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From Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale: A Tale of Two Summits (Part 1)

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It’s interesting how “business ecosystems”—a biology metaphor—first became widely used terminology in the digital arena of software and technology—not in the life sciences. Same with “agile”—a development approach popularized by software startups morphed into a general teamwork and business management approach, now being adapted to collaboration within and among organizations of all types. Both of these terms took center stage in a number of presentations last November at the ASAP European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam—and will be spotlighted again next week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, organized around the theme of “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystems.”

You’re not alone if you think that “agility” and “ecosystems” are relevant topics—but you aren’t quite sure what “agile partnering” and “ecosystem management” actually mean. These emerging concepts are being defined, researched, and tested in the real world by practitioners across the ASAP community. Their learnings became the agendas of these two conferences—creating definition and clarity, building new capabilities, sharing case examples and new practices, and exploring new models for partnering. 

Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, PhD—an alliance management consultant and professor of management studies at the School of Business and Economics of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam—has been on a tear about the topic of ecosystem management:

  • Managing ecosystems—which de Man freely acknowledges is a contradictory notion—is the theme of a panel discussion next week at 2019 Summit, where de Man will be joined by senior partnering leaders from three very different fields: Harm-Jan Borgeld, PhD, CSAP, PhD, head alliance management, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany; Ken Carpenter, senior director, global partner qlliances, JDA Software; and Sally Wang, vice president alliances and partnerships, International SOS.
  • De Man discussed his hot topic in-depth in an article he authored for the Q4 2018 issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly that includes findings from interviews with 12 executives involved in ecosystem management.
  • In January, he elaborated on the potential alliance management implications of ecosystems and emerging ecosystem management practices in several posts he contributed to the ASAP Blog.
  •  November 8 at the ASAP European Alliance Summit, he discussed “Ecosystem Management vs. Alliance Management: What’s the Difference?”

Back in December, I caught up with de Man on Skype to ask about how he might describe ecosystem management—and how different audiences, in industries and sectors other than technology, might apply the concept to their collaborations. (For more of my conversations with De Man, see articles in December 2018 Strategic Alliance Monthly and Q1 2019 Strategic Alliance Quarterly).

“It’s much like orchestration,” he said, borrowing yet another metaphor popularized by tech. He continued (including a term from astronomy that also pops up in ecosystem conversations): “A lot of public-private initiatives involve more complex constellations with numerous partners. I did presentation last Friday for the city of Amsterdam. They have a lot of challenges. I introduced the ecosystem concept to them and they found it really useful because they’re always working with a lot of different partners. And it looks like many of these public [sector] challenges are going to be addressed by multi-partner alliances. You can’t necessarily call them ecosystems, but they have characteristics of ecosystems. Speed is getting important. You might think, with the public sector involved, that things may slow down—but that’s no longer acceptable.” He went on to say, “Alliance capability is very valuable to have, and probably a qualifier if you want the ecosystem play. But you also have to develop new capabilities—the bar has been raised over the last couple of years.”

Next week in Fort Lauderdale, De Man and his Summit panelists plan on “bringing in the experience that people have now working in such an ecosystem environment,” he explained. “Each will discuss their issues: How is ecosystem different than alliance management? What are the different approaches, different competency profiles, do you hire different people? What is the same or similar? How do you think it will develop over the coming years?”

Learn about De Man’s panel discussion and other seminal sessions at the 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. 

Tags:  agile partnering  agility  alliance capability  Ard-Pieter de Man  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  collaboration  ecosystem management  ecosystems  multi-partner alliances  public-private initiatives 

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Learning Agility ID: Insight into Successful Leadership, Part Two

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017

ASAP Media continues its coverage of “The Future Belongs to the Learning-Agile, a session presented Sept. 15 by Jim Peters at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference. Peters is a senior partner in Korn/Ferry International's Leadership and Talent Consulting group. His core message: individuals and/or organizations most adaptable to change are the ones best positioned to survive in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world.


At this point in the session, Peters introduced the attendees to a “Learning Agility Assessment Chart,” where characteristics such as self-assured to self-awareness were graded on a continuum. Other items at each end of the continuum included “depth mental agility” to “breadth mental agility,” “consistent people agility” to “flexible people agility,” “structured change agility” to “experimental change agility,” and “dependable results agility” to “resourceful results agility.” The talent was then scored as a depth learner, expandable learner, or a breadth learner.

Learning agility is based on ability and willingness to learn from experience under first-time conditions, Peters continued, referencing the charts and where people placed themselves and historic figures, such as Mozart, da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin.  “It’s not related to IQ. There’s a difference between traditional learning in comparison to agile learning characteristics. By navigating waters of external forces, agile leaders make a difference. They seek out and have more diverse experiences which enable them to handle challenges. They reflect, gain insight, and distill to apply to situations that may have underlying principles that need that sort of approach.”

Executives who derailed had blind spots—have untested or underdeveloped competencies. In extreme cases, some executives are not able to give up control.  Peters warned against putting people into experiences they haven’t the know-how to deal with. From 35 to 54 is the prime age of functional leaders. But today, too often top executives and even CEOs are found among MBAs that are young and clueless. Their talent may help them with high performance but not agility.

Peters cited that research shows organizations are experiencing a 56% shortage of key positions. Some 48% of companies have no process in place for appropriately selecting candidates and 40% of high potential candidates promoted into a new assignment failed! He admonished the attendees to think about the risk to their organization and the damage to the talent’s future if he/she is shuttled into a position for which the professional is ill suited. Most executives send people to take a course to expand. Yet, research shows that 70% learn from assignments; 20% learn from people, and 10% from courses.

Some companies ID CEOs decades earlier, he stated. “They look for an aptitude for logic and reasoning, a problem solver with a track record and leadership ability. They focus on strengths, but should not ignore weaknesses. Instead, they should create a workaround, so it won’t cause problems. A serious candidate must be able to learn from experience and adjust and must be self-aware. Avoid the hierarchical talent who believes ‘I’m the leader and don’t care how others are responding around me.’”

Financial people believe IQ is the key to success, Peters warned. Select those with learning agility. Mental agility is about problem solving, not IQ. Remember, there are narrow problems and broad problems (depth and breadth).

“People who are endowed with agility are good at reading people. (Steve Jobs could zoom in to see what you were bad at and use it against you.) Agility does not mean you like change, but rather that you understand it and are willing to take heat to work it through, as opposed to some others who would dig in their heels,” he said.

Tags:  Agile learners  agility  alliance managers  Complex and Ambiguous)  creative problem solvers  executives  expandable learner  Jim Peters  Korn-Ferry International  Leadership and Talent Consulting  Learning Agility Assessment Chart  talent  Uncertain  VUCA (Volatile 

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