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Change as a Constant: A Timely Session Planned for the ASAP BioPharma Conference

Posted By Geena B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Managing cycles of change is a session theme certain to unpack a profusion of thought-provoking ideas at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Creating Valuable and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” September 24-26 at the Hyatt Regency Boston in Boston, Massachusetts USA. When change is afoot, alliance managers must learn how to quickly shift, dance, adapt, and evolve to keep pace in today’s meteoric biopharma partnering climate. How do alliance managers maintain an alliance mindset while negotiating fast-paced strategic changes, organizational shifts, and the introduction of new leadership? In a buzz of constant change, how do teams continue to listen to future needs? These are just a few of the challenges that will be addressed in the session “Leading Alliance Management amidst Shifting Corporate Strategy,” moderated by Andy Eibling, CSAP, senior partner at Forty86 Consulting Group. He will bring four panelists together to tackle this topic along with audience participation: Nick Dunscombe, vice president of business & commercial development at Astellas Pharma Europe; Mojgan Hossein-Nia, vice president, head of the R&D partnership office, Takeda; Steve Twait, CSAP, vice president alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca; Lucinda Warren, vice president business development, neuroscience, Johnson & Johnson Innovation/Janssen Business Development. Eibling recently provided a brief preview of some of the focal points the panelists plan to discuss.

What were some of the themes of this session?
Three of the four panelists have undergone significant changes in their careers. The fourth went through big organizational shifts not too long ago and has had multiple jobs within the organization. As the moderator, I will let them paint their own portrait and tell their own story and then go into targeted questions. We will discuss a lot of the problems associated with transitioning and how the panelists have solved them. We plan to stay within the alliance mindset and talk about how to ensure that the right mindset is in place as your alliance goes through strategic changes or as you are introduced into a new organization. Those changes could be an organizational shift from centralized to decentralized or a move to organize by therapeutic area to business unit. Changes to alliances, such as asset divestitures, will be covered. We will talk a little bit about tools and technology and how they are being used to learn and share expertise. As we talk about changes in strategies, we will get into metrics and how you can leverage them to ensure that you stay true to the alliances and their objectives. What metrics are companies incorporating to measure not just alliance health, but collaboration value? Another topic is how to design a Center of Excellence. This group has lots of expertise and different types of experiences.

What are some of the biggest challenges pharma alliance managers face today when dealing with corporate restructuring, both internally and externally?
That’s one of the themes we will address. As your organization shifts, by business unit or a move to a decentralized structure, what impact does that have? How does that change impact how your team performs? Constant change is the norm today as corporations strive to deliver much-needed innovative therapies to patients, increase revenues, and provide shareholder value. All the change we are talking about could be interpreted as ecosystem change for lasting solutions. The answers need to be flexible, not only relating to what you are going through now but predicting the next change as the pendulum swings. When the bowl of asset divestment wanes, what’s next? And do you have the right skills for the coming changes? What are the trends in non-traditional partnerships? Is the alliance language the same in the collaboration lifecycle?

What about adapting to changes in company culture? Will you be discussing these types of changes as well?
We are going to make sure to incorporate questions from the audience, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes up as a question. Nick Dunscombe, one of the panelists, just moved from a British to a Japanese company with a strong presence in the United States. He moved from alliance management at AstraZeneca to Astellas. Corporate culture might be something he could address. How do you apply what you know, what you learn, and how you shift? He will discuss best practices and the differences in the companies. Also, how do you adapt and how do you do it differently? What things worked in the past?

For more discussion of critical biopharma partnering topics and conference coverage, check out the Q2 and Q3 2018 issues of Strategic Alliance Magazine and the August 2018 issue of eSAM Plus.

Tags:  2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference  alliance manager  alliance mindset  Andy Eibling  Astellas  AstraZeneca  corporate culture  corporate restructuring  Johnson & Johnson Innovation  Lucinda Warren  Mojgan Hossein-Nia  Nick Dunscombe  non-traditional partnerships  Steve Twait  strategic challenges  Takeda 

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The Value of the Alliance Watchdog—Flagging and Wrestling with ‘Wicked Problems’

Posted By Geena B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

“Wicked problems”—those stubborn, persnickety alliance challenges that defy easy answers—are sometimes difficult to pinpoint, discuss, and address in partnerships. Which is why Jeremy Ahouse, CSAP, vice president of alliances at Merus Pharmaceuticals, selected the topic to address head-on in his upcoming session “Grappling with Wicked Problems in Alliance Management” at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. The September 24-26 conference will be held for a second year at the Hyatt Regency Boston—conveniently located in the back bay near several esteemed academic and research institutions.

Never one to avoid a grueling topic, Ahouse developed his session after interviewing several senior alliance members about the hardest parts of alliances. Some of the seemingly intractable challenges were downright wicked, he concluded. Hence, his session on helping alliance managers learn how to confront and wrestle with the tough stuff.

“Wicked problems” can be particularly corrosive to meeting dynamics and challenging to contract clauses and/or shifting priorities. Ahouse pulls heavily from renowned public leadership guru Ron Heifetz for ideas on how to deal with such issue. There are three types of problems, he says. “In Type 1 problems, you agree on the problem definition and potential solutions. Project managers can often successfully address these,” he states. “In Type 2, we agree on our understanding of the problem but are still working on the solutions. In Type 3, we don’t even agree on what the problem is.”

An alliance manager must determine which type of problem they are facing to address it. Sometimes this process requires deep thinking and analysis because the problems are difficult to recognize and complex, which makes them so “wicked.” But there can be great value in wrestling with complexity, he purports. They may be tough to identify, but resolving problems is vital to partnerships. “Alliance managers are uniquely positioned to see problems that come out of interactions between companies and functions,” Ahouse points out. “This puts us in a position to notice early and alert our teams.”

This watchdog role is important to keep the collaboration running smoothly and most efficiently. There is no magic potion to addressing these issues, he quickly points out. “I don’t have simple answers to these problems.”

But discussing them makes them less “wicked,” he adds. And there are good, better, and best ways to communicate when a “wicked problem” surfaces.

Ahouse plans to focus on the challenges rather than success stories associated with these kinds of alliance problems. This way, the audience can have first-hand experience wrestling with real-life, hard problems that might get ignored in an alliance management situation.

The goal for the session is to create “an opportunity to start talking about [problems] and get ASAP members wrestling with them in a public forum,” he concludes. He plans “to stay away from simplistic answers” and encourage ASAP participants to think deeply about topics that need confrontation but many shy away from because of their complexity.

For more about Ahouse’s session, check out “'No Whitewash': Going Beyond 'Simplistic Answers' to the Toughest Alliance Management Challenges” in the July 2018 issue of eSAM Plus.

Tags:  alliance challenges  Alliance Management.#ASAP BioPharma  alliance manager  Jeremy Ahouse  Merus Pharmaceuticals  partnerships  Ron Heifetz 

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‘You Give Me a Buck, and We Give You Back Three’: Pharma Partnering Leaders Discuss Roles—and the Value of Alliance Management

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, April 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The evolving roles of alliance executives—and capturing the value of the alliance function—were among the many topics that emerged as during the Tuesday, March 27 leadership panel discussion, “Driving Alliance Excellence into the Future,” moderated by Andy Eibling, CSAP, former Covance vice president of alliances, at the ASAP 2018 Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” March 26-28, 2018. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

 

Pharma executives joining Eibling for the discussion included Casey Capparelli, global product general manager in oncology at Amgen; Nancy Griffin, CA-AM, vice president and head of alliance management, global business development & licensing at Novartis; Mark Noguchi, vice president and global head, alliances and asset management, at Roche; and David S. Thompson, CA-AM, chief alliance officer, Eli Lilly and Company. (Editor’s Note: See the forthcoming April 2018 edition of eSAM Plus for more coverage of this fascinating leadership discussion.)

 

When Eibling threw out the topic of alliance management’s role in acquisitions, mergers, and divestments, and business development and licensing, he noted, “You need to differentiate between a stop and start in terms of divestments. Divestments can be ongoing. Someone in the group manages the ongoing process.”

 

Capparelli: In Amgen that holds true for small acquisitions, but large complex acquisitions need to be managed separately.

 

Thompson: You need to look to someone else to run a large acquisition.

 

Eibling: There’s lots happening in the pharma world today, but will it continue?

 

Thompson: There are more and more partnerships. The trend grows and grows. Today each alliance manager is involved with 20 to 30 alliances. How do you manage ever increasing volume? It’s hard to predict if something will come to fruition.

 

Eibling: Let’s look at the role of the alliance manager, and how it has shifted between project management and alliance management. Alliance management and project management need to be connected at the hip and carve out space through the partnership management team. There are three roles in a partnership management team. The question is who drives those team meetings? Who is accountable? Does the project manager manage the success of the alliance?

 

Thompson: Most M&A integration gets done in 100 days. The work looks the same except it’s compressed. It takes 100 days to swallow an alliance. It’s at a pace you need in an M&A.

 

Capparelli: Deal making is a transactional approach, but building trust generates respect.

 

Griffin: You build an operating model in the core so that you build consistent capabilities.

 

Noguchi: The Roche alliance group is modeled after Lilly. The skill set is there but compressed.

 

Eibling: There’s a shift between deal makers and an alliance manager with a partner. No one understands the dynamics as well as an alliance manager. With ever expanding projects, it’s the alliance manager who understands motivations and how to construct the alliance and M&A deal.

“Let’s look at value,” Eibling said, wrapping up the panel discussion. “How do you capture the value of alliance management? How do you define value?” he asked Thompson.

“Alliances are not efficient but effective,” Thompson asserted.

 

“Fear is a great motivator,” he continued. “I’ve seen too many alliances go out of existence. They focused on relationship management but didn’t expand beyond that to the legal and business risk. That contributed to their demise. They didn’t feel valued in the organization. So, in times of hardship, they’re an easy target to eliminate,” he explained.

 

“We saw it happening and so became open about our model. We measure continuation. We are adjudicated by leadership. It’s valuable to talk about your own contributions. You get the [internal] client you’re supporting to agree based on what they think—what they value or don’t value. Is this a risk reduction or efficiency game? You build to be efficient but it’s the face-to-face that often counts.  As for monetizing the value of alliance management, it’s simple. You give me a buck, and we give you back three.”

Tags:  acquisitions  alliance management  alliance manager  Amgen  Andy Eibling  Casey Capparelli  David S. Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  leadership  M&A  M&A integration  Mark Noguchi  Nancy Griffin  Novartis  partner  partnerships  Pharma executives  project manager  Roche 

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Dassault Systèmes: Out-of-the-Box Thinking in Three-Dimensional Design

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dassault Systèmes in Vélizy-Villacou­blay, Paris, France,  is a leader in three-dimensional design, visualization, and collabo­rative solutions that help customers define, simulate, and demonstrate their products in the virtual experience space. Michael Moser, global alliances network collaboration manager at Dassault Systèmes, recently shared his perspective on innovation, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking in the  soon-to-be-published Q4 Strategic Alliance Magazine cover story “Giving Birth to Innovation: The Brain Child of Out-of-the-Box Thinking.” The following Q&A is a continuation of the discussion.

What foundations do partnerships need to successfully innovate and create?

An alliance needs to be defined in terms of aligned strategy, shared objectives, a joint value proposition, and a set of guidelines that define the working together. A framework is put into place to protect the interest of either party, but there is risk that this may be considered as too limiting. In this case, I advise to focus on the original purpose of the partnership—probably defined in the early partnership definition phases—that needs to be tested and proven in the real world. What is more inspiring than focusing on a joint solution, to address a business challenge for a mutual customer or user group? With this setting, the alliance partners can unleash their full creativity for defining, developing, and marketing this joint solution.

Relate an experience you have had where out-of-the-box thinking resulted in problem solving and/or a better project outcome.

Here is an example of a very small technology partner that integrated its solution to enable testing of assembly situations in manufacturing in our platform. In this application, a real “operator” person enters the virtual world of a simulated factory environment to try out manipulations on virtual production models. Without a dedicated marketing department, they had the permanent issue of creating awareness of their solution offering, which is highly specific and needs to be positioned properly versus competitive solutions. We worked with the partner to create a partnership solution video, which is short and fit for social media use. The video summarizes the solution value (unique immersion into a virtual 3D world) and three functional benefits in a simple and upbeat way. We shared it on You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. Targeted salespeople can get the message via their attention to social media.

What do alliance managers need to know when engaged in multi-party innovation?

First, ensure that communication is not lost in silos, e.g., in individual mailboxes. Propose a platform-based communication/collaboration hub. Work in digital communities, where exchanges are logged and can be found and retrieved by all participants. Governance of the multi-party alliances also needs to be done on the platform. Ideally, the status is depicted in online dashboards. Rather than clarifying a strategic fit in a unilateral one-to-one alliance, a multi-party environment is more challenging in terms of ensuring that everyone’s interest is understood and taken into account. Mutual interest is mandatory for mutual participation in the collaboration process. The alliance manager needs to live up to the challenge of balancing these interests, at best through a mix of a formal process and informal social practices. Animating the multi-party alliance also is an important role of the alliance manager.

What are some creative ways Dassault collaborates with customers?

There are many ways we try to capture customer feedback.

Pilots: New disruptive solution approaches are often launched with a set of selected pilot customers to test concept alternatives and fine-tune the applications before a general release. The users are the best source of telling the value an application provides to solve their business challenges. Their feedback on their usage of our software is essential for providing a better experience.

Playground: In many Dassault Systèmes offices as part of the EBC (Executive Briefing Center) initiatives, we have implemented demonstration spaces where we show experiences in various domains, often specific to an industry, always addressing a specific use case. Visitors can be immersed in these experiences, and we extract their perception of the value. This way we can test solutions—even prior to their release to the market—in order to learn and improve.

User Days: Our brands invite their specific user community to events in the local geography, with the objective to pass information to them. But also to get feedback on their perception of our software and to hear their questions and propositions on what could be improved.

Digital Communities: Each brand has one or several communities in dedicated domains, which host a specific audience of users. Digital communities are a way to harvest user feedback in addition to the physical meetings—by surveys and from discussions that occur online.

Videos on Social Media: Publishing video content on the known social media platforms, centered on You Tube, has become a major communication strategy for Dassault Systèmes. 

Tags:  alliance manager  alliances  collaborations  communication  creativity  Dassault Systèmes  governance  innovation  Michael Moser  multi-party alliance¬  out-of-the-box thinking  partnership  virtual world 

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How to Make Your Alliance Stories Newsworthy (Except When You Don’t Want Them to Be!)—Part Three

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Updated: Saturday, September 30, 2017

In a lively presentation punctuated by pithy quotes, interesting cases, and vivid stories underscoring the “dos” and “don’ts” of alliance public relations, Lori McLaughlin, corporate communications director at Anthem, and ASAP Chairman Brooke Paige, CSAP, staff vice president, strategic initiatives, and chief of staff, HealthCore, explored the topic in their Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference session, “Why Keep the Good News to Yourself? Internal Partnerships for External Promotion: How to Work with Your PR/Communications Lead.” ASAP Media’s coverage of the session concludes below in Part Three of this three-part blog series.

 

Elaborating on recommended practices for sustaining stories, Paige noted that HealthCore maintains an editorial content calendar tracking key events, key milestones in collaborations (and whether they are newsworthy internally or externally), major publications or presentations, and significant accomplishments. “Not only does this become a huge part of our potential press, items on our website, LinkedIn and Twitter, but the story could make our company newsletter, our Anthem intranet, it could become talking points for senior executives in a variety of settings, and so on. So these elements are very much reused and the story is extended,” she explained.

 

“No presentation about PR would be complete without the ‘know your role in the event of a crisis’ topic,” Paige continued. “We say we need to err on the side of transparency. When a potential threat becomes known, advise your alliance partner around the possible impact.” The presenters then cited a real-life case of a reporter who believed that a partnership created a conflict of interest—and was sniffing around for proof of his allegations after discovering an old press release announcing the partnership. “We contacted the partner, said here’s the essence of allegation, the reporter is claiming some sort of conflict of interest, then we told the partner the facts and why we didn’t think there was a conflict,” Paige explained. “The partner prepped their leaders. The story did come out but it amounted to nothing. Still, we wanted to make sure we covered all our bases.”

 

McLaughlin and Paige’s final checklist for partnering with communications to tell your alliance stories:

  • Make sure you know who to work with in PR long before ready to share story.
  • Approach the team long before you’re ready.
  • Don’t ask for a press release. “Ask how they can help you tell a story to a specific audience or broader audience. That will make you look so sophisticated as you make that request,” McLaughlin emphasized.
  • Understand news value and lead with it when pitching the story to your communications team.
    Coordinate with alliance partners. Share talking points and plans across collaborators.

In response to a session participant’s question, McLaughlin wrapped up the discussion by returning to the importance of ensuring your alliance announcements are newsworthy stories—and of NOT pushing an announcement that the media would consider a throw-away put out by PR hacks.

 

“More than putting out press release, it’s pitching the story,” McLaughlin explained. “Reporters say they like me because I don’t pitch a story unless I have one—so they at least give me the benefit of doubt. [That’s important] because they get so many stories thrown at them. Certain companies shoot out a release when anything happens, but this so-called ‘news’ is not really relevant, and therefore, they don’t have that credibility that I’ve earned with media. That’s your long-term argument” when you push back on your boss’s request to issue a release on a story that isn’t so newsworthy—“you want that credibility.”

Tags:  alliance manager  alliance partner  alliances  Anthem  AstraZenica  Brooke Paige  credibility  Dow Jones News Service  FiercePharma  HealthCore  Lori McLaughlin  Medical News Today  news value  newsworthy  partnering  Pharmacist elink  pitching story  press releases  SmartBrief  spokesperson  threat  WSJ.com 

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