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Part IV: Stuart and Shawn Compare Notes on How to Build Bridges among Partners though Best Tools and Practices

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016

This is our continued coverage of a lively discussion that took place at an ASAP session presenting two valuable alliance management studies on “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The session unveiled the landmark ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group (see Part I of this blog post). The session also included an insightful presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges” (see Part II of this blog post). The presenters then engaged in a conversation about how the two studies dovetail in economic and financial metrics and the ways they can be used to improve company performance (see Part III of this blog post).  

Shawn: It goes back to the ability to build bridges. There are some families in a neighborhood that exert more effort to make community ties. The same thing is true with tools and practicessome are more helpful in building bridges between companies. We need to look at how we are assessing companies and whether we are missing a large mass of information underneath. The full picture needs to be looked at so the bridge you are building can match up to the distance. There was a small business worth billion of dollars, struggling to hit two-to-three percent growth. We looked at social capital, and a little sliver came out that seems trivial, but we employed it into a solution. That little sliver went live two months ago and resulted in 80 percent growth. Social capital might seem small, but it is clearly a force driving firms away or pulling them together.

Stuart:  You need to put in mechanisms to bridge the difference.

Shawn: Sometimes the gap is too big. You need to ask: “Do we actually have the capability?” Building a plane while in the air is not the best strategy.

Stuart: Sometimes we get called in to intervene in an alliance. Someone will call and say we have lost trust. What does that mean? We don’t trust that we are well aligned, have the ability to manage that misalignment, and be able to manage that difference in a significant way. They think of trust as individual relationships.

Shawn: Social capital is not so much the existence of specific ties. It’s more the environment created for them to exist that’s definitely a spider web. There is too much emphasis put on goodwill and trust. Social capital is not these feelings or soft things or upper-level management having strong personal deals. It’s about two firms having multiple connections. It’s about the structural dimensions and the ability to interact. Last in line in social capital are the trust, respect, and goodwill. 

Tags:  alliance management research studies  Alliance Maturity  Dr. Shawn Wilson  Economic Metrics  Social Capital  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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Part III: Stuart and Shawn’s Economic and Financial Metrics—A Dialogue About Social Capital and Alliance Maturity

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, October 24, 2016
Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016

ASAP presented first-of-their-kind findings from two alliance management research studies during the packed session  “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The session unveiled the landmark ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group (see Part I of this story posted on September 14).

The session also included an insightful presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges” (see Part II of this blog post). The presenters then engaged in a conversation about how the two studies dovetail in economic and financial metrics and the ways they can be used to improve company performance. Following is part of their exchange:

Stuart: I think the two studies are very well connected and say very similar things in different ways. One thing that is interesting is that internal operating models haven’t evolved at the same pace as alliancing activity. In the gaps in the internal operating models, we need to rely on social capital. If you start to think of social capital and operating models, organizations need to grapple with how to enable the building of social capital. It’s not easy to do if organizations put people in dilemmas to make social capital decline. The concern I have about the ASAP study is that the language of social capital sounds too individual skill-based, not “How do we build up organizational capability?” We need to make sure executives don’t misunderstand that language.

Shawn: Social capital is an extremely underused term that is much more than individual ties. It’s been used for relationship building, but it’s really precise with dimensions that are unique and powerful when employed…. You need to take all those things into account to appropriately assess the distance between two firms: Is the social capital strong enough to put them together? How do firms assess maturity?

Stuart: Alliance management maturity is a useful concept, and how social capital fits into the model or how to evolve it. Do we assume the commercialization process is taking place only internally, or through partner relationships? There are various attributes of maturity, and when you measure maturity, you want to define your terms. Assuming you have a complex portfolio of somewhat interdependent relationships, what is your maturity level to manage that kind of social capital? Below the surface activities are really interesting to understand, and how they keep us from delivering specific goals.

Shawn: Alliances are outpacing the ability to properly apply physical techniques and analyze, and it’s important to understand the true distance between two companies. How do firms build social capital? That’s a fantastic question. Consider this analogy: My wife and I located back to the West Coast and moved to a neighborhood with an eclectic group—PhDs, opera signers, government workers. If you’d asked me whom the people were that I’d connect with, it wouldn’t have been these folks. But it turns out the structural dimension of the neighborhood was key—who was out in the front yard every night and what is family to me were much stronger predictors of connections.

Stay tuned for additional coverage of the session “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” which will continue the lively discussion in Part IV between the presenters on how the two studies connect. You can read more on Vantage’s studies by visiting https://www.vantagepartners.com/Articles.aspx

Tags:  Alliance Management  alliance management research studies  Alliance Maturity  alliances  Dr. Shawn Wilson  Economic Metrics  operating models  Social Capital  structural dimension  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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Two Studies Provide Valuable Economic and Financial Metrics To Support Partnering and Revenues

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ASAP unveiled a landmark alliance management study to a packed room at the Revere Hotel in Boston, a block from the Boston Common, during the recent 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place Sept. 7-9. The session “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” introduced the ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group. The report provides economic and financial metrics based on extensive research and data analysis. "What is so important about this report is that it's the first time alliance management studies have gathered defined economic or financial outcomes as well as provided recommendations for improvement,” pointed out Michael Leonetti, CSAP, CEO of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, during the session introduction. The session also included a presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges.” Part I of this blog focuses on Wilson’s key findings. 

If you attended the ASAP BioPharma Conference last week or in years past, chances are you’re working for a successful company that has great balance and capability sheets, as well as skilled managers supporting company alliances. If you’re only concerned about the visible firm profile, however, you may miss the iceberg below the surface—the more massive structural configurations, norms, meanings, and work systems. Those subsurface dynamics can be swirling with conflict, which is why Dr. Shawn Wilson of Beaulieu Group, one of the world’s largest floorcovering manufacturers, did a deep dive about a year ago with a three-stage study that included qualitative interviews, a pilot study, and quantitative study of social capital. The consultant, published author, and researcher affiliated with Georgia’s Kennesaw State University worked with ASAP to provide new financial and economic ROI analytics that reflect partnering best practices. The study is based on the finding of three distinct dimensions of social capital: structural, cognitive, and relational. 

Social capital is the aggregate informal resources available to an individual, group, or institution that is generated by positive interactions. It effectively facilitates interactions, acting as a catalyst for inter- and intra-organizational transactions. Wilson used the concept of social capital as a tool to explore the tougher dynamics between organizations—and the potential to alleviate organizational problems in transactions and other interactions. 

“Social capital can be a force that pulls firms together or pushes them away. The more those dimensions of social capital push firms away, the longer the bridge needs to become in an alliance,” observed Wilson. “One of the biggest challenges firms have is that they overestimate what spans the bridge.” He then begged the question: “Were we successful because of the unknown factors under the iceberg?” 

The audience was then asked to consider a strong relationship between two people. “That strong relational tie doesn’t mean there will be strong ties when the entire family gets together,” he pointed out.  Now consider the failed alliance between Tesla and Toyota, which started as a friendship between the two CEOs, he continued.  “The mismatch between the two firms was too much for the alliance to bear.” 

The second finding from the study is that “the right kind of experience counts,” he said. The data don’t show that social capital improves when relationships strengthen; when it comes to an alliance executive’s experience, it’s not about the tools brought in. It’s about how to measure up to a firm’s potential partnership through nuance, he added. 

The third finding? Companies with above-average social capital outperformed their peers. The financial measures were much higher when perceptual measures were met, such as satisfaction, the accomplishment of strategic objectives, and stability. 

Watch for Part II of our coverage on “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” Stuart Kliman’s presentation of Vantage Partner’s study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges.” You can read more about ASAP’s 6th State of Alliances in the Summer 2016 Strategic Alliance Magazine.

Tags:  6th State of Alliance  alliance  alliance management  Beaulieu Group  Dr. Shawn Wilson  economic and financial metrics  economic ROI analytics  Michael Leonetti  partnering best practices  partnerships  perceptual measures  social capital  Stuart Kliman  Tesla  tools  Toyota  Vantage Partners 

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