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Update Your Communications File Cabinet with Good Dialogue and Trustworthy Practices

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, August 18, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Is it possible to not communicate? That was a question Minna J. Holopainen of InFlux Communications, LLC, posed to a rapt audience at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise” held in San Diego, California, last March. “You are communicating even if someone calls, and you decide to not pick up the phone. We are all at the same time engaging in communication practices. We swim in streams of communication practices all drawn from a pool of meanings developed over a lifetime,” she explained in her practical session “Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for Building Collaboration in Alliance Partnerships.”

“Think back as far as you can remember. Think of the first chair you sat on,” she coached the audience. “Think of all chairs you’ve seen or heard about? Can your chair file in you mind be like anyone else’s? They can never be exactly the same,” she said. “Now think of a more abstract example: A good friend. For some, a friend is someone who laughs at you but doesn’t bother you. To someone else, a good friend checks in every day.”

Every day we engage in a common practice that updates our files. We reconstruct each time we communicate. According to this model, communication is not merely a transmission of ideas. It is meaning and activity, explained the San Jose State University lecturer.

Holopainen then talked about the importance of maintaining our “trust” file, which is so essential in alliance partnershipsor any partnership, for that matter.  The “trust” file can be added to in positive or negative ways: “We create something. There is an outcome. What happens if things go bad? Whose fault is it? It’s shared. We are all in it together,” she added. “Learning Outcome No. 1: Trust is mainly communication.”

Relationships move into a sphere of harm when you call someone stupid, she emphasized. “You want to move to the sphere of value. How do you move from one sphere to another? In communication, you discover your differences and get challenged.”

Dialogue is also important. Speak in a way that helps others listen. Listen in a way so that others will want to speak, she said. Pay attention. Dialogue has three key components:

  1. Hold your ground. Say what you want.
  2. Be open to the other, not in the way that you can trick someone later, but be open to be changed by the action.
  3. Stay in the tension between 1. and 2.:  Keep a balance between autonomy and collaboration.

She then applied her communication theories to cross-cultural skills. You can remake good cultural communication skills by practicing good communication behaviors. You need to manage both the relationship and the task, she said. 

“Instead of teaching ‘This is how to communicate with this one specific culture,’ it’s more difficult than that. Instead of teaching specific skills for Japanese, we need to teach skills to deal with diversity. Be open to your ear and ask: ‘Am I making this person uncomfortable?’”

Communication is an art. You make it work for you in the way it fits in your relationships, she noted. But be sensitive about when it’s appropriate. Storytelling is a great technique: It carries the listener into the story world … and into a framework that starts making sense, she explained. When you apply it to the situation, you understand it better and can start feeling empathy more easily. “There are also organizational stories. It is a whole system of values packaged,” she concluded. In the art of storytelling, “you can be strategic about how to make good stories that are inclusive.” 

Tags:  Alliance Partnerships  Communication  cross-cultural  culture  InFlux Communications  Minna J. Holopainen  storytelling 

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Academia and Industry—Creating a Seamless Fit (Part Two)

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In the session “Making the Most of Industry-Academia Collaborations,” Mark Coflin, CSAP, head of alliance management at Shire Pharmaceuticals was joined by his colleague, Joe Sypek, PhD, director and external science lead at Shire, as they explored cultural differences between partners in academia and industry working together to find a cure for a disease (see Part I of this blog post) http://www.strategic-alliances.org/blogpost/1143942/277595/Academia-and-Industry-Partnerships-Creating-a-Seamless-Fit--Part-I. Joining them at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” were Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute’s (SBP’s) Paula Norris, PhD, laboratory director and project manager, and Sarah Hudson, PhD, R&D project and operations associate director. The 2017 Summit was held Feb. 28-March 2 in San Diego, Calif.

 

Norris works with principal investigators (PIs) to develop strategic plans for lab operations and policies. On any given project, she might work with four or five partners at a time. Some are smaller start-up companies; others are larger pharmaceutical companies. “In the past, we were grant-centric, but now less so as we work with industries,” she explained. “We explore a partner’s expectations, then go back to our group and discuss what we need to do to make it work. But there’s a language gap with industry. The language in industry is not necessarily the same as ours. So at times, there’s miscommunication. But we’ve gotten better at asking questions about what they mean, especially when we’re not sure [of] what they want or their end goal.”

 

“We’ve spent time working on culture and skill seton education across the institute. For example, what is a hit or lead?” she asked rhetorically. “We need to educate in terms of the basic terms of an alliance partner’s language.”

 

“It’s also important to hone in on expectations. If partners have different expectations, it can cause problems,” Norris stated. “Instead of going off on a tangent, we need to understand the scope and what the goals are and stay focused. Otherwise, we will fail to line up with the milestones. The criteria are only met when the milestone is achieved. “

 

“It can be a challenge if a partner says it’s a ‘no go,’ and we think there is an avenue. We need to remember that the money comes from a partner. If there’s scope creep, we need to draw them back to achieve the milestone. To do that you must have the right people involved and have communicated broadly. You need to define the statement of workmake sure the language is conciseso both parties are clear about what they need to do for the project.”

 

Hudson acknowledged that she and Norris are proud of the innovation and knowledge base of PIs, but to retain the culture, academia must adapt to make industry-academia projects run more smoothly. This only happens if someone is designated as the point person: “It’s quite important for long-term capabilities. A manager makes sure deadlines are met for milestones.”

As the leader of the project manager group at SBP, Hudson’s role is to partner with scientific project leaders in collaborations and initiatives. “These pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as alliances with other academic institutions, all have the same flavor but run differently,” Hudson conceded. “So, we do what we must to adapt with projects run by a joint steering committee.”

It’s important not to assume everything is going well, Coflin added.  As in every kind of relationship, the person talking needs to be truthful so that members of the team come to you with issues.  Being a good partner involves communicationsmonthly meetings. “Scientists tend to be reserved so they won’t get scooped. You need to create trust. Labs operate in a silo working by themselves, but to have an effective partnership, you need to work in a collaborative environment,” he said.

 

Scientists need to develop basic alliance management skills, Hudson stressed. “Because we don’t have large infrastructure, it’s important that we impart these skills to scientists so we can be proactive, instead of merely responsive.”

 

Since their groups have been working on alliance skills, both Hudson and Norris have personally seen a difference in greater productivity and efficiency through collaboration as their projects progress.

 

Sypek agrees that things break down when there is a lack of communication. If you are to reach the next level, you need to feel comfortable about talking with partners, he said. “The more you communicate, the better you get. But each project must be treated as individual, as unique, especially if the PI and/or goals are different.”

 

“What you are doing is transformative to an institution, Coflin stated. “Just as we do at Shire, you must prepare your institution to partner. Despite the fact they might be uncomfortable, it’s important to give them tools to be ready to partner. That sort of preparation is how you build capability.”

 

The entire panel then agreed on one axiom: A common goal helps make it work!

Part I of this blog post focuses on Shire Pharmaceutical’s perspective on academic-industry partnerships. http://www.strategic-alliances.org/blogpost/1143942/277595/Academia-and-Industry-Partnerships-Creating-a-Seamless-Fit--Part-I

Tags:  alliance partners  alliance skills  biotech  collaboration  communication  Joe Sypek  Mark Coflin  partner  partner language  partners  Paula Norris  principal investigators  Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute  Sarah Hudson  Shire Pharmaceuticals  transformation 

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Dynamic Summit Workshop Promises Practical Tips and Hands-On Exercises To Help Manage and Prevent Alliance Conflict

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, February 20, 2017

Candido Arreche, CA-AM, global director of portfolio & partner management, Xerox worldwide alliances, is known for his captivating, insightful, and fun hands-on workshops at ASAP events. Arreche will be returning to the role with a new six-hour workshop “How to Resolve Conflict in Your Alliance,” from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tues., Feb. 28 at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. USA. During a recent interview, Arreche shared his vision for the daily practice of conflict resolution that can keep an alliance relationship moving and growing.

Why a workshop on conflict resolution?

In every partnership, there is always conflict. You have a honeymoon period, but when you roll up sleeves and do the work, there is always conflict. A lot of alliances stagnate because of conflict or misunderstanding. How we work alliances, how we manage that conflict is how we will get that alliance relationship moving again. Conflict resolution is not only the stuff we have to do when we hit the conflict, but what do we do beforehand. Good conflict management works at how to manage negative conflict and how to prevent it.

Do you have any techniques for getting stagnant relationships moving again?

My workshop is mostly exercises to build trust and relationships to understand what the problem or conflict is to be able to work together. The focus is on how to build collaboration when there is an impasse in your alliance relationship. I teach theory, but that is only one-tenth of the workshop. Nine-tenths is everyday collaborative relationship building exercises. I teach them to change behavior patterns. People leave understanding the true problem and take a bag of useful, everyday tools. I also apply some of my Six Sigma exercises.

Can you give an example of one of these exercises?

One of the biggest challenges in problem solving is that people really don’t understand the root cause of the issue. Even management, when it has a problem, wants to solve the problem instead of trying to understand the problem. We are all moving so fast that we want to jump the gun and fix it. But fixing the problem doesn’t always fix the communication problem. I have one Six Sigma exercise called The Five Whys, in which you go through five whys to get to the true root cause before you start fixing it. You can only do that in a collaborative fashion. You need to work together to find common root causes.

Communication seems key to the process. What else is critical?

There are four important C’s in partnerships: communication, culture, continuity, and commitment. A lack of any one of those can contribute to conflict. We’ve talked about communication a bit; so let’s look at the cultural aspect. If you create better communication protocols, clearly understand the commitment of each organization around the alliance, and keep the continuity going, then when you run into the culture piece, you have the building blocks already in place. It’s like a linked chain, and you can’t tackle the cultural component without the others. In terms of continuity, it’s important to keep the alliance moving and fluid. If your alliance stops moving, you will have to overcome the friction again. If a member of the alliance is no longer involved, then it’s going to take an enormous amount of effort to bring someone up to speed. If there is a break in continuity, things stagnate or stop. It’s better to apply these tools daily than at the negotiation table. We want to roll up sleeves and do things that are more applicable to the day-to-day. Finally, people don’t understand how severe the conflict can be when you don’t have committed partners and organizations. One of the best skills of a good leader is good communication and seeking mutual commitment.

When do you know when a partnership is not worth saving?

Nobody likes a sunset in a relationship when you have vested interests. If there is a lack of commitment, delay after delay, and the amount of conflict is escalating, then it’s time to take a hard look at your situation. However, if your partner on the other side of the table is not equally committed, that may lead to bringing in an alternate. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all conflict is bad. It can be turned to your advantage. Conflict can become an ally. 

Tags:  alliance  ally  Candido Arreche  collaboration  communication  Conflict  conflict resolution  continuity  culture  partner  partnership  partnerships  Xerox 

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New ASAP Workshop Offers Toolbox for Adapting to Industry Change with an Agile, Lean Alliance Management Practice

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, September 8, 2016

“Do the people in your company really understand alliance management?” That was a key question Lynda McDermott, CA-AM, president of EquiPro International, a consulting and coaching company specializing in leadership, team, and business development for Fortune 500 and medium-size companies, posed during the workshop “Lean and Agile: Next Generation Alliance Management” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference Sept. 7-9: “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed” at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, Boston. 

“No-o-o-o-o!” came the resounding response throughout the room. 

The new instructive workshop is designed to improve the role of alliance managers and familiarize participants with what’s needed today to streamline their alliance management practice. Co-facilitated by Annick De Swaef, CSAP, managing partner of Consensa Consulting, it addresses pressing industry changes, such as the impact of digitalization and cross-industry partnering, through basic questions and key objectives such as: 

  • Identifying that your team’s current alliance best practices and skills are future-
  • Assessing if these practices and skills are lean and agile

 The facilitators focused on the three practices they consider critical to a successful partnership: Framework, team dynamics, staying lean and agile. 

For a successful framework, your team needs to be aware of strategic investment, the alliance lifecycle, value co-creation, and alliance governance, McDermott said.

“So many clients don’t understand alliance governance. It’s about all the people in the room, different experiences, different cultures, and how I can service this team so we can come together in this challenge,” she added. 

Participants at tables were then asked to take part in an interactive game with building blocks, and McDermott linked the unique outcomes of each group to the reality many alliance teams face. “What you think is an alliance may not be what someone else thinks looks like an alliance,” she said. “We are trying to take the burden off of you of being the sole person responsible for the success of the alliance.” 

 “Poor implementation of the governance structure is the No. 1 reason alliances fail, according to the research,” she added. “Never assume that what you know is what everybody else knows. Your team members need to be able to see the big picture and how alliances fit into corporate strategy. It’s important that you provide sufficient learning material and experiences to other members of the team.” 

She then probed another key question: “In general, do you think collaboration is a skill that comes naturally to people?” 

“No-o-o-o!” came the cacophonic response again. 

“Toddlers don’t collaborate. They have sandbox issues,” she responded. “It depends on how you’ve been socialized. And people have their own points of view and agenda. But you can learn how to get better.” 

Fundamental to good team dynamics is the concept of the ladder of trust; sensitivity to cultural differences; a networked organization; and collaborative skills, De Swaef added. Pay attention to spoilers of those healthy team dynamics, such as: 

  • A lack of trust
  • Communication that is not always open, which could be cultural
  • Ill-defined responsibilities
  • Differences in company sizes, power struggles

“An alliance manager is not a therapist. Never assume people will behave collaboratively,” she said. “Make sure you create those skills in a safe setting. Give them training on conflict management from the start. Reward your team. Keep the team dynamics flowing in a positive way. And award problem solving, which is often not done.”

The third critical component is to stay lean and agile, she advised. Lean is about proceeding without wandering around and following up with steps in the shortest possible ways. Agile is as fast as possible, but in an interactive way where you reduce the risk for your organization, she continued. “It’s important to be a shape shifter when you are working with a partner. You need to rejuvenate your alliance practices,” she added, while citing the analogy of the hare and tortoise. 

“There is so much regulation and compliance that the culture creates the tortoise,” said McDermott of the challenges that arise particularly in life sciences and health care. “The question becomes, are you so tied to that that you can’t become agile” she continued. 

“When doing alliances with IT, not many companies are turtles. Those kinds of alliances are coming into the [biopharma] industries,” De Swaef noted. “My way or the highway is over.” 

Empower your teams, map out processes, and figure out where they can be more efficient, innovative, and creative. “You are not a therapist, but you are a change facilitator,” observed McDermott. “Think about the least developed competency or best practice in your organization, and then go to the ASAP sessions and find an answer. ASAP is really in the process of trying to connect with you to develop your teams and provide training so you can make sure your teams can learn and connect with each other with a lean and agile mindset.” 

Tags:  alliance manager  Annick De Swaef  biopharma  communication  Consensa Consulting  EquiPro International  Framework  governance  IT  ladder of trust  life sciences  Lynda McDermott  staying lean and agile  team dynamics 

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Minding Your P’s & Cues When Managing an International Alliance: Lessons Learned for Citrix and Fujitsu

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2016

Running an alliance is a lot like running a marathon, said John-Marc Clark, managing director of global SI sales at Citrix Systems. “Both cover long distances at a fast pace over a long period of time. Strategy, planning, perseverance, consistent training, and teamwork are critical success factors.  And you can measure the results,” he noted during his talk “Going Global: When the Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts,” at the 2016 Global Alliance Summit“Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.  

Clark has been “running” in international alliance marathons for years for Florida-based Citrix—with record-breaking companies such as Tokyo-based Fujitsu, an information technology equipment and services company. Fijitsu is Citrix’s No. 1 partner out of the company’s 10,000 partners, said Clark. It is the largest IT company in Japan—providing technology ranging from super computers to smart phones. “Two or three of the largest Citrix-led deals worldwide were with Fijitsu. We share a pipeline, and we have an open kimono in regard to our business together. We have top-down sponsorship at the CEO level for entire regions, which is very important.” 

The metrics show the partnership is “growing like crazy,” he added. The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) has been 15 percent over five years for Citrix-based bookings. “Both companies bring tremendous assets to the equation” and incredible customers, such as the German Federal Employment Agency, which is working on locating jobs for one million refugees streaming in from Syria, he noted.   

This marathon “has really been a fantastic journey,” he continued, while launching into the fascinating cultural aspects of doing business with a Japanese company. In the beginning, the 15-year plus partnership “was not a true global alliance. It was more like an assembly of relationships. I was not an alliance manager—I was asked to go into this role because I am highly international. I speak four languages,” he explained. “I knew no one at Fijitsu, which was a big problem.” In one early meeting, “the Fijitsu participants never said a word,” he recalled. “It was more like a ceremonial meeting.” 

As he studied Japanese culture and the new business dynamics, Citrix’s alliance with Fijitsu blossomed. The following hurdles were critical in developing the international partnership, Clark said: 

  • Be like Tom Sawyer, who convinced 15 people to paint a fence—build virtual teams and communication. Don’t make it your project. Make it our project. Use E-mail distribution lists and Share File on the cloud. Communicate constantly, and do your best to link people together. Go out of your way to take your alliance into company events, and always have a one-line elevator pitch. Global organizations don’t collaborate very well: “Your role is the connective tissue.”
  • Don’t default to travel, but don’t underestimate the power of travel. If you really want to build a relationship, go there to seal the deal: “’When in doubt, go on the road,’ a boss once told me. In the beginning, it was imperative. It legitimized me in the eyes of Fijitsu,” he recalled.
  • Establish trust and integrity: If trust is lost, all future negotiation is lost. In a massive and complex organization, identify the critical people with which to establish relationships: “I first worked on integrity and building solid relationships because it was a way to handle potentially contentious and litigious situations.”
  • Create and review a plan; apply precise metrics. Have a tight explanation on what the value proposition is for your company, your partner, and the client. Act on things that are measurable. Read the book The Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey.
  • Have well-written, organized, and fair contracts. “When I came onboard, there were 70 contracts with Fijitsu. It was like black magic: We had people who only knew what the terms were. There is only one now. I believe in the model that when Dec. 31 comes around, everything should auto-renew and harmonize,” he added.

Tags:  alliance manager  Citrix Systems  communication  Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)  contracts  culture  Fijitsu  global alliance  IT  John-Marc Clark  Metrics  partnership  The Four Disciplines of Execution 

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