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How To Align Your Company for the Best Performance and Mileage

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, December 3, 2015

We’ve all experienced misalignment at one time or another. Our car hits a pothole.  Suddenly, it’s pulling like a magnet to the median strip. What was once an easy “cruise control” ride has become repeated efforts of tugging the wheel to stay on track. Not to mention the cost associated with the less-efficient ride. 

In business, “we all experience that kind of organizational drag—not being in alignment with what you are trying to do in the field,” says LaVon Koerner, president and chief revenue officer at Revenue Storm. Koerner will be presenting a session on the topic, “Diagnose Internal Misalignment and Fine-Tune Your Partnership’s Value Creation Engine,” at the March 1–4, 2016, ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, USA. 

“I do a lot of keynote speeches, and this is one of the popular topics I speak on around the world,” said the co-founder of the international sales training and consulting firm. “You have to align each alliance management partnereach has to be aligned with their own company before they can be aligned with another company. It’s like a marriage. If you don’t have your act together, and marry someone without their act together, you have a tragedy.”

The session will focus on how to diagnose alignment or engine problems so participants can identify where they are off-kilter, consider the causes and cures, and determine the best tools for fixing the problems. “We will show them how much organizational drag they have, and we will give them a number,” he said. “The role of a leader today is to create a fine-tuned acceleration engine. I will be walking them through that engine. We want the power of the company internally to be aligned behind the power of the sales force externally.”

How often do we see organizations training people to do one thing and paying them to do something else? he asked rhetorically. “A lot,” he replied, while pulling another analogy from his hat.

“You have songwriters and singers, scriptwriters and actors: The scriptwriters don’t do their own acting, and the best singers in the world don’t write their own songs. The reason a lot of customers are not dancing is because the singers and actors don’t have the music,” he added. “The people in the field are not the scriptwriters and songwriters, they are the singers and actors. They need to be supported, and that is called alignment.”

The secret to a smooth running company vehicle? Align to a common strategy, he divulged. “Once you are aligned to a specific strategy, you are aligned to each other. “

Here’s a tip from Koerner’s “Blue Book” of value. There are four strategies you can align to:

  • Transactional approach to market
  • Process approach to market
  • Business-oriented company
  • Partnering relationship to customers

Pick one of the four from which to operate, he advised. But that’s a huge topic for another day, one he promised to probe at length in his Summit session. 

To learn more about Koerner’s session and others on a diversity of topics critical to partnering and alliance practice—and to register for the March 1-4, 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit before Early Bird Rates end—Click here  

Tags:  2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit  align  alliances  business-oriented  LaVon Koerner  misalignment  partnering relationship  partners  process approach  Revenue Storm  strategy  Transactional approach 

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What’s an Alliance Manger To Do When a Blockbuster Biopharmaceutical Product Is Built on a Shaky Alliance Foundation?

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, September 25, 2015

What do you do when you have a blockbuster product, but a few key alliance building blocks are missing and the cornerstones are misaligned? “Blockbuster Product, Fragile Alliance: Leading the Drive for Change” answered this critical question in a dynamic presentation given by Christine Carberry, CSAP, senior vice president of quality, technical operations, program and alliance management at FORUM Pharmaceuticals and chairman of the ASAP Board of Directors, and Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, Inc., and a member of the ASAP executive and management committee, at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference. Twombly agreed to delve more deeply into the topic with a few key questions during an interview after the conference.

 

What are the signs of a fragile alliance?

Your alliance is achieving revenue targets and its clinical milestones. But any bump in the road such as a regulatory hiccup, can cause significant problems. The attorneys are always involved, its tit-for-tat, and people describe being ambushed in governance committee meetings. So you have a fragile situation because you have a relationship between the partners where they don’t trust each other and don’t feel they are working in the best interest of the alliance. Whenever you don’t have that solid underpinning, you might have external success but not the foundation to deal with the inevitable problems.

 

Why should an executive care as long as your blockbuster alliance is achieving its objectives?

The question from most people in the room is, “My executive realizes we have a fragile situation, but how willing are your governance committees to deal with the hard work of establishing or re-establishing that foundation when you are making your numbers?” The implications of not moving the alliance forward because you don’t have the underlying foundation can be significant. I have seen situations where there were delays upwards of a year with things that really didn’t make sense, disagreements where it would always come back to haunt you. A blockbuster product generates over one billion a year, so there is big money at stake, and if left unaddressed, you are likely to be leaving value on the table. Biopharma products have a reasonably definite lifecycle, and every day you don’t move forward, you are losing a day of market exclusivity because your patent has a finite life, and once your patent expires, generic drugs can come into the marketplace. You also might be creating an opening allowing competitors to get ahead, costing market share. You need to convince the people who should be enrolled in improving the collaboration that there is a significant risk being posed to the alliance when you don’t have that foundation to tackle problems in a collaborative way. You need to get at the root cause—because it is really important for the alliance manager to enroll senior level management and the governance committee to address them. If you don’t address them when things are going well, you won’t be prepared when something negative happens. It’s important to have strategies for raising awareness. That is really the key.

 

What strategies can an alliance professional use to improve the situation?

An absolute prerequisite is that leaders from each partner agree that change is necessary and urgent—and that it starts with them.  You then need a champion to use the core alliance skills of influence, getting people on board, bridging differences, convening the right people, facilitating the right kinds of conversations, and leading people to the conclusion that the status quo is not acceptable. Then you have to move quickly. It can be as simple as rechartering your governance committees, getting them to think about how they act and behave, and asking how it makes them feel—that’s all of the soft stuff you know you  need to do, but people resist.

Carberry and Twombly’s presentation also recommended the following practical steps: 

  • Re-examine governance—Structure, membership, performance standards; rethink the decision making process
  • Re-examine work allocation—project team structure, responsibilities, membership; is collaboration being forced where it isn’t necessary?
  • Establish new behavioral standards—recharter revamped teams/committees and hold them to it
  • Have an aligned and current vision and strategic plan (the “North Star”) and use it to build a “one-team mentality”
  • Meet more frequently and have more face-to-face meetings—eliminate updates and focus on, discuss, debate and decide formats
  • Launch a branded “Campaign for Exponential Success”—leadership, communication, awareness and understanding, accountability at all levels

Tags:  alliance manager  biopharma  Blockbuster product  Christine Carberry  collaborative  FORUM Pharmaceuticals  governance  Jan Twombly  market share  marketplace  partners  performance standards  recharter  The Rhythm of Business 

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Overcoming the Curve of Conviction: How to Increase Value by Getting from Negotiation to Collaboration

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Friday, September 11, 2015

“To Collaborate or Not To Collaborate?” That is the question Mike Berglund, CA-AM, alliance director at Eli Lilly and Company, asked the audience at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference held Sept. 9-11 at the Revere Hotel off the Boston Common.  “Are We Negotiating or Collaborating? Increasing Alliance Value through Collaborative Decision Making” was the topic on stage as Berglund prompted the audience to consider three case scenarios that presented alliance management challenges when working with partners.

 

Decision-making roles are complex, especially in alliances, and become even more complicated when the decision is intricate or embedded, Burglund emphasized. “You as individual have certain attitudes, beliefs, and values that effect how you make decisions. It is a lot easier for me to ask if you will go out and buy a loaf of bread vs. change a specific brand of car or attend a different college. You willingness to change the buying pattern will be different.”

 

How to get to collaboration in a world of culturally entrenched views, tastes, and opinions is one of the challenges alliance managers face in the decision-making process, he indicated. Its about the Conviction Curvea framework of personal buying perspective: “In the alliance world, where you are in this curve will dictate how likely you are to change. If you are going into a governance meeting, the further to the right [on the Conviction Curve] you are, the more difficult it will be to change that position and the more resources and energy it will take.”

 

It’s like a sculptor molding a lump of clay, he added. At first, he or she has the ability to mold it into whatever structure desired, but over time, the clay hardens and becomes more difficult to change. “Working across two companies, with their positions embedded in their respective organizationsit’s hard to change. And you will see that exemplified in alliance management,” he warned.

 

A critical point for alliance managers to consider is the importance of understanding your potential partner and responding appropriately to their behaviors to get to that point of collaboration. Negotiation is all about winning, while collaboration is preferable because its jointly created value that can determine the tone of the relationship, he reminded the audience. Build the alliance from within the alliance and push it outward, he advised. “When you deploy this kind of culture and process, its being organically driven within our organizations.”

 

After challenging participants to consider three very different case scenarios, he asked in one case: “What were the factors that led this alliance to result in a joint decision?” He then drove home the value of using “company pre-meetings to understand your own convictions and then using that information to design the meeting. Choose the right people for the job, make sure that whatever is going into governance meetings has been jointly agreed upon by the parties, and eliminate the opportunity for walk-ins. You really want to limit that discussion, and push it out of governance meeting,” he advised. “Even more important, sit down and talk about company differences. You don’t have to agree, but you need to agree on how you present your different sides,” he added.

 

Then evangelize these norms with the working teams. If you have this kind of behavior in teams, collaboration will be the norm, he concluded.

 

Learn more on this topic in the recently published Q3 2015 Strategic Alliance Magazine editorial supplement article “Choose Wisely: Increase Alliance Value through Collaborative Decision-Making,” sponsored by Eli Lilly and Co. and co-authored by Berglund and Lilly’s Chief Alliance Officer David Thompson, CA-AM.

Tags:  alliance management  alliance manager  alliances  collaboration  conviction curve  Eli Lilly and Company  governance  Mike Berglund  negotiation  partners  pre-meetings 

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