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‘Collaboration Is Not a Natural Phenomenon’: Mapping a TE-AM Road to Successful Alliances, Part Two

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Thursday, September 14, 2017

“Study after study has shown that collaboration is not a natural phenomenon. It’s more normal to be competitive or to work within your team (tribe),” according to Lynda McDermott, (CA-AM), president of EquiPro International, Ltd., an international management consulting firm which specializes in leadership, team and business development for the Fortune 500, midsized companies, and professional services firms. McDermott made this assertion during her pre-conference workshop, “Next Gen Alliance Management: Moving your Organization to Ecosystem Performance Excellence,” one of the sessions on opening day of the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaboration: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” held September 13-15 in Cambridge, Mass. USA. (See Part One of ASAP Media’s two-part blog coverage of the workshop, a highly abbreviated version of the customized all-day ASAP TE-AM Training course McDermott offers to alliance professionals.)

 

The purpose of the all-day workshop McDermott teaches is to make alliances future proof. Based on exhaustive research, the ASAP TE-AM Training is designed to help put that structure in place so that teams that undergo the training can become a preferred alliance partner. The question is, how do we get from a non-collaborative group to one that effectively functions as a team and actively collaborates with partners?

 

McDermott took a head count of how many attendees considered themselves to be alliance professionals, regardless of their title. Most in the room raised their hand, except for one man who is involved in creating a start-up. She then asked, as alliance professionals, what skills or knowledge do they need? The responses ranged from the ability to communicate, having an awareness of resources, and seeing the overall picture, to understanding their roles and learning “what can be shared and what can’t, and when to share.”  

 

Even if people are not in an official role, they need to be on board with creating and sustaining an alliance, McDermott asserted. They need to know what the best practices are as well as which skills are needed.  But even after acquiring the needed skills, rarely might individuals be truthfully assessed as being part of a partnership, even an informal one. Partners need to do more than exchange business cards and talk on the phone periodically. For many, despite their training, nothing further happens because their training was geared toward individuals and a development of their unique skills. It is not targeted to acquiring group skills with a team that can then move on to build an effective alliance.

To address this oversight, ASAP applied mapping to figure out which techniques might work and which might not.  The result was an approach to creating better alliance teams—an approach intended to be customized to individual organizations.

 

The mapping involves the creation of three benchmark assessments with corresponding questions. The questions are grouped around a Framework assessment, Team Dynamics assessment and a Lean and Agile assessment. Based on responses to the questions, teams can assess what works and where they were most weak. Following the assessments, a road map can be based on areas that need the most development. This roadmap is a work plan that requires team action—which requires achieving a buy-in specific to that team.

“It’s important to get them on the same page,” McDermott explained. “The point is to teach people collaborate skills that involve skill-building exercises and debriefings. Sometimes, these assessments need to be refreshed every six months or so to keep the team on track,” she added.

 

“It’s also important to build a network that respects differences. There will always be cultural differences. The dynamic of adversarial conflict vs. building trust is always present. If a team isn’t having conflict, they will not be able to effectively organize,” she cautioned. (Be sure to read the Q3 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine’s in-depth coverage of the topic of conflict management—which includes insights from McDermott and other experts on how to use creative conflict to advantage.) “Ask, how can we work together? The degree to which this can be accomplished improves the efficiency of an alliance, despite conflict. Truthfully, there will always be conflict, but you learn to manage it.”

 

Additional words of advice McDermott offered include:

  • Never believe that people naturally behave collaboratively.
  • Remember, you are not a therapist but a facilitator.
  • You must talk at deep level when something’s not right—for instance, there may be power issues, gender issues, etc.

Finally, McDermott noted, the TE-AM workshop is fast. It helps to focus on the strategic side of alliance management. It provides a process to uncover the gaps. “It allows the group to discover the group,” she said.

Tags:  alliance  alliance manager  Framework assessment  Lean and Agile  Lynda McDermott  partner  Strategic Alliance Magazine  Team Dynamics assessment  TE-AM Training  training 

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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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Academia and Industry Partnerships—Creating a Seamless Fit (Part I)

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, June 2, 2017

Though their organizations are quite different, the shared goal partners in an academia-industry life sciences alliance is to find a cure to address the disease, emphasized Mark Coflin, CSAP, an oncologist and head of alliance management at Shire Pharmaceutical, during a candid, rapid-fire discussion on the cultural differences between academia and industry. Coflin kicked off a session featuring several panelists  discussing “Making the Most of Industry-Academia Collaborations” during thePartnering for Performance in Life Sciences” track at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28-March 2 in San Diego, Calif.

 

Joining Coflin on the panel was Paula Norris, PhD, laboratory director and project manager at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP); Sarah Hudson, PhD, a biochemist, organic chemist, and associate director of R&D projects and operations at SBP; Joe Sypek, PhD, director and external science lead, comparative immunology at Shire Pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical company is dedicated to creating specialized medicines for patients with rare diseases.

 

Coflin opened the discussion with a major consideration for this kind of partnership: “From the science side, when you’re handed a project, if you haven’t been involved from the beginning, it’s difficult,” he offered. “Having someone on the alliance side helps a lot.”  Coflin said he has managed some one-off projects, but for the most part, his target institutions are involved with pediatric research where he is responsible for putting agreements together.

 

Sypek’s role at Shire is to identify and foster new academic alliance partnerships. This complex of new partnerships, in turn, feeds the early-discovery stage pipeline in the rare disease space within discovery biology and transitional research.  Shire’s milestone-based agreements are tied to contingent payments for each gene target if specified research, regulatory, clinical development, commercialization, and sales milestone events occur.

 

“We’ve tried other models,” Sypek said. “Each institution has nuances. Each has upfront money and needs money to start up. So, we start with initial payments and set the budget, year to year.”

 

“We do milestones because we need to get meaningful data.  We want data that is robust and statistically significant. If it doesn’t work out, the principle investigator (PI) can take the project and partner with someone else,” Sypek continued. “Treatments are an internal project that require regular lab meetings. Both parties must be committed to getting to goals, but all projects have regular meetings where we try to pour all necessary resources together for success.”

 

When setting up a team, if it doesn’t have a molecule, Shire might outsource and pay for its development, even if it’s outside of the budget.  In 2012, Shire entered a broad, three-year research collaboration in rare diseases with Boston Children’s Hospital, and since then has expanded to other pediatric hospitals. 

 

“Shire’s plan is to cast a broad net to get the best of the best to target the disease. That’s what the intentions are, but what are the challenges?” Sypek asked.

 

“Central to the challenges are the cultural differences between academia and industry. But the goal for both parties is to find a cure to address the disease,” Sypek concluded. “You can work for years in a lab, but it’s the research collaboration that allows a breakthrough [to be] possible. Today, academia seeks out industry partners. The boundary walls are not as high as they use to be. They are more in tune to working with industry. NIH budgets can be tight, and there are always questions about what might happen to funding. That’s where industry might be able to step in and fund research and materials.”

Part II of this blog post focuses on Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute’s perspective on academic-industry partnerships. 

Tags:  academia  alliance  Boston Children’s Hospital  collaboration  Joe Sypek  partner  Paula Norris  pediatric research  research  Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute  Sarah Hudson  Shire Pharmaceuticals 

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Unusual Alliance Management Project in The Netherlands Wins ASAP Alliance Excellence Award for Model that Streamlines Government Services

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, March 2, 2017

There was plenty of celebration and even a few surprises at this year’s annual Alliance Excellence Awards that took place 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. One was the presentation of the Individual Alliance Excellence Award, which recognizes organizations that have instituted practices, tools, and methodologies in support of successful formation and management for a single alliance. The award was given to Loonaangifteketen-UWV-CBS-Belastingdienst for their novel alliance created between three government agencies in The Netherlands: Belastingdienst (Dutch IRA), UWV (Dutch National Social Security Administration), and CBS (Statistics Netherlands). The agencies applied a governance model that emphasized cross-agency collaboration that generates 60 percent of the Dutch government’s revenue in an easy-to-use system for pensions and social security benefits. The alliance lowered costs while increasing convenience to the citizenry with 96 percent accuracy. After the awards ceremony, I spoke with Diantha Croese, key alliance manager at Loonaangifteketen, Menno Aardewyn, business consultant at UWV, and Paul Vincken, alliance manager at Loonaangifteketen, about their experience, roles in the transition, and how they found themselves in a problem that required alliance management skills.

Diantha: The government wanted to lower administrative and implementation costs and improve convenience for citizens, such as making it easier to request information on taxes, benefits, students grants, pensions, and social security.

Menno: Additionally, there were two streams of money. One was for taxes and wages; the other was from social security. They wanted to bring the two streams together so one organization would complete the money stream.

Paul: The politicians requested the change.

Menno: It was forced on us by the government. The main idea was to make it cheaper and less complicated. But then the problems started.  It went completely wrong in the beginning because there was no attention to the alliance. Many people had to leave our organization, and there was no will to collaborate. People in different division didn’t understand each other.

Diantha: It was almost like the different divisions spoke a different language. The systems failed.  No one had the overhead view of where the risks were. Nobody saw the big picture.

Paul: We worked for two years in a big mess, from 2007-08 until 2010.

Diantha: It required problem analysis.

Menno: The analysis was very pure and prudent. The analysis was ordered by the government and made a lot of things clear.

Diantha: The analysis found we needed to do 50 procedures to get it started again.

Diantha: An independent alliance manager then stepped in and told everyone what to do. That helped bring people together, and helped us understand our role, why things weren’t working, and what we could do to get it to work.

Menno: He was an overriding authority.

Paul: He could intervene in the processes of the partner organization. That was his power. He had an extremely powerful start.

Menno: He was one of the solutions to solve the problems after the analysis.  This was normal procedure, but the alliance management tasks started after the first big meeting we had over two days with all of the key players on all the management levels of all the organization. It included the people who had all of the systems knowledge. These 40 people reorganized the thoughts they had. The old classical management instructions that are based on a hierarchical system weren’t working. We started to think completely new again on what we needed to manage with each other, and how we should do it together. So it was collaboration from the beginning.

Diantha: Each organization had someone they reported to, and they were aligned together in relationships they had not been in before.

Menno: We noticed in the analysis there were four dimensions that needed to be addressed to solve the problems: content, procedure (how it should be done), relationship needs, and cultural difference (awareness of the collaborating partners). We evaluated with surveys on how to manage the four dimensions. These diagnostics were really important to mirror what was really happening.

Diantha: We noticed some of the problems we faced couldn’t be solved between us, so we had to find other partners who could help us and create value for each other. We had been so busy with our own process, we finally had time to look around and see what other people were doing.

Paul: So we are evolving into a new ecosystem.

Menno: There are no boundaries anymore working together.

Diantha: They feel like colleagues.

Diantha: We did a lot of trust building. There are no groups anymore.

Paul: We are one.

Menno: It was really worth it also for our personal development. We changed because the organization changed.

Diantha: We have a lot of storytelling now so people can learn from our experiences.

Menno: We wrote a little book about all of our experiences and all the experiences we had with other organizations. The resulting system is transferable to any government. We mention many more alliances than just our own alliance.

Diantha: The model can be used in public or private companies. It’s all about aligning people.

Menno: But not just in knowledge, but the way we behave, the procedures, and how to respect each other.

Diantha: You have to help others to become successful, and that needs to be in the brain of every employee. It’s important that those at the top of the organization who want a collaboration practice what they preach. If that is not in order, then you have a problem. 

Tags:  alliance  alliance manager  Belastingdienst  CBS  collaboration  Diantha Croese  ecosystem  Loonaangifteketen  Management Project  Menno Aardewyn  Netherlands  partner  Paul Vincken  UWV 

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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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