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School of Thought: Three Case Studies Illustrate How to Train Your Alliance Pros

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Sunday, August 16, 2020

Training is still a priority to corporations around the world, according to research from Vantage Partners. More than $80 billion was spent on all forms of coursework in 2019, but how much of that was dedicated to teaching formal alliance best practices? Not much, according to Ben Siddall, partner at Vantage Partners, who revealed that the same research found almost half of companies invested zero or few resources in teaching collaboration skills.

Siddall and his fellow partner at Vantage Jessica Wadd took some of their time to talk about the benefits of making this investment in their on-demand 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit session “Alliance Management Skill Building: Case Studies Across Industries,” where they presented a trio of case studies showing that successful collaborative training can take many forms.

Before delving into the actual use cases, Wadd shared that organizations that are best-in-class in executing collaborations have devoted resources—usually on a large scale—to fostering the following skills within their employees: creative joint problem solving, managing emotions, collaboration, communication, influence, conflict management, change management, and facilitation. She outlined three broad categories of skills to help companies tailor training to the needs of their troops: 1) analytical (i.e., technical knowledge), 2) behavioral (i.e., mindset-oriented), and 3) blended—talents that require a mix of the first two skills. As Wadd and Siddall would subsequently reveal, the organization’s overall training objectives, as well as the company and department culture, often dictate which format and skill-development exercises are best for a given situation. 

Come Together: Salespeople Gather to Network, Share, and Learn

Wadd outlined the first case study, which saw a $3 billion tech company design a certification program to ensure that its sales-oriented alliance team developed the talents needed to manage a large stockpile of go-to-market partnerships. This organization was at “level 2” on a four-point scale rating organizational collaborative capability, where level 1 signified a low alliance proficiency and a propensity to engage in partnerships on an ad hoc basis and level 4 indicated that collaboration was coded in an organization’s DNA. The organization envisioned moving up two levels by teaching a variety of executives from within and outside of the alliance practice the basic tenets of “Alliance 101,” including partner value creation, coopetition, multiparty problem solving, collaboration and influence, negotiation, matrix usage, and account planning.

This organization determined that in-person training would best fit its sales-centric culture—its charges “craved interpersonal interaction,” Wadd said. Training sessions served as a reunion of sorts where the largely dispersed employee base could gather to experience firsthand “the value of getting together with their colleagues, sharing experiences, networking with each other, and building a knowledge of what others had done,” as Wadd recounted. The actual sessions were organized into four broader tracks:

  1. Alliance concepts and best practices: Alliance management basics, change management, and coopetition
  2. Understanding partner business models and alliance business plans: Customer value creation and value chain analysis, and account planning and strategy development
  3. Advanced collaboration and influence: Multiparty problem solving, negotiation, and general collaboration and influence skills
  4. Roles and responsibilities (in the organization and within the alliance itself): Working in a matrix, coaching, and talent development

Learners were officially certified when they demonstrated competency in these skills, not upon completion of the courses. They were evaluated based on a three-part assessment: 1) a qualitative review by the trainee’s manager or sales leader, 2) a 34-question multiple-choice test, and 3) a presentation of two case studies demonstrating the application of alliance principles in real-life scenarios.

Biopharma AMs Ease into Self-Guided Alliance Journeys

On the other side of the spectrum of training methods was the largely customizable, self-service program architected by a level-3 $30 billion global pharma company that relied on partnering for growth. These alliance managers were proficient in the basics of alliance management, but they were increasingly engaging in early-stage partnerships, a departure from the largely late-stage collaborations the team was used to. With a decentralized team scattered in multiple geographies, this pharmaceutical giant took the opposite tack of the previous use case and created a library of prerecorded webinars and an accessible central alliance toolkit that provided a “baseline and discipline in how they engaged in alliance relationships,” according to Siddall.

Prospective students could assess their training needs through surveys and self-assessment tools. Employees had different needs depending on the types of alliances they worked on and the particular skills required for their respective engagements. Each individual could mine this central repository of virtual real-time learning sessions, classroom sessions, self-guided learning, one-on-one coaching, and community-based learning to create “their own learning journey out of that landscape,” said Siddall. “Folks were able to tailor what they needed and how they got it to their specific constraints, all within the construct of the core alliance management tools, processes, and playbook.”

Pharma Company “Layers” AM, Leadership, and Governance Training on Thick

Another biopharma company was looking to advance its alliance practice from a level-2 standing and become the coveted “partner of choice” in its market. With most of the employees engaged in its partnerships centrally located in a few offices, the company opted for a classroom style and a syllabus designed for alliance professionals. It decided to “layer” leadership training on top of the basic alliance curriculum, and then codeliver the entire offering to the rest of the organization in an “open enrollment” format, in Wadd’s retelling.

Within a few years, the course was heavily attended by alliance first-timers and other employees whose managers felt that they could benefit from learning core collaborative competencies. These classes were eventually complemented with online learning resources, as well. The program evolved to cater to specific governance needs across the alliance portfolio. Although they were not required, executives who were appointed to committees were urged to take courses that were conceived specifically for these roles, as well as half-day sessions that took place a few times a year where committee appointees could network, share ideas, learn from each other, and enhance their skills.

Integrating alliance training for all levels and roles in this fashion “makes sense when you have a limited budget,” in Wadd’s estimation.

Three Different Ways to the Next Level

Each of these three use cases relied on very different means to train alliance managers and non-alliance personnel in the core tenets of alliance management, yet they each molded stronger alliance managers and elicited better results from their collaborations. The certification program expanded the number of tools in the team’s arsenal, engaged employees from other departments, and increased the value of the portfolio to the point where alliances now contribute 40 to 50 percent of the company’s domestic revenue growth. The biopharma giant’s self-administered training similarly expanded the role and visibility of alliance management within the organization. More important, the efficient use of resources ensured that the practice could “optimize the use of [its] scarce central alliance expert time and apply [it] only to the highest-value challenges [it] faced,” said Siddall. The last training helped the alliance management team better defuse potentially volatile situations, reduced the number of escalations to senior governance committees, and produced better resolutions of the issues that were brought to senior management. The alliance practices of the first two organizations have reached level-4 status, while the latter pharmaceutical company has moved from level 2 to 3.

Although these case studies make it crystal clear that there is no “single silver bullet” for alliance training, Siddall outlined a few common principles in achieving collaborative training goals among them:

  1. Think about the learning journey as a process, not an event. “You can’t create collaboration, influence, [and] the kinds of complex skills alliance managers need at a one-time event with no prework, no follow-up, [and] no action learning,” said Siddall.
  2. Make sure all subject matter is contextualized. “Generic content will not be as impactful. Folks won’t develop the skills, and they won’t be as engaged,” counseled Siddall.
  3. Instructors should have real-world expertise and speak the same language as attendees.
  4. Emphasize practical application. Siddall recommended a “learning laboratory” format where students apply concepts to real-world scenarios.
  5. Think carefully about format,” Siddall exhorted, hypothesizing that analytical-category learning outlined by Wadd earlier in the presentation might lend itself to self-guided tools, while behavioral and blended training may necessitate live, interactive sessions.

“Alliance Management Skill Building: Case Studies Across Industries” is one of about two dozen 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit sessions available on demand to Summit registrants. ASAP members and Summit registrants can access great knowledge like this that applies to all industries and all phases of the alliance life cycle.

Because in the world of alliance management, the learning never stops. 

Tags:  alliance best practices  Alliance Management  Alliance Pros  alliances  Ben Siddall  biopharma  case studies  certification  collaboration skills  Jessica Wadd  partner  portfolio  resources  Skill Building  Vantage Partners 

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ASAP Recognizes and Celebrates 2020 Chapter Achievements

Posted By Kimberly Miller, Sunday, August 16, 2020

ASAP chapters build local, alliance best practices communities by providing regional programs and networking events. Chapters are volunteer led by some of ASAP’s most active and engaged members. Through their passion for alliance and partnership management, they invest their time and energy in planning and delivering events with a diversity of topics and speakers equal in quality to those experienced at ASAP global conferences.

Current active chapters include California, France, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, New England, North Carolina, and the UK.

This year three chapters earned commendations for their achievements, dedication, and delivery of local community events.

The UK Chapter is being recognized for reenergizing the chapter this past year by building a leadership team, growing the local ASAP community, securing event sponsorship, and expanding cross industry content. The chapter executed three events that received many complimentary reviews for quality content and networking activity.

The Midwest Chapter has consistently delivered 3-4 well-received programs each year, offering valuable content, and kept an ongoing presence in the alliance community. The chapter accomplished this with the leadership of strong volunteers across a large geography.

The New England Chapter has not rested on their past achievements. They maintained momentum with an active and engaged leadership evolving an event team model that has led them to consistently deliver interactive programs of quality and interest to their regional alliance community. Furthermore, the chapter continues to engage new ASAP certified team members.

Congratulations and thank you to the chapter leadership teams. These ASAP volunteers remind us that the strength of our community lies in each of us through our engagement, contributions, and investment of time.

Tags:  certification  Chapters  community  leadership  partnership management  programs 

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‘Building Corporate Capability for Collaboration’: Pre-Summit Workshop Attendees Assess their Organizations’ Readiness for the ISO 44001 Standard for Business Collaboration

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, March 27, 2018

If you think your organization meets a certifiably high standard of collaboration excellence just because you’re an ASAP member and employing best practices—well, you just might be right. On Monday, March 26, several dozen ASAP Global Alliance Summit attendees were able to validate their assumptions and measure the level of their organization’s collaborative capability against the International Standards Organization’s (ISO) 44001 standard for business collaboration and ASAP’s Handbook of Alliance Management. Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP, principal of Phoenix Consulting Group, and Parth Amin, CSAP, principal of Alliance Dynamics, LLC, presented an in-depth ISO 44001 preconference workshop at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida USA.

“What is the standard? People tell me you can’t standardize a relationship—they are all so different,” Watenpaugh noted in her opening comments. “And this is true—but we know from ASAP that there is a common life cycle and approaches that make alliances more successful.” More to the point, she continued, “It’s a framework, not a rigid process. It doesn’t tell you how to have a process or governance, it just tells that you need to address that.” The standard is designed for broad applicability, she added. “It enables organizations of all sizes—you can be a two-person organization and certify.” Regardless of organization size, when two or more organizations partner, “having a common model, language, framework, makes partnering more successful because it reduces friction.”

The ISO 44001 standard “also recognizes cultural differences” and, “as a standard, it’s very unique in promoting collaborative behavior,” Watenpaugh said. “Most standards are about processes, how you manage those processes, and that’s part of it as well—but there is high emphasis on having collaborative behavior and culture.”

The first part of the 90-minute session focused on how ASAP certification and best practices complement and accelerate ISO certification. Watenpaugh and Amin walked workshop participants through a collaborative maturity model based on the fusion of the ISO Standard and the ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management: A Practitioner’s Guide. Amin discussed new tools and then had attendees utilize a live assessment app that, based on the responses, scored their organizations’ ability to deliver high-performing collaborations. Attendees also received (on a memory stick) a comprehensive implementation guide that maps the ISO 44001 standard to the ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management.

Amin, an evangelist for the ISO standard who has worked closely with ASAP partner New Information Paradigms to develop the assessment tool, emphasized “the importance of relationships to CEOs.” He and Watenpaugh—leader the US technical advisory group for the ISO standard who previously led the revamping of the ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management several years ago—addressed, from an enterprise perspective, why relationships struggle in practice. “Getting value from collaboration is pretty hard,” Amin said. Amin and Watenpaugh talked about how a standard helps to get that value—on an individual, organizational, and partner level—and how ASAP best practices and certification contribute to the standards.

Assessing Readiness for ISO 44001
Amin and Watenpaugh walked through “the initial steps for certification—focusing on the assessing your organization’s readiness and the assessment tool itself,” said Amin, referring to a 20-question assessment app developed by the UK-based New Information Paradigms. Participants then roll up their sleeves for the remainder of the session to “do the assessment live, see their scores, talk about what were some of the ‘ah ha’ moments and surprises,” Amin said, noting that a diverse group of executives participated in the session. “We have broad range of industries represented—from academia, finance, medical device, pharma, high tech, etc.—and a broad range of executive levels—CEOs,  directors, managers, and so on,” he said.

Amin and Watenpaugh “brainstormed on how best to lead our session,” Amin said. “Should it be educational or interactive? We figured it would be something of both, instead of us preaching the whole hour.”

See John W. DeWitt’s recent feature article in the February issue of eSAM Plus for more about the ISO 44001 standard, including excerpts from the February 15, 2018 ASAP Netcast Webinar on the topic with Watenpaugh, Amin, and Cisco collaboration guru Ron Ricci, who discussed “Is Your CEO Challenging You to Go Faster? Why a Collaboration Standard Can Help.”

Tags:  Alliance Dynamics  alliance management  alliances  ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management  certification  International Standards Organization’s (ISO) 44001  Norma Watenpaugh  Parth Amin  Phoenix Consulting Group  standardize a relationship 

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What’s Brewing in the 2016 Biopharma Conference Beaker? | Part 2

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In a recent interview, ASAP CEO Mike Leonetti, CSAP, provided a sampling of what’s to come at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference. He offered insights into the changing landscape for partnerships and how alliance managers and others need to adapt, as well as a preview of speakers and cutting edge sessions and workshops. 

What about ASAP? What’s brewing in the beaker and will be shared at the conference?

We will be unveiling, and introducing the author of, ASAP’s new study “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” which is scheduled for release after the conference as ASAP’s 6th State of Alliances study. You can read a preview of the study and view some of the research data in the upcoming Summer Strategic Alliance Magazine. Dr. Shawn Wilson, the author, has worked with ASAP to provide financial and economic return on investment (ROI) analytics that are a direct outcome of alliance/partnership management excellence.

What are some of the cutting edge, not-to-be-missed sessions you recommend?

While every session is going to be fantastic, the session that discusses digital or tech partnering capabilities, “New Partnerships between High Tech and BioPharma and the Alliance Management Practices to Support Them,” led by Russ Buchanan, CSAP, head of corporate alliances, Xerox Corporation, and “New Partnerships Between High Tech and BioPharma and the Alliance Management Practices to Support Them,” facilitated by Donna Peek, CSAP, director, partner enablement & operations at SAS Institute, will be timely. The unveiling of ASAP’s research and “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” by Shawn Wilson, in conjunction with Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, who is presenting Vantage Partners’ research findings, should not be missed.  I think the sessions on “Strategic Perspectives on a Partnership's First 100 Days” offer a new twist on partnering with new players. Another session on partnering in China addresses the crucial need to understand and learn about that country, “A New Model for Western and Chinese Pharmaceutical Partnering,” by Brent Harvey, CA-AM, director, alliance management at Eli Lilly and Company.

Every year ASAP provides workshops for the alliance management toolbox. What’s new in the box this year?

There are several fantastic “Tools and Techniques” pre-conference workshops, the CA-AM and CSAP prep workshops, the Eli Lilly and Company “Alliance Management, Tools and Techniques, “ which never fails to draw rave reviews, as well as one from Candido Arreche, CA-AM, global director of portfolio & partner management, six sigma black belt at Xerox Worldwide Alliances, on “How to Resolve Conflict in Your Alliance.” New to ASAP is the workshop “Next Generation Alliance Management, Lean and Agile,” facilitated by Lynda McDermott, CA-AM, president of Equipro International, and Annick De Swaef, CSAP, president of Consensa, which will preview ASAP’s new corporate alliance management and certification program designed to offer a customized workshop for a company wishing to quickly add to its partnership capability and value creation.

To view the program and download brochure information, go to www. asapweb.org/biopharma.

Tags:  Alliance Management  Annick DeSwaef  Brent Harvey  Candido Arreche  certification  Consensa  digital  Donna Peek  Dr. Shawn Wilson  Eli Lilly and Company  Equipro International  Lynda McDermott  partnership  Russ Buchanan  SAS  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners  Xerox Worldwide Alliances 

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