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Helping Partners Succeed—So That You and Your Customers Do, Too

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, June 25, 2020

In an increasingly digital world, how do you create business models that help your company succeed while ensuring that your partners reap the benefits as well?

It’s a question faced by many companies today—not just in technology—and it’s one that is top of mind for Carl DCosta, worldwide vice president and general manager of partner success for Blue Yonder (formerly JDA Software), which provides software and solutions focused on supply chains.

After all, “partner success” is right there in his title.

Building a Partner-Based Model

DCosta’s keynote presentation, “Foundation for Partner Success in the Digital World,” on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the second day of ASAP’s virtual Global Alliance Summit, looked at how Blue Yonder has approached this question, largely by seeking to understand who their partners are, what their capabilities are, how to attract and recruit new partners, and how to make sure that value is created throughout the ecosystem and flows in multiple directions.

A tech-industry veteran with years of experience, first at HP and then at Oracle, DCosta arrived at Blue Yonder in late 2019 and was given a mandate: build out the company’s channel and partner business. This meant “working more with partners and leveraging the ecosystem,” DCosta said, as well as operating from a “more partner-based model.”

In service of this goal, DCosta divided Blue Yonder’s partners into three types: development partners, who extend solutions; selling partners, who give the company more reach; and delivery partners, who deploy and deliver products and augment Blue Yonder’s expertise.

Each of these partner types needed something different to both attract and enable them.

Needs, Leads, and Sandboxes

The development partners—largely independent software vendors, or ISVs—wanted free licenses and access to technology, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreements, and their own “sandboxes” to play in, in the cloud. They benefited from this arrangement by getting high margins with product IP, while Blue Yonder got an end-to-end solution offering.

Selling partners—business or systems integrators (BIs/SIs)—wanted referrals, resell agreements, and co-sell fees and agreements, and thereby they received resale revenue and margin while Blue Yonder got incremental leads, more products, and more users.

Finally, the delivery partners—again, BIs and SIs—wanted enablement and training as accredited technical consultants, as well as branding. Their reward was increased margins for their services business, while Blue Yonder saw their end of the deal as leading to greater customer success.

DCosta noted that unlike in “the old days of reselling,” often companies are more diversified now and may play more than one role—perhaps even all three. Thus it’s important to understand your partners’ capabilities and what they bring to the table—and what you do, too.

Another key point is removing barriers to working together, as much as possible. “We need to be easy to do business with,” DCosta acknowledged. “To be more consumerish, with one click. We want to make it easy technically and commercially to join that journey with us and for us to support [partners]. We’ve got to get better at this.”

Partner Programs Bearing Fruit

So far, DCosta said that the partner programs, processes, and metrics he has worked to implement have been helping in that regard, though he cautioned that it can take a few years for any such effort to truly bear fruit. What’s also important, he said, is to be clear about the nature of the opportunity and to measure the value created thereby—no matter whether the partner is purely transactional, directly pouring revenue into the coffers, or more of an influencer who is bringing in leads.

“What does a win or success mean for each?” he said. “What are you getting out of it, what are we getting out of it? Whatever the win-win is, I encourage you to have a common scorecard.”

Another recommendation DCosta gave was to try to “eliminate channel conflict” and “compensate both the partner and your sales force so they both benefit customers.” He added that sometimes there needs to be more exclusivity in certain geographic regions such as Russia or Latin America, but barring that, he urged compensating and encouraging everyone involved and avoiding what he called the “macho element of human beings: ‘I did the deal and the partner didn’t. I’m better,’ regardless of the compensation. But by and large, if both are mature enough to see the customer as the primary beneficiary that we need to optimize for, then we allow the customer to choose how they procure, and we compensate the partner—especially as the lead—even if the transaction happened through the vendor. Those policies are quite critical to making sure you don’t end up with conflict and you end up with cooperation,” he said.

Not Fade Away: The Future of the Channel

Asked the perennial question about the “death of the channel” and whether the indirect tech sales channel would be wholly replaced by ecosystems, DCosta’s answer was interesting.

“It’s a tough one,” he admitted. “If you mean ecosystems may not resell, and channel by definition equals resell, I do think the dynamics will change. At least in the technology world, ecosystems—or marketplaces if you will—already with a Salesforce or a Microsoft or Oracle seem to be an alternative way to transact from traditional channels or channel players. But everything is a continuum. Some technologies lend themselves to ecosystems better and easier than channels, so I don’t see this as either/or. There certainly is a big shift in the software industry going more toward an ecosystem/marketplace world where the transaction happens more directly.

“But even in that, there’s roles for partners, and especially partners that work across multiple ecosystems—cloud of clouds, as they call it—so there’s plenty of roles for partners and channels to play across multiple ecosystems. It clearly is a trend, but I don’t believe it’s a binary thing where it’ll flip one day and the channels will go away or anything like that. I think there’s a place for both.”

Tags:  Blue Yonder  business or systems integrators (BIs/SIs)  Carl DCosta  channel  cloud  ecosystem  end-to-end solution  OEM  partner programs  Partner-Based Model  partners 

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Making Adjustments: ASAP Global Alliance Summit Now in June!

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Monday, March 9, 2020

We’ve all had the experience of an unexpected event that suddenly threw a wrench into our alliances or our lives. Depending on the nature of the event, its magnitude, and how close to home it hits, we generally do our best to understand how the landscape has changed, adjust to the implications, make accommodations, and move forward. Reality may defy our hopes and expectations, but we pick up the pieces, dust ourselves off, and keep getting up in the morning amid the now-altered environment.

So it is with the coronavirus, or COVID-19, whose effects worldwide have already proven serious. Our hearts go out to all those who have been directly affected by this virus, especially the families of those who have died from it around the globe. In addition, this contagious disease—and the fear of it—has already had a significant economic impact, including declines in business and vacation travel and the cancellation or postponement of a number of conventions, conferences, and trade shows in various industries. Most organizations have been forced to respond in some way, whether to shift events to alternative dates or from physical to virtual, to curtail travel to safeguard their people, or to try to limit the damage to their bottom line. Or all of the above.

We at ASAP have faced these challenges as well, resulting in the difficult decision to reschedule our Global Alliance Summit, which had been scheduled for next week, to June 23–25 in Tampa, Florida. In the great scheme of things this move may barely register, but for a member organization like ours, as you can imagine, it’s a big deal. Shifting the Summit to new dates has required a huge and immediate lift on the part of ASAP staff and board, which is ongoing as I write this.

The good news is, the show will go on! I’m very happy that we were able to secure the original conference venue, the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, for our late-June dates. I’m even more pleased to report that at present, nearly 75 percent of our presenters, panelists, and moderators have confirmed that they’ll be there.

What this means is that we’ll still have a terrific program, as planned—a program that, as always, includes presentations by some of the alliance and partnering profession’s best and brightest minds and leading lights, including these:

  • A keynote presentation by Steve Steinhilber, global vice president, ecosystems and business development, at Equinix: “Creating Alliances and Digital Ecosystem Capabilities in an Increasingly Platform Enabled and Interconnected World.” Steve ran alliances at Cisco for a number of years, and while there authored the influential book Strategic Alliances: Three Ways to Make Them Work (2008). He was also among those interviewed for our Q1 2020 cover story in Strategic Alliance Quarterly on the rise and far-reaching effects of ecosystems in nearly every industry, and his insights into this important and growing area are sure to be valuable and applicable to any industry.
  • A fascinating panel moderated by Adam Kornetsky of Vantage Partners titled “Big Pharma M&A and Alliance Portfolios: What’s at the End of the Rainbow?” This interactive discussion will feature panelists including Mark Coflin, CSAP, vice president and head of global alliances at Takeda Pharmaceuticals; Dana Hughes, vice president of integration management and alliance management at Pfizer; and Jeffrey C. Hurley, senior director, GBD global alliance lead at Takeda. These longtime ASAP members will share their recent M&A experiences, provide insights into how alliance portfolios have been managed through the transaction process, and engage participants in sharing additional perspectives critical for unlocking and maximizing the full value of an alliance portfolio.
  • A presentation by Dan Rippey, director of engineering for Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner program, and Amit Sinha, chief customer officer and cofounder of WorkSpan, called “How the Microsoft Partner-to-Partner Program Is Disrupting the Way Technology Companies Are Leveraging the Power of Ecosystems for Business Growth, Customer Acquisition, and Gaining a Competitive Advantage.” With the rise of ecosystems has come the increasing deployment of partner-to-partner (P2P) programs, and Microsoft’s may be the largest on the planet, connecting partners directly with each other to deliver value to customers without Microsoft’s intervention. Powered by WorkSpan Ecosystem Cloud, this program increases profitability by selling solutions from one or more of Microsoft’s partners, achieving faster time-to-market by leveraging prebuilt joint solutions, closing larger deals, and reaching more customers by co-selling with other Microsoft partners for a bigger joint pipeline. This new model of partnering has wide applicability and Dan and Amit’s description of how it works is a must-hear.
  • Another terrific panel moderated by Jan Twombly, president of The Rhythm of Business, called “Biopharma Commercial Alliance Management Challenges.” Panelists will include Brooke Paige, CSAP, ASAP board chair and former vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics; and David S. Thompson, CSAP, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company. In the long life of a successful biopharma alliance, the commercialization phase brings its own particular challenges and problems. This panel promises to be a lively discussion of such topics as how alliance managers deliver value in a commercial alliance, considerations for driving alignment in local geographies and at a corporate level, aspects of alliance governance to get right to maximize value, and much more.

I’m not indulging in hyperbole when I say that these are just a very few of the highlights. Again,  more than three-quarters of the original Summit agenda is planned  to remain intact—including preconference workshops, single-speaker presentations, illuminating panel discussions, and of course, valuable networking opportunities.

We know there are many factors governing decisions on where to travel and why—especially under current conditions. But we’re confident that even after shifting to the June dates, we’ll be fielding a stellar lineup at the Summit in Tampa—one you’ll want to be present for. If you haven’t registered yet and/or for whatever reason were uncertain about attending in March, you now have some extra time to decide.

Additionally, the Renaissance has set up a new block of rooms at our discounted rate of $219.00+ per night. To book your room for the new conference dates, please click on the link below:

https://www.marriott.com/event-reservations/reservation-link.mi?id=1583953400577&key=GRP&app=resvlink

Let’s all try to plan for normal again! Won’t you join us? I hope to see you in Tampa!

Tags:  alliances  Amit Sinha  biopharma  Brooke Paige  Dan Rippey  Dana Hughes  David Thompson  Ecosystems  Eli Lilly and Company  Equinix  Jan Twombly  Jeffrey Hurley  Mark Coflin  Microsoft  P2P  partners  Pfizer  Steve Steinhilber  Takeda  The Rhythm of Business  Vantage Partners  WorkSpan 

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Supreme Allies: ASAP Unveils 2020 Alliance Excellence Award Finalists

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It is that time of year again. ASAP has revealed its list of Alliance Excellence Award finalists for 2020. Like previous winners before them, this year’s nominees created innovative products, threw lifelines to citizens in need all around the world, increased company profits, got us closer to game-changing cancer drugs, and improved the internal function of individual alliances and alliance management practices.

“Each year, we find the companies that use the most fundamental tenets of alliance management to get powerful results from their collaborations, all the while tailoring these principles as necessary to fit an ever-changing business landscape,” said Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who oversaw the evaluation and selection of submissions. “This year’s nominees are no different. Everyone in the alliance management community will learn a great deal from how these organizations achieved such amazing outcomes in 2019.”

Contenders will be vying for awards in the following four categories: 1) Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility, 2) Alliance Program Excellence, 3) Individual Alliance Excellence, and 4) Innovative Best Alliance Practice. (ASAP’s web site breaks down the criteria for each of these areas.)

Here is an overview of our finalists’ stories:

Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Banistmo – The largest bank in Panama teamed with Reciclar Paga, an organization that collects and recycles materials, to open “ecological ATMs” all over the country where citizens automatically receive credit in their Nequi Panamá accounts when they deposit plastic bottles, cans, and other recyclables. (Nequi Panamá is Banistmo's digital financial platform.)  
  • Ericsson – This telecommunications giant provided the foundation for the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), which established and maintained voice and data connectivity in the aftermath of natural disasters. Hundreds of employee volunteers have been trained and deployed all over the world, supporting over 40 humanitarian relief efforts in 30 countries.
  • International SOS – The global medical and security services company partnered with wellness company Workplace Options to deliver comprehensive physical, mental, and emotional well-being services to expatriates, traveling students, and businesspeople worldwide. This partnership shows how the combination of industry-leading expertise from different organizations can support people in need.
  • Protiviti – Protiviti teamed with nonprofit organizations Feeding Children Everywhere and Rise Against Hunger to deliver millions of meals to hungry families around the world.  An open, flexible partnering model has enabled Protiviti to work with numerous partners across multiple locations worldwide.
  • SAS Institute – SAS’s ecosystem hosted the annual Nordic Hackathon, which aims to use “data for good.” Hackathon participants have created solutions that help doctors detect and treat heart failure, consumers make climate-friendly food choices, and war refugees find their families, among other use cases. The Hackathon is an integral part of SAS’s partnering program.

Alliance Program Excellence

  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) – A global nonprofit institution established its inaugural alliance management function to provide strategic oversight and best-in-class practices to its large-scale strategic drug discovery collaborations and cofunded platform technology relationships. The alliance program is unique in the way it connects CRUK’s extensive network of academic researchers to biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
  • Blue Yonder – In response to increasing customer demand for cloud solutions, Blue Yonder revamped its Partner Advantage Program to include a prescriptive learning–based Partner Academy, two new partner-ready cloud environments, a Solutions Marketplace, and a Partner Locator, a searchable lead-generation engine for end users, among other features.
  • Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany ­– The pharma stalwart implemented a state-of-the-art performance management program for alliances including innovative metrics for decision making and benchmarking with competitors.  KPIs are tracked on a quarterly basis. Analysis of these KPIs quarter to quarter enables continuous improvement of the alliance management function.

Individual Alliance Excellence

  • Banistmo and Sodexo – The companies combined the former’s Nequi Panamá digital banking platform with Sodexo’s Vale Panamá voucher system to create e-vale, a tool that enabled business and public agencies to provide bonuses and incentives to employees. The alliance also succeeded in building an ecosystem around this product.
  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Celgene – CRUK and Celgene formed an alliance centered on research into multiple cancer-associated proteins across diverse cancer types. The alliance was structured according to ASAP best practices and implemented a mechanism for CRUK to independently engage with its academic network and make flexible spending decisions.
  • Genpact and Deloitte Genpact’s collaboration with Deloitte featured a comprehensive mix of traditional alliance best practices and modern innovative tools, such as “social capital” and “Evangelists,” people with experiences at both firms whose primary role is to help drive the connection between the respective teams. 
  • Ipsen and Debiopharm – With their contract coming to an end in 2018, Ipsen and Debiopharm rebooted and revamped their 35-year-old alliance. The partners have shown an exemplary ability to reinvent their alliance. The reset resulted in a new partnership model and a new contract for the next 15 years of partnership.

 Innovative Best Alliance Practice

  • Alcon – The company’s Trinity partner relationship management system helped streamline the reporting, governance, analytics, and communication related to alliances that impact the organization’s business development and licensing (BD&L) group. The system enhanced compliance with alliance agreements and improved alliance management.
  • Citrix (Coopetition Guidance) – With its strategic allies acquiring competitors, Citrix created guidelines for transitioning away from partners-turned-rivals. The tool is publicly available and provides a step-by-step blueprint to develop a response strategy when a partner becomes a competitor.
  • Citrix (RFSA) – The virtualization giant’s Request for Strategic Alliances Engagement (RFSA) program aligned the engineering, product management, marketing, and alliance management functions so that the company could evaluate and respond to proposed initiatives from partners significantly faster.
  • PTC – The company cobranded a series of Digital Centers of Excellence (CoE) where partners can demo Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions to customers and prospects. This program had a significant effect on top-line growth.

“Every profession distinguishes its top performers, and ASAP is proud to do the honors for the crème de la crème in alliance management,” said Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP. “With more and more organizations submitting for these honors, there is mounting evidence that organizations of all kinds see the Alliance Excellence Awards as a means to validating their standing as innovators.”

The winners will be announced on Tues., March 17 at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Tampa, Fla.  

Tags:  alliance  alliance management  Banistmo  Blue Yonder  Cancer Research UK  Celgen  Darmstadt  Debiopharm  Deloitte  ecosystem  Ericsson  Genpact  Germany  International SOS  Ipsen  Merck KGaA  Nequi Panamá  partnering model  partnering program  partners  partnership  Protiviti  SAS Institute  Sodexo 

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Sales Is Hard; Selling Together Is Harder: Operating in a Collaborative Selling Environment

Posted By Mike Leonetti, CSAP, Thursday, December 19, 2019

Recently I’ve had some interesting conversations with members, both in technology sales and in biopharma, that caused me to reflect on my own years of experience in pharma commercial alliances and also what I know from our members about go-to-market alliances on the tech side. I spent many years managing sales teams and commercial partnerships and thinking and working through the challenges involved. So I always listen with great interest when folks tell me about the issues they see coming up in their go-to-market collaborative selling efforts.

In addition, here at ASAP we’re currently doing a survey with IDC that among other things touches on joint incentive compensation (IC), so all of that got me to thinking about collaborative selling practices that may be similar between industries. No matter which vertical we’re in, we all tend to face similar challenges when it comes to joint selling. The biggest ones seem to boil down to these:

The “Kumbaya” factor. You’ve probably heard—or even said—some version of “Do nice to me and I’ll do nice to you,” or “You deal with your customers and I’ll deal with mine.” OK, that’s fine—I’m as big a believer in the Golden Rule and pulling together a team as the next person—but the truth is the effort must be focused around how we actually create additional value through our joint selling efforts. What new customers can we reach, how many additional high-value presentations can we make, and how can we together create a need for our product?

The what, the how, and the why. Does everyone on alliance selling teams understand the benefits, value, process, and procedures for creating value with this product or service? Have we spent enough time defining our mission, goals, and objectives? Does everyone understand regulatory limitations, order processing, and who are the key support personnel in the home office? Do we have a well thought out onboarding plan, or are salespeople simply being handed a product or solution with some heavy reading material and told to go sell it?

Time, coordination, and leadership. Partnership sales always requires more time. It takes coordination, proper routing, and customer service, and all of that requires collaboration—not typically a strong suit of most salespeople. For an executive who’s responsible for partnership sales, recognizing that collaboration may represent a developmental need for many salespeople and dedicating the time to focus and nurture that competency is a leadership requirement—but it can easily take a backseat in a competitive selling environment. Are we providing the time and guidance needed to include this coordination and development?

Rewarding collaborative behaviors. Do you model and reward collaborative behaviors? Rewards for sales folks are typically monetary-driven. Have you defined other rewards for repeating and achieving results from collaborative behavior that rival “sales rep of the month”? Although gift certificates and recognition will never carry the weight of a well-developed IC plan, it’s important to reward these behaviors and provide public recognition. And while incenting the final sale is critical, it’s also a great idea to recognize the behaviors that lead to sales results.

Credit where credit is due. Speaking of incentive compensation, have you defined proper ways for all selling partners to receive credit? Are their goals aligned? Is their payout equivalent for equivalent results? Who gets the credit? Or do you assume that both partners do? While there are many ways to create fair and partnership-oriented IC plans, many plans lack the proper planning for partnership sales incentives.

Socialization. Are you or have you completed your partner socialization efforts? It’s the small stuff that counts: sales rep roster exchange, team partner mapping, inclusion of partners in selling meetings, and ultimately, management’s recognition of not just its own sales reps, but the partner’s.

Company culture. Have you aligned your cultures? Do you understand the key differences between your two companies? Company A, for example, may require its sales reps to make eight calls a day, no excuses. Company B, on the other hand, requires just two high-quality calls per day—they’re more concerned about quality than quantity. So when A and B sell together, what’s the expectation for the partnership?

Account management. Have you aligned accounts, targets, lead generation, and prospects for the multiple parties selling to these accounts? Do your support teams understand the impacts or requirements when assigning targets, and how are joint sales targets prioritized and accounted for? What about entertainment? How are the dollars shared? Whose company’s policies and practices prevail?

These are just a few of the collaborative sales challenges that I’ve been discussing with others lately. I think they’re probably common to most go-to-market alliance efforts, as well as to copromotion in biopharma, or any joint selling process that occurs when two or more companies come together with collaborative selling practices.

What do you think? What are some of the challenges you see? Let’s start a dialogue. Type in a comment below.

Tags:  Account management  alliances collaborative selling  collaborative  collaborative behaviors  commercial partnerships  company culture  competitive selling  leadership  partners  partnership-oriented  socialization 

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Alignment, Agility, and ‘Leadership IQ’ | Alliance leaders always have driven alignment. But what do we do differently, as disruption accelerates?

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, November 27, 2019

As an alliance leader, I used to spend 70 percent of my time not working with partners, but working on aligning internally. The concept of creating value through partnering was brand new for our leaders. We’d never walk into a meeting without a pre-meeting. Building alignment stole time away from creating new value with partners—yet it was critically important to delivering the value intended when the alliance was created.

Much has changed in alliance management—but driving alignment remains a central task of alliance leaders.

Indeed, research indicates the highest performing alliance leaders are “ambassadors” who bridge boundaries both internally as well as externally. They focus “on dialoguing with superiors and other stakeholders, proactively putting themselves on the agenda of their leaders, and managing behaviors,” according to Dave Luvison, CSAP, PhD, professor at Loyola University Maryland.

That makes sense—but what about time for externally facing alliance management?

Applying agile principles to partnering reflects a broad understanding in our profession that alliance management cannot afford to accrete more bureaucracy and process. Instead, how can we simplify the activities and processes of driving alignment so that partnering can become more agile? That seems essential to proceed effectively in the ecosystem—where it’s just not possible for there to be 100 percent alignment.

Complex models once helped us describe, in comprehensive detail, the complicated work and rich value created in the alliance management function. Alliance leaders have always looked for simplified means to explain the complexity of partner value creation. Back in the day, we used our STAR model to define Situations, Tasks, Actions, and Results—simplifying our alignment discussions as much as possible.

Today, partnering leaders look to jettison complexity wherever they can, seeking shortcuts in the traditional alliance lifecycle and technologies to further streamline alliance activities. It is the embodiment of Albert Einstein’s famous admonishment: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” At its roots, then, agility is about changing how we think.

“Growth is a thinking game,” said Salesforce evangelist Tiffani Bova, author of Growth IQ. I would add that alliance management is a thinker’s profession. As our profession both expands and evolves in direct response to pervasive disruption, our most critical and differentiating skill remains our “leadership IQ.” It defines how we understand the transformation of business and its implications for partnering practice.

“In the advancing era of artificial intelligence, companies need to create all the pieces—and alliances—necessary to make it easy to adapt for the advancement of products,” said Bruce Anderson, IBM’s general manager, high tech/electronics industry. “You need to ask how your company should be thinking about alliances in this accelerating business approach,” he emphasized. “Alliances have become fundamental to the idea of strategy.”

Anderson’s and Bova’s points reinforced each other in a powerful way, I thought. How we think, the choices (and sequence of choices) we make, and how quickly and efficiently we can make decisions all matter. Alliance managers must improve their “leadership IQ” to better understand the big picture of disruption, how it will create value or threaten loss of market share—and how, “in this accelerating business approach,” they will drive alignment accordingly.

Tags:  accelerating  agile  aligning creating value  alliance leader  alliance management  alliances  artificial intelligence  Bruce Anderson  Dave Luvison  drive alignment  Growth IQ  IBM  leadership IQ  Loyola University Maryland  partnering alliance  partners  strategy  Tiffani Bova 

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