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The ‘Boundary Bridger’: How Leadership Style Drives Alliance Team Performance

Posted By John W. DeWitt , Tuesday, March 12, 2019

“The alignment challenge is not unique to strategic alliances,” commented veteran alliance manager Timothy B. Steele, president of ARM Partners in Leesburg, Virginia, as he kicked off the closed-door, invitation-only ASAP Leadership Forum on Monday, March 11—opening day of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Indeed, leadership teams typically are aligned only 17 percent on any given topic, according to research by SchellingPoint that builds upon the work of Thomas Schelling, the late behavioral economist who (with Robert J. Aumann) received the 2005 Nobel Prize in economic sciences “for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.”

SchellingPoint’s “analysis of 230 collaborations uncovered that teams are aligned on only 17 percent of their peer’s views of their collaboration,” according to Michael Taylor, SchellingPoint’s chief executive. Research further indicates that about 60 percent of senior leaders’ time is spent securing alignment across the leadership team.

Steele and his co-facilitator, Loyola University Maryland professor Dave Luvison, CSAP, PhD, described this aspect of leadership as “a boundary-bridging role.” Alternating between presentation and robust discussion with the group of veteran alliance leaders, Steele and Luvison presented leadership models and emerging research identifying the critical role of boundary bridging and other key leadership behaviors.

“When we look at the job of alliance leadership, we talk a lot about focus on the customer, Steele said, “but if you don’t have this boundary-bridging role,” instead of being a chief alliance officer (CAO) with a seat at the CXO table, you might end up on the menu. Your alliance skills might make you able to cope with ambiguity, but “don’t be ambiguous about having clear mission and mandate, because [building alignment] is one area of alliances where you don’t want to deal with ambiguity. Get it crisp and clear—the less ambiguity you have the better off you are.”

Research into leadership styles of product management teams—according to Luvison, an excellent analog for alliance management—supports the notion that you should “push alliance metrics to the CXO suite [so that it is] leveraged across the business,” Steele continued, adding that that boundary bridgers integrate the alliance agenda into annual corporate planning and involve business P&L owners into key partnering dynamics and decisions.

The science indicates that boundary bridger CAOs establish a “North Star” to guide their teams, a concept advanced by The Rhythm of Business and McKinsey, Steele noted. Furthermore, boundary bridgers demonstrate high emotional intelligence and are able to “feel the headwinds and tailwinds happening in your business,” Steele said. “Think about being up on the balcony, watching yourself dance, anticipating what your partner’s next move is.”

Fundamentally, Luvison said, boundary bridgers understand that just doing a good job does not alone drive success. Research exploring how particular leadership styles improve performance of teams has identified three types of leaders. The first type of leadership style describes leaders primarily engaged in task-focused behavior, “managing and driving the team to perform, making sure every executional aspect of the alliance is done properly. The second type are scouts, who see themselves as responsible for bringing resources to the team. The third type are ambassadors focused on dialoguing with superiors and other stakeholders, proactively putting themselves on the agenda of their leaders, and managing behaviors.”

According to preliminary research findings, Luvison said, “ambassador-led teams outperformed [the two others], especially when combined with task behaviors.” Interestingly, he continued, “Frequency of communications was less important than the nature of the boundary-bridging activities. Ambassadors created the opportunity to promote the team, secure resources, and protect it from interference.”

In other words, successful boundary bridgers also demonstrated traits of the other two types of leaders.

The facilitators then asked the two-dozen or so senior alliance execs in the room how they would describe their leadership style and how much time they spend on boundary bridging. General consensus in the room: 50 percent, if not more, of their time is spent on internal alignment across boundaries.

“It’s a full-time challenge to do this. It’s not just something you can do and be done,” commented one pharmaceutical alliance leader.

“I find I have to be task-oriented even when being ambassador,” said another senior pharma business development and alliance leader.

A leader in a large high-tech company with an immature alliance practice commented that, “since it’s a new alliance management function at our company, the ratio is much higher. We have to do the WIFM—‘what’s in it for me?’—lots of meetings, lots of time spent,” the exec explained. Her boss “spends 90 percent of his time as ambassador and is more networked than most senior leaders at company,” she continued, adding, “But we do split duty—you can evangelize, but you can’t deliver the goods if you’re not executing.”

Another leader commented that “it’s a fallacy that software will solve the problem, that [you can]manage by software, manage by milestones, and forget about alignment. Then you are managing instead of leading. And if leaders are not leading, managers default to tactical.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s coverage of the Leadership Forum and other seminal leadership discussions at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

Tags:  ARM Partners  boundary bridgers  communication  Dave Luvison  McKinsey  stakeholders  strategic alliances  The Rhythm of Business  Timothy B. Steele 

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‘Like Putting Together a Puzzle’: IBM Execs Tackle Cyber Security Concerns of Multi-Party Alliances in 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum Keynote

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, November 2, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Threat factors are a growing concern for alliance managers coordinating multi-party, multi-industry collaborations. They need to consider the potential new channels created by their complexity, such as shared information and data. That message was woven into the keynote address “Cyber Security Ecosystem Meets the Customer Experience” presented by Mitch Mayne, public information officer at IBM, and Wendi Whitmore, global lead for IBM’s X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS), at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17, at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California.

IBM has streamlined two separate cyber security response teams: one that deals with major security breaches and another that focuses on threat intelligence, detection, and response. The teams are oriented toward both internal and external communications in the event of a major pandemic cyber attack, the speakers explained. IBM is partnering extensively with more than 200 companies on cyber security response “through shared relationships with private and public companies,” explained Mayne. “Cyber security is a lot like putting together a puzzle. No one team has all the pieces. Our system helps us better protect clients and ourselves, and increases the speed of response.”

He then introduced IBM’s Cyber Range, an immersive, lifelike environment, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for simulating a breach. The Cyber Range teaches about appropriate, timely responsiveness by taking attendees through an actual breach that includes answering multiple ringing phone calls from the press and FBI. The program drives home the importance of having an integrated plan and a responsive, educated company culture.

The hand’s on teaching tool includes actual technology that “responders would be using. What the range is really fast at is increasing communications and awareness between groups,” Whitmore said.

Best practices are shared between teams, such as coordinating the split-second communication needs of executives with the slower pace of tech teams, which must compile and analyze large volumes of data. For example, the C-suite needs to understand why it could take four hours or even three days to assess data, she explained further. “It really increases perspective, and we have seen organizations really transformed by the process.”

It’s about building a cyber security culture within the company, Mayne added. Additionally, the Cyber Range instructs on the dos and don’ts of how and what to communicate to the press, clients, and internally: “How do you manage them during a breach?” He then provided some tips:

  • Have a holding statement prepared in advance that could cover a variety of incidents and you can release at a moment’s notice.
  • Let employees know ahead of time what is acceptable to say and do.
  • Do not speculate: Release only factual information and shows you have command of the situation.

In October, IBM plans to unveil the next level of the Cyber Range.  The Mobile Range will visit the National Mall in Washington, D.C., universities on the US east coast, and Europe in January.

During the Q&A session, an attendee described having just signed a multi-party contract with extensive language on cyber security response responsibilities.

“You have to ask your partners, ‘Do you have a plan in place if something like this were to happen?’” Mayne replied.

In another question, someone pointed out that compartmentalization helps with security, but then asked, “How do we partner and make sure these things are worked through?”

“Compartmentalization has created a lot of the problem,” replied Whitmore. “The more you can have increased communication between the stakeholders, the better your chance that you can quickly work through these scenarios.”

See more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. Learn more about the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Channels  communication  Customer Experience Mitch Mayne  Cyber Security  Disruptive World  Ecosystem  IBM  IRIS  Mobile Range  partner  partnering  shared information and data  stakeholders  Wendi Whitmore  X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Service 

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ASAP Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award Presented to The Synergist-Sanofi for Innovative ‘Break Dengue’ Initiative

Posted By Noel B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility award is an indispensable leg on the table of four ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards presented to finalists each year at the annual Global Alliance Summit. Submissions for the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility award were starkly absent in 2016, but this year three outstanding finalists stepped up to the plate to vie for the honor. The winner was pharmaceutical company Sanofi and The Synergist, a Brussels-based non-profit. Sanofi was looking for new and progressive ways to educate the public about dengue fever, and the “Break Dengue” multi-partner initiative with The Synergist and several other entities was hatched in response. The award was announced at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise,” which took place at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California.

Sanofi is well known in the pharma industry; The Synergist is a nonprofit newcomer that builds collaborations by piecing together the right people and organizations for the project. The Synergist works to “bring together the stakeholders that can make a difference. These include corporations, academics, other experts, medical professionals, patients, and NGOs,” according to its website www.thesynergist.org. Founder Nicholas Brooke was CEO of ZN, a Brussels-based digital marketing agency, when he became inspired by a TED Talk by Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” (view talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action). Brooke had enjoyed financial success at ZN and decided to leave the company to build The Synergist with an agenda for solving social or societal issues and the motto “Partner for Greater Societal Impact.”

ZN began the Break Dengue project as a way to start building awareness for dengue fever, a neglected tropical disease. Sanofi Pasteur then seized the opportunity to join the effort and signed on to the project. This decision had a profound impact on Sanofi Pasteur’s corporate culture. Celine Schillinger, head of innovation and engagement, was one of many in her company who embraced the challenge. She told hundreds of partnering executives: “I want to change the way organizations work. I want to make business more humane and more relevant to what employees, customers, and stakeholders at large want today.” (See link on Sanofi’s goals at http://www.strategic-alliances.org/blogpost/1143942/270931/Changing-Corporate-Culture-To-Create-Social-Impact-A-Plenary-by-Celine-Schillinger .)

The Break Dengue multi-party alliance is unique because no one group or stakeholder promotes the answer. Instead, the alliance brings in different groups with diverse and unique strengths. For example, the Malaria Consortium joined to provide expertise in combating mosquito breeding grounds. Reflecting on the collaborative created for Break Dengue, Celine Schillinger remarked: “If we can overcome [the competitive mindset], we can fulfill something that’s bigger than ourselves and bigger than our organization's goals.”

Several innovative processes turned the project into a success. The collaboration has been in place for two years working to raise awareness and reduce incidence. It has become the No. 1 source and presence for public information about dengue fever by connecting healthcare providers, NGOs, researchers, local groups, and pharma. Break Dengue also has created an online scientific community known as “Dengue Lab.”

“This community is the greatest online platform used to collaborate and share efforts to combat dengue fever,” remarked Aaron Hoyles, program manager at The Synergist, during an interview shortly after the awards ceremony. For example, as part of its collaborative efforts, “Break Dengue was able to raise awareness about dengue fever during the 2014 World Cup through a campaign called ‘Red Card to Dengue.’ The campaign reached over one million followers, receiving over 81,000 views on its YouTube video.”

An online dengue tracking tool was then created to allow endemic areas to interact with a chat tool that helps them learn if they, or someone they know, has been exposed. The tool allows a map to pop up that people can view to determine the status of dengue fever in their area, along with information on sources of treatment or prevention. The Break Dengue website can be viewed at this link: https://www.breakdengue.org/

Tags:  “Break Dengue”  Celine Schillinger  collaboration  Corporate Culture  dengue fever  multi-partner initiative  Nicholas Brooke  Sanofi  Simon Sinek  stakeholders  TED Talk  The Synergist 

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‘Design in Pencil’ as You Integrate Change into the Design Thinking Process (Part One): BioPharma Partnering Execs Explore How to ‘Get Smart Quickly’ and ‘Change as Needed’

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Participants packed the “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” workshop at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, diving into the 90-minute session to gain insight into design thinking as an innovative strategy that can be applied to alliance management.

Though design as a way of thinking in the sciences was explored as early as the late 1960s, the approach was expanded on by Rolf Faste at Stanford University in the 1980s and 90s. Design thinking was adapted for business purposes by Faste's Stanford colleague, David M. Kelley, who in 1991 founded IDEO, which focuses on a human-centered approach to innovative, problem-solving solutions.

Led by ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University professor, Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, the interactive session drew from IDEO as well as an IBM model that can be adapted to help alliance management teams solve problems at the speed and scale today’s corporate world demands. The workshop was designed to provide participants with proven tools and techniques that can immediately be put to use to align operating processes—or to address any complex problem. 

“When you know what you need to learn, you can get smart quickly,” Twombly stated as she explained how the design thinking process defines the problem and then uses the basic framework to arrive at desired customer process and outcomes.  Implementation of the solution always involves the needs of the end user.  However, iteration, the repetition of a process, is key to assessing outcomes and implementing change. And the iterations change as you begin to think smarter, she said. 

“You need to identify assumptions, and then ID info that was derived from that assumption and decide if the assumption was good or bad. But do it in pencil,” Twombly warned the group. “Give yourselves the opportunity to change as needed. Take time out of the process to do this.”

Key points in assessing end user needs and gaining other stakeholders’ inputs:

  • Interview with empathy, put stakeholders at ease, talk to invoke stories, give examples, and be specific.
  • Question statements—repeat back what you’ve heard to arrive at “yes” in an agreement and move forward.
  • Look for inconsistency and for nonverbal cues, such as, hesitation in a voice and areas that need to be worked through.
  • Do not ask leading questions and don’t give them the answers—let them come up with the truth of how they think and feel.
  • Find ways to work so you can be more efficient and effective.

Twombly cautioned that when working in tandem with another group, act as a joint think tank where you both develop a concept and don’t develop competing concepts in isolation and then fight over them. Think of how others might feel if the proposal they worked on, on their own, was roundly rejected. She then asked the participants grouped by tables to develop three questions that need to be asked of team member. 

At this point in the workshop, Shuman began to actively work with the groups. The questions needed to look at “what we’ve experienced that gets at what was wrong with the process.” The purpose of the questions is to generate design strategy from design thinking. Questions developed by the groups included:

  • What is frustrating about the ways we collaborate?
  • What is the value of meetings?
  • What about this process keeps you up at night?
  • What do you think is working about the collaboration?  What isn’t working?
  • How do you feel the meeting is going?  Be candid.
  • What defines a great collaboration meeting?  What does it accomplish?

“Use the questioning process to see what matters and then base your design on it,” Twombly said. “Ask why and how. It’s always good to gather data in pairs. One asks questions and one captures data. Order the answers in a series of needs statements, as in: 

Question: Why do we need more efficient acceleration?

Answer: We need greater efficiency to drive the agenda, to get the product to the customer.

Question:  If that is why, then how do we get there? 

Stay tuned to the ASAP Blog for Part Two of our coverage of Twombly and Shuman’s design thinking workshop, as well as continued blog posts about other informative and provocative sessions that ASAP Media team covered during last week’s 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference at the Revere Hotel Boston Common. 

Tags:  alliance management  Bentley University  collaboration  customer  David M. Kelley  design thinking  IBM  IDEO  innovative strategy  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  problem-solving solutions  Rolf Faste  stakeholders  Stanford University  The Rhythm of Business 

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The World of Design Thinking: How It Informs Rethinking Alliance Management for the New Faces and Places of Biopharma Partnering

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, September 1, 2016

 “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” is a 90-minute, hands-on workshop offered at the upcoming 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. Led by The Rhythm of Business’s President, Jan Twombly, CSAP, and Principal Jeff Shuman, CSAP, PhD., the workshop will be taking common alliance problems and advising participants on how to understand and apply an adaptation of design thinking to solve them. This workshop will introduce several different techniques along with multiple examples. In this brief interview, Jan Twombly provides a primer on design thinking and what participants can expect. 

What is design thinking?
It’s a methodology for solving complex problems that’s particularly useful in unfamiliar settings, such as partnering with multiple partners, non-asset based alliances, and partnering with sectors that run on much faster clock speeds. It started out as something used for product design, but the data-driven, user experience-focused practice has become very popular in broader business applications because it centers on innovation and complex problem solving. We’ve adapted it for partnering practices. It zeros in on the user’s needs, wants, and limitations, and makes sure that you are providing an experience they value. The tools and techniques take a user-centered approach to aligning processes and interests between and among partners, especially among new faces. It hones in on core problems so that alliance managers can really understand what is needed to solve for, and makes sure they identify the key assumptions in the proposed solutions to understand the data to be gathered to determine if it’s working or not working. In an alliance management context, the users are primarily your internal stakeholders and the equivalent at partner companies. 

How is it used in alliance management?
If you tie back to the conference theme, we live in a world where we are partnering with new partners and in a time of intense competition to get to market first. More and more in R&D is getting externalized, and to drive efficiency in all these new alliances, we need to evolve how we manage alliances. We can use design thinking to really rethink alliance processes, and thereby drive the speed, innovation, effectiveness, alignment, and efficiency required today. You can use design thinking to ensure that your alliance processes and the way you go about collaborating are providing stakeholders with the partnering experience they need to achieve alliance objectives, given the complexity of the relationships and the fact that there is a race to get the most desirable assets and align with companies that will achieve your objectives. We have looked at various ways to do that—starting with IDEO, which created the methodology that is now adapted and used by companies such as IBM, Google Ventures, Bayer, GE Healthcare, and Novo Nordisk. We’ve studied how they are utilizing it and have applied it to alliances in a method we call Partner by Design. 

You collaborated on an interesting article in the Summer 2016 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine entitled “Mastering the Speed, Scale, and Scope of Partnering for the Connected Ecosystems of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” How does design thinking fit into the fourth industrial revolution?
Basically, where it aligns is the fact that partnering processes and the way we have been going about partnering have to change and reflect the speed of innovation today. Partnering processes must reflect the needs of the always-on customer. As business people, we increasingly expect to have the same experience when engaging with companies such as Google, Amazon, or Nordstrom. These are companies known for delivering a great customer experience. This means that we need to change the way we go about partnering. The new business models are outcomes-based, where no value is realized or captured until the end customers get their value. That changes the rules of partnering. You can’t use the same best practices we’ve been using forever. The fundamentals apply, but the new environment demands reflection and evolution. 

Tags:  alliances  Amazon  Bayer  ecosytems  GE HealthCare  Google  IBM  Indutrial Revolution  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  Nordstrom  partner  Partner by Design  partnering practices  stakeholders  Strategic Alliance Magazine  The Rhythm of Business 

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