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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 http://asapsummit.org. 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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Closing the C-Suite's Collaboration Gap

Posted By Contributed by Jan Twombly, CSAP & Jeff Shuman, CSAP, PhD | The Rhythm of Business, Thursday, January 24, 2019

Earlier this month, we presented and recorded a webinar to expand upon our mini e-book that we wrote together with our partner Alliancesphere, Own Your Transformation: A Five-Point Agenda for Creating Your Organization’s Collaborative Leadership System. The key message of the presentation is to urge alliance professionals to take charge of closing the gap between the happy talk about the importance of partnering and the actual ability of organizations to collaborate and partner well in a digital world.

Yes, this is our soap box and it has been for many years. The difference today is all the data reporting C-Suite executives really do believe partnering is important and a core pillar of their growth and transformation strategies. They also think their organizations collaborate and partner effectively. Their employees disagree. Take a look at some data from a recent Capgemini study.[1]   

We’ve witnessed this gap in our work for years and years. For example, in a recent project assessing the current state of an alliance management practice and charting a course for its future, a senior executive told us how important alliances were to the future of the business. We then interviewed one of his senior people ostensibly responsible for an important partner. He told us he’d had only a one-hour call to familiarize himself with the role of an alliance director. No surprise, he didn’t think this was sufficient to allow him to be successful in the role. This may be an extreme case, but it illustrates the gap that exists between the belief that alliances and partnering are critical for growth and the failure to recognize that a system of collaborative leadership must become part of the organization’s culture and operating norms. It is an Achille’s heel of business transformation.

Here’s another example: A company that is remaking themselves to focus strictly on downstream go-to-market activities has outsourced all upstream research and development capabilities except project management to oversee the outsourced service providers. Outsourcing a capability is not about managing a series of projects. It is engaging with third parties to build collaborative relationships that leverage the resources of each party for mutual benefit—to achieve a synergistic relationship where 1+1>3. In other words, the reason for—the essence of— partnership.  

During the webinar, we discussed our five-point agenda for creating a collaborative leadership system that starts with owning your own transformation. You can’t expect to drive change in your organization without demonstrating how you’re changing. Every alliance professional has something in their job description and potentially in their goals and accountabilities, to “create an environment for collaboration with alliance partners,” or something similar. Specifically executing on this piece of the job has always taken a back seat to immediate revenue generation or ensuring a co-development project happens smoothly. No longer. Today—when partnering everywhere in an organization is the recipe for growth—creating that environment becomes an essential part of the job. The collaborative leadership system—the mechanism through which leadership is exercised—is what enables it.

Closing the gap between the partnering and collaboration capability CEOs think their companies have and what they actually have is essential to the digital business transformation powering growth for legacy companies and a core capability for entrepreneurial ventures. Alliance professionals are typically part of the powerful middle of the organization—the Rosetta Stone of the organization—translating senior leadership directives into operational objectives and understanding from the field and other customer-facing personnel the successes and challenges at an execution level, scaling or adjusting accordingly.  Who other than alliance professionals should be leading the charge to close the gap between what CEOs think about their organization’s ability to collaborate and the reality?

[1] Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, “The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap,” 2018 

Tags:  alliance management  collaboration  collaborative leadership system  digital culture  digital transformation  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  partnering  The Rhythm of Business 

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Five Ways to SCORE Big When Overcoming Obstacles and Conflict in Alliance Relationships (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, April 12, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Part One of this blog post covers how Candido Arreche, CA-AM, global director of portfolio & partner management at Xerox Worldwide Alliances, explained Xerox’s SCORE framework for improving alliance relationships in his 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit workshop “Onboarding Your Partner: Understanding How to Design a Partnership that Works.” Xerox adopted the framework to help overcome and make sense of cultural and relationship challenges in alliances, he explained. The template has five important plateaus:

  • Select: (target the right partners)
  • Connect (implement business and personal drivers)
  • Onboarding (create a very structured, easy onboarding process)
  • Revenue (take on and understand the sales)
  • Execute (be on task; take what doesn’t work and make it work)

Part Two of this blog post continues Arreche’s description of how the framework works through implementation.

Most alliance relationships hit a snag. The SCORE tool alerts us when a rough point is coming, Arreche explained. Before Xerox implemented this tool, the company’s partner success rate was a dismal 30 percent. Now it’s over 70 percent, he added. Alliance professionals in large organizations sometimes become enamored with building complex tools. What we really need is something like the SCORE model to focus on the process. It’s simple to use with clear standards. Our tools are typically one-sheeters outlining the steps an alliance manager needs to take and understand what we do every day, he said.

It should be leveraged to everybody working in the alliance. It’s all about continuous improvement with all relationships in the alliance: “SCORE creates a common language that gives alliance partners an easy ways to adapt their course,” he said.

You can ask useful questions with each step of SCORE. Take Select, for example: How do you know how to select the right alliance partner? Then there is Connect, which is probably the most important step. At Xerox, for example, we want our alliance and channel managers asking questions about matching business and personal drivers, Arreche explained. You can ask questions about misaligned objectives—from building a strategy session to building a joint business plan to key performance indicators and metrics. There are two types of drivers in any relationship. Business drivers, which are about the goals for being together, and personal drivers. What are the personal drivers, and how do you understand what’s important to Nathan and what important to me? How do you build trust and make sure the end goals are aligned? Which raises the question of Onboarding. If Nathan is new in the company, what are his drivers? He wants to make this work. He wants to show he has room for promotion and ascending in the company and that his new hire was a good idea. He wants to create brand awareness in his organization. How do you uncover his personal drivers in a fast, easy, simple way to get alignment with both parties? It’s important to set business and personal drivers to get commitment and maximize Revenue. “What’s tough is Execution. How are you going to make it work? What performance measures do we have? What is the timeline for execution?”

When you have SCORE for enhancing communication by designing and asking key questions, you improve relationships, which makes it easier to create and align strategy, he concluded. 

Tags:  alliance relationships  alliances  business driver  Candido Arreche  collaboration  Conflict in Alliance Relationships  connect  Cultural combinations  execute  onboarding  partner management  partners  revenue  SCORE  Select  Xerox Worldwide Alliances 

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Five Ways to SCORE Big When Overcoming Obstacles and Conflict in Alliance Relationships (Part One)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, April 11, 2018

“Every partnership is bringing two cultures together,” explained Candido Arreche, CA-AM, global director of portfolio & partner management at Xerox Worldwide Alliances. He was reminding the audience at his workshop “Onboarding Your Partner: Understanding How to Design a Partnership that Works” about the challenges associated with cultural mergers. The energized presentation recently took place at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit,  “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

Cultural combinations can be potentially explosive or provide pressure that can act as catalysts for progress and innovation. How you manage them will make the difference in the outcome. Alliances are all about relationships among people, he pointed out, while recalling a trade magazine article that stated that 80 percent of marital relationships are in divorce, separation, or undergoing counseling. In the world of alliances, 50 to 70 percent are in jeopardy. “If we are going to spend time and money to run alliances, we want to make sure they execute,” said the Six Sigma Black Belt.

He then illustrated an emergency landing to drive home his point: US Airways Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III’s historic landing on the Hudson River in 2009. The “miraculous” touchdown took place when both engines failed after a run-in with a flock of Canada geese shortly after takeoff.  Sully’s quick thinking under pressure resulted in a hair-raising yet smoothly executed landing that saved all 155 passengers on board.

“How do we execute a landing on a body of water where all passengers survive, which has never been done before?” Arreche then asked. “What was going on? What was going through the pilot’s mind? And how did he execute on it? He was communicating with the airport control tower while under a lot of pressure trying to do what was best for the passengers.”

Sully made great decisions based on three fundamentals that pilots follow, which are similar to how we build frameworks, he purported.

  • They have to aviate—they need to get from point A to point B and keep the plane in the air.
  • They have to navigate—the pilot needs to know the parameters and where he is going.
  • They have to communicate—they need to know how to work the tools to communicate.

Sometimes when we are under severe pressure in our relationships, we seem to not perform. But we need to keep our lives and the alliance going and navigate through the challenges. We need to figure out how to move quickly and overcome resistance, he said. Several years ago, Xerox adopted a framework called SCORE to help overcome and make sense of what’s happening with these types of challenges, he explained. The template has five important plateaus:

  • Select: (target the right partners)
  • Connect (implement business and personal drivers)
  • Onboarding (create a very structured, easy onboarding process)
  • Revenue (take on and understand the sales)
  • Execute (be on task; take what doesn’t work and make it work)

For an explanation of how SCORE can be used to enhance communication and seamless execution in your alliances, see Part II of this blog post. 

Tags:  alliances  business driver  Candido Arreche  collaboration  Conflict in Alliance Relationships  connect  Cultural combinations  execute  onboarding  partner management  partners  revenue  SCORE  Select  Xerox Worldwide Alliances 

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Morphing Your Partnering Philosophy in a Changing World of Digital Drivers (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, March 29, 2018

Key sectors of the economy are struggling to adapt to disruptions from digital technologies, such as the cloud. The change is resulting in new business models and service sector opportunities in areas such as security and supply chains. This article continues our coverage of the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit session “Partnering with Change in a World of Ongoing Disruption.” Presenters Joe Schramm, vice president of strategic alliances at BeyondTrust, and Morgan Wheaton, senior director, global partner alliances & channels at JDA Software, addressed the considerable transformation in company culture that is needed to better enable new partnering models. The first part of the session covered emerging industry paradigms needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced, partnering-oriented ecosystems. These additional insights and excerpts are gleaned from the second half of the session.

Wheaton: JDA had a new CEO come in a year ago, and instead of replacing people he created a team of JDA employees to create a new culture. The culture at JDA is about three key concepts. Results—JDA is obsessed with delivering customer value. Relentlessness—we relentlessly drive new learning and innovation. Teamwork—we candidly and respectfully collaborate. So what kind of cultural change is needed to better enable new partner models? [The first change is] TEAM, which stands for Together Each Achieves More, a gradual change that takes time.

Schramm: Next on the list is [that] executives need to walk the talk: High-level executive alignment is critical.

Wheaton: Celebrate mutual success: Nothing gets more attention than selling a deal. It’s so very important to get the word out when we close a deal.

Schramm: Re-educate and reinforce. This is a big one as we go after new and different partners. We need to educate ourselves on what the win is with a new partner and why to go after them.

Wheaton: Compensation matters. I’m a coin-operated machine. Salespeople do what you pay them to do. Figuring out how to drive the right behavior through compensation is important.

Schramm: Transparent, open communications. Partners are in for the whole ride, and we need to include them.

In terms of the cultural change specific to BeyondTrust, there are lots of items. We emphasize passion—approaching each day with energy and enthusiasm. Teamwork—we work together and act as one. Customer and partner focus—the most important consideration, we are 100 percent committed to meeting the requirements of our customers and partners. Innovation—we work relentlessly to improve our products and processes for the benefit of customers, partners, employees, and the company. Integrity—we are honest and consistent in our actions.

Wheaton: So can alliance leaders design “future proof” alliances that accommodate ongoing disintermediation, otherwise known as cutting out the middleman in connection with a transaction or series of transactions? My crystal ball may not tell me what future technology will be like, but I know we will be involved in partnering. You need to put metrics in place. Sometimes you can’t future proof all alliances, sometimes you need to pull the ripcord and get out. Sometimes the pesky market shifts.

In summary, Schramm and Wheaton agree on implementing these key principles:

  • Listen and survey—be aware and anticipate changes.
  • Build a culture of “partner first.”
  • “Semper Gumby”—always be flexible; be ready to change things on the fly.
  • Execute today, but keep an eye on the future—monitor what’s coming while keeping an eye on the distance.

Tags:  alliance leaders  BeyondTrust  collaborate  collaboration  cultural change  Digital drivers  ecosystem  flexible  future proof  innovation  JDA  JDA Software  Joe Schramm  Morgan Weaton  Morgan Wheaton  partner first  partnering  partners  Semper Gumby  strategic alliances 

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