or how to evolve it. Do we assume the commercialization process is taking place only internally, or through partner relationships? There are various attributes of maturity, and when you measure maturity, you want to define your terms. Assuming you have a complex portfolio of somewhat interdependent relationships, what is your maturity level to manage that kind of social capital? Below the surface activities are really interesting to understand, and how they keep us from delivering specific goals.

Shawn: Alliances are outpacing the ability to properly apply physical techniques and analyze, and it’s important to understand the true distance between two companies. How do firms build social capital? That’s a fantastic question. Consider this analogy: My wife and I located back to the West Coast and moved to a neighborhood with an eclectic group—PhDs, opera signers, government workers. If you’d asked me whom the people were that I’d connect with, it wouldn’t have been these folks. But it turns out the structural dimension of the neighborhood was key—who was out in the front yard every night and what is family to me were much stronger predictors of connections.

Stay tuned for additional coverage of the session “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” which will continue the lively discussion in Part IV between the presenters on how the two studies connect. You can read more on Vantage’s studies by visiting https://www.vantagepartners.com/Articles.aspx

Tags:  Alliance Management  alliance management research studies  Alliance Maturity  alliances  Dr. Shawn Wilson  Economic Metrics  operating models  Social Capital  structural dimension  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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Valuable Economic and Financial Metrics to Support Partnering and Revenues, Part II: How Companies Underestimate Alliance Challenges—Especially When Their Operating Model Is the Barrier

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, October 6, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Alliance management workers and their associated crew members had the opportunity to stock their toolboxes with valuable building instructions at a unique session, “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” at the ASAP 2016 BioPharma Conference, “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place Sept. 7-9 at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The session included a presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on the key findings from Vantage’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges.” The deep dive was part of a two-part presentation that included the findings of Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, who introduced an ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” which was covered in my previous Part I blog post

“Our findings show that companies are actually doing okay. There aren’t giant failure rates taking place,” observed Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, during his presentation of Vantage Partners’ latest comprehensive cross-industry study on alliances and alliance management. The 2015 study probes alliance prevalence and success rates through a two-part study methodology that included a 500-respondent survey and practitioner interviews. “ASAP would have been failing if those failure rates hadn’t [improved] over the last several years. Organizations have built up partnering capability, and that has had an impact on success rates.”

Kliman then zeroed in more specifically on the intent of the study: to determine the significance of alliance execution challenges and their consequences; the impact of alliance management maturity on success rates; and potential underlying organizational root causes of alliance execution challenges.

“People still identify alliance execution issues as being the foremost disabler in reaching alliance goals,” he explained of the impetus of the study. “They can identify significant loss of value through poor execution of those issues and spend a lot of time dealing with conflict. Shawn’s iceberg continues to be the underminer of execution.” [Part I of this blog post focuses on Dr. Shawn Wilson’s key findings, which included an “iceberg” analogy of how company issues can be hidden underwater, impacting social capital.]

The purpose of a merger is to eliminate difference, “but alliances are a different ‘berg,” he noted. “Organizations continue to significantly underestimate how challenging they can be. … Internal operating models haven’t evolved in a way consistent with how important alliances are becoming to our strategy.”

Alliance execution was identified in the study as the most frequent cause of alliance failure. Kliman linked that challenge to Wilson’s presentation. “Biopharma companies have internal innovation models, but they don’t spend a lot of time grappling. We actually have organizations involved in partnerships that haven’t evolved over time, so alliance management groups spend a lot of time putting ‘Band-Aids’ on organizations that are regularly undermining execution,” he observed.

He then explained more about the purposes of Vantage’s study:

  • To gain insight into the impact of ineffective management on alliance results
  • Identify new and persistent alliance execution challenges
  • Test hypotheses about the root causes of alliance management challenges

And the key findings of the study…

  • Organizations are increasingly leveraging partnerships to develop relationships for mutual gain, address business challenges, and drive bottom-line results.
  • Some 89 percent of pharma/biopharma respondents consider alliances “very important” or “mission critical.”
  • Some 83 percent of respondents reported having more alliances than five years ago.
  • Some 94 percent of respondents reported effective alliance management substantially increases the likelihood of, or is essential to, successful alliance execution.
  • The respondents reported that 39 percent of alliances fully achieved their objectives, 42 percent partially achieved their objectives, and 19 percent generally failed to achieve their objectives.

When higher maturity and capability grows, there are higher success rates, Kliman concluded. “This is where alliance management groups will lead the way:  One aspect of alliance management groups is to provide direct support to individual alliances and drive the capability. The next big goal is the focus in our second mission: To drive capability with alliances in mind.”

Stay tuned for additional coverage of the session “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” which will focus on a lively discussion between the presenters and audience participants on how the two studies connect. You can read more on Vantage’s studies by visiting https://www.vantagepartners.com/Articles.aspx

Tags:  6th State of Alliance  alliance execution challenges  alliance execution issues  Alliance Management  alliance prevalence  alliances  biopharma  Dr. Shawn Wilson  management  Stuart Kliman  success rates  Vantage Partners 

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Two Studies Provide Valuable Economic and Financial Metrics To Support Partnering and Revenues

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ASAP unveiled a landmark alliance management study to a packed room at the Revere Hotel in Boston, a block from the Boston Common, during the recent 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place Sept. 7-9. The session “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” introduced the ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group. The report provides economic and financial metrics based on extensive research and data analysis. "What is so important about this report is that it's the first time alliance management studies have gathered defined economic or financial outcomes as well as provided recommendations for improvement,” pointed out Michael Leonetti, CSAP, CEO of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, during the session introduction. The session also included a presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges.” Part I of this blog focuses on Wilson’s key findings. 

If you attended the ASAP BioPharma Conference last week or in years past, chances are you’re working for a successful company that has great balance and capability sheets, as well as skilled managers supporting company alliances. If you’re only concerned about the visible firm profile, however, you may miss the iceberg below the surface—the more massive structural configurations, norms, meanings, and work systems. Those subsurface dynamics can be swirling with conflict, which is why Dr. Shawn Wilson of Beaulieu Group, one of the world’s largest floorcovering manufacturers, did a deep dive about a year ago with a three-stage study that included qualitative interviews, a pilot study, and quantitative study of social capital. The consultant, published author, and researcher affiliated with Georgia’s Kennesaw State University worked with ASAP to provide new financial and economic ROI analytics that reflect partnering best practices. The study is based on the finding of three distinct dimensions of social capital: structural, cognitive, and relational. 

Social capital is the aggregate informal resources available to an individual, group, or institution that is generated by positive interactions. It effectively facilitates interactions, acting as a catalyst for inter- and intra-organizational transactions. Wilson used the concept of social capital as a tool to explore the tougher dynamics between organizations—and the potential to alleviate organizational problems in transactions and other interactions. 

“Social capital can be a force that pulls firms together or pushes them away. The more those dimensions of social capital push firms away, the longer the bridge needs to become in an alliance,” observed Wilson. “One of the biggest challenges firms have is that they overestimate what spans the bridge.” He then begged the question: “Were we successful because of the unknown factors under the iceberg?” 

The audience was then asked to consider a strong relationship between two people. “That strong relational tie doesn’t mean there will be strong ties when the entire family gets together,” he pointed out.  Now consider the failed alliance between Tesla and Toyota, which started as a friendship between the two CEOs, he continued.  “The mismatch between the two firms was too much for the alliance to bear.” 

The second finding from the study is that “the right kind of experience counts,” he said. The data don’t show that social capital improves when relationships strengthen; when it comes to an alliance executive’s experience, it’s not about the tools brought in. It’s about how to measure up to a firm’s potential partnership through nuance, he added. 

The third finding? Companies with above-average social capital outperformed their peers. The financial measures were much higher when perceptual measures were met, such as satisfaction, the accomplishment of strategic objectives, and stability. 

Watch for Part II of our coverage on “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” Stuart Kliman’s presentation of Vantage Partner’s study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges.” You can read more about ASAP’s 6th State of Alliances in the Summer 2016 Strategic Alliance Magazine.

Tags:  6th State of Alliance  alliance  alliance management  Beaulieu Group  Dr. Shawn Wilson  economic and financial metrics  economic ROI analytics  Michael Leonetti  partnering best practices  partnerships  perceptual measures  social capital  Stuart Kliman  Tesla  tools  Toyota  Vantage Partners 

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