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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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‘Swimming in Partner Soup:’ 2018 ASAP BioPharma Keynote Addresses Challenges of Tech Collaboration on Prescription Digital Therapeutics (Part 1)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dr. Corey McCann is a man who wears many hats—scrubs, academic cap, campaigner, jester, and even hardhat. As the first of two keynote speakers at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Creating Value and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” Sept. 24-26 in Boston, Massachusetts USA, he provided a lively presentation in which he showed the audience how he switches his hats with aplomb. In his captivating talk, “Lost in Translation: Communication, Confusion, and Consensus in Strategic Alliances,” the physician, scientist, entrepreneur, healthcare investor, and founder/CEO of Boston-based Pear Therapeutics, Inc., delved into the timely but tough topic of the alliance management interface between biopharma and tech.

Colleague Brooke Paige, CSAP and vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics, introduced McCann by lauding his many “heroic” accomplishments as founder of several startups, a trained boxer with endless energy, and highly approachable executive whom colleagues nicknamed “Snacks” because he rarely stops for a full meal.

McCann then delivered a clever, sometimes humorous, talk from the C-suite about the small, innovative company’s partnering with big companies in their quest to pioneer prescription digital therapeutics for the treatment of serious diseases, including addictions.  The cognitive behavioral therapy-based treatment is software that comes with a doctor’s prescription. The software responds and morphs over time, according to the needs of the patient. The downloaded product requires an access code from the physician.

“We are swimming in partner soup,” announced McCann as he talked about the challenges of Pear’s ample pipeline, which involves 10 products that require separate approvals from the FDA because of the unique framework of prescription digital therapeutics. “You will see us aggressively partnering across all of these verticals,” he continued, while flashing a slide of Pear’s pipeline.

Alliance management at Pear must bridge two distinctive worlds. Pear’s team is “half and half,” he explained: pharma is based in the Boston area; tech is based in the San Francisco Bay area. “We brought these two very disparate sets of people together” in one company—but to do that required a lot of effort to enable tech and pharma to understand the lingo of each’s area of work.   

“One of the things I would like to interweave into this talk is this idea of communication between alliance partners, and nonverbal cues, and how we are productive or nonproductive,” he said, while providing the example of etiquette surrounding the exchange of business card. “Even for those of us who think we have a handle on this very basic skill—this handing of paper to another human being—there is ambiguity.”

“How do entirely different disciplines communicate?” he asked the audience.  “There is an interface between tech and biotech. How tech people communicate with one another is very different than how biotech people communicate with each other.”

People in the two industries dress differently, he then explained. A person in the Bay area might “eat avocado toast and ride a scooter to work. … If I’m interacting with the tech team, I make sure to pet their dogs they bring to the office,” he explained in a sea of laughter from the audience. “One of my personal favorite examples is this issue of language. When pulling Pear together, we used the acronym API—which means Application Program Interface in tech, but for biotech, it means something different”—Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient.

It actually took a while for the two teams to figure out this discrepancy, he explained, again as the audience rippled with laughter. But in the end, the two industries found the glue that holds them together: “Impacting the patient. That is the rallying cry for us. That is how we approach partnership—through good and bad.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s coverage of Pear CEO Corey McCann’s keynote and other sessions at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference.  

Tags:  2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Alliance management  Alliance Mindset  biopharma  Brooke Paige  cognitive behavioral therapy  creating value  C-suite  Dr. Corey McCann  partnering  Pear Therapeutics  prescription digital therapeutics  software  Strategic Alliances  tech 

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Morphing Your Partnering Philosophy in a Changing World of Digital Drivers (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, March 29, 2018

Key sectors of the economy are struggling to adapt to disruptions from digital technologies, such as the cloud. The change is resulting in new business models and service sector opportunities in areas such as security and supply chains. This article continues our coverage of the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit session “Partnering with Change in a World of Ongoing Disruption.” Presenters Joe Schramm, vice president of strategic alliances at BeyondTrust, and Morgan Wheaton, senior director, global partner alliances & channels at JDA Software, addressed the considerable transformation in company culture that is needed to better enable new partnering models. The first part of the session covered emerging industry paradigms needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced, partnering-oriented ecosystems. These additional insights and excerpts are gleaned from the second half of the session.

Wheaton: JDA had a new CEO come in a year ago, and instead of replacing people he created a team of JDA employees to create a new culture. The culture at JDA is about three key concepts. Results—JDA is obsessed with delivering customer value. Relentlessness—we relentlessly drive new learning and innovation. Teamwork—we candidly and respectfully collaborate. So what kind of cultural change is needed to better enable new partner models? [The first change is] TEAM, which stands for Together Each Achieves More, a gradual change that takes time.

Schramm: Next on the list is [that] executives need to walk the talk: High-level executive alignment is critical.

Wheaton: Celebrate mutual success: Nothing gets more attention than selling a deal. It’s so very important to get the word out when we close a deal.

Schramm: Re-educate and reinforce. This is a big one as we go after new and different partners. We need to educate ourselves on what the win is with a new partner and why to go after them.

Wheaton: Compensation matters. I’m a coin-operated machine. Salespeople do what you pay them to do. Figuring out how to drive the right behavior through compensation is important.

Schramm: Transparent, open communications. Partners are in for the whole ride, and we need to include them.

In terms of the cultural change specific to BeyondTrust, there are lots of items. We emphasize passion—approaching each day with energy and enthusiasm. Teamwork—we work together and act as one. Customer and partner focus—the most important consideration, we are 100 percent committed to meeting the requirements of our customers and partners. Innovation—we work relentlessly to improve our products and processes for the benefit of customers, partners, employees, and the company. Integrity—we are honest and consistent in our actions.

Wheaton: So can alliance leaders design “future proof” alliances that accommodate ongoing disintermediation, otherwise known as cutting out the middleman in connection with a transaction or series of transactions? My crystal ball may not tell me what future technology will be like, but I know we will be involved in partnering. You need to put metrics in place. Sometimes you can’t future proof all alliances, sometimes you need to pull the ripcord and get out. Sometimes the pesky market shifts.

In summary, Schramm and Wheaton agree on implementing these key principles:

  • Listen and survey—be aware and anticipate changes.
  • Build a culture of “partner first.”
  • “Semper Gumby”—always be flexible; be ready to change things on the fly.
  • Execute today, but keep an eye on the future—monitor what’s coming while keeping an eye on the distance.

Tags:  alliance leaders  BeyondTrust  collaborate  collaboration  cultural change  Digital drivers  ecosystem  flexible  future proof  innovation  JDA  JDA Software  Joe Schramm  Morgan Weaton  Morgan Wheaton  partner first  partnering  partners  Semper Gumby  strategic alliances 

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Huawei’s Strategy for Partnering Success (Part Two): Focusing on Customer Challenges that ‘Only Innovative Partnering Solutions Can Solve’

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Updated: Saturday, March 3, 2018

This is the second of a two-part blog post based on my recent interview with Greg Fox, CSAP, a longtime ASAP member who is currently vice president of strategic alliances at Huawei Technologies, headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. For the past two years, Fox has lead Huawei’s efforts to build information and communications technologies (ICT) industry-leading alliance management competencies and global partnering capabilities.

 

Organizations that Huawei is most apt to forge alliances with are heavily driven and influenced by the needs of their business groups and associated business units, where Huawei products and solutions are incubated, produced, and delivered to the market.

 

According to Fox, during the early phases, he and his team were focused on traditional alliances in the IT space, including independent software vendors (ISVs), systems integrators (SIs), and key technology partners. As the business evolved and expanded beyond this core, it brought in a new era of partnering with non-traditional partners focused on specific industries.

 

“For example, we partner with GE Digital to push the industrial industry towards digitization and automation, with KUKA for smart factories to enable acceptance of the smart production applications in the manufacturing sector, and with the likes of Honeywell to bring to market smart building offerings that take advantage of the latest IoT [Internet of Things] technologies to help make buildings more sustainable, secure and energy efficient,” he said. “In our digital transformation platform effort, we are open to any mutually advantageous partnering arrangement, where we together can combine our capabilities and value to deliver customer success.”

 

Fox explained that some partners are global and cross-industry in nature, while others focus on specific industry business needs, where a relationship may just be tied to that industry. “We are finding that in this age of digital transformation and the desire for increased innovation, productivity, and growth, there are not absolute boundaries that exist. What we do today with a partner in one industry, as the business grows, and we prove things and show success, this may also lead to expanding that partnership to include another industry, and it can scale in breadth and scope, but also in depth.”

 

The most attractive areas of cooperation for Huawei today, and for the foreseeable future, are areas in which customers are experiencing their biggest business challenges that only innovative partnering solutions can solve. One of the central business challenges they face is how to foster innovation and achieve growth, and many are placing digital transformation at the center of their strategies through 2020. Yet, according to Forrester research, only 27% of businesses have a coherent digital transformation strategy in place for creating customer value. This is a major concern, and there is fear of becoming obsolete if this gap is not addressed.

 

Huawei’s goal is to be the digital transformation platform that connects intelligence, data, and devices, and that enables its customers to increase engagement with partners and develop applications that foster innovation. “The beauty of digital transformation is that its customer-centric marketing and business processes require the ability to work across business verticals and silos, which requires partners and ecosystems to achieve,” Fox said.

 

To learn more about Huawei’s partnering efforts, read part one of this blog as well as Genevieve Fraser’s Member Spotlight in the Q4 2017 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine. Greg Fox also co-presented, with Andrew Yeomans, CSAP, of Merck Serono, the January 18, 2018 ASAP Netcast webinar “Building the Engines of Collaboration Inside and Beyond the Borders of Mainland China.”

Tags:  alliance management  cloud  digital transformation  GE Digital  global partnering capabilities  governance structures  Greg Fox  Honeywell  Huawei Technologies  ICT  independent software vendors (ISVs)  manage alliance relationship  partnerships  strategic alliances  systems integrators (SIs)  technology partners 

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Huawei’s Strategy for Partnering Success (Part One): Tapping into the ASAP Community’s Best Practices, Professional Development, and Tools

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Monday, March 5, 2018
Updated: Saturday, March 3, 2018

Decades before Greg Fox, CSAP, assumed his current position as vice president of strategic alliances at Huawei Technologies, headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, he held senior strategy, channels, sales, alliance management, marketing, product management, and business development positions at Citrix, Cisco, Novell, and HPE. For the past two years, Fox has lead Huawei’s efforts to build information and communications technologies (ICT) industry-leading alliance management competencies and global partnering capabilities. Today, Huawei Technologies is the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world.

 

“Having a strategic alliance background has provided a competitive edge with prospective partners. In fact, strategic alliances are quickly becoming a core part of the Huawei culture and an embedded part of our business strategy,” Fox stated.

 

“And with Huawei’s global market leadership in key markets involving carrier, consumer, enterprise and now cloud, many companies want to do business with us for mutual business advantage. It is a nice problem to have, but that makes it ever more important that we do partnerships the right way, and we set them up for the long-term,” he explained.

 

Given the magnitude and scope of their current level of partnerships, Huawei has developed a tier-one companywide process called Manage Alliance Relationship (MAR) that focuses exclusively on managing the alliance relationship process. This includes traditional 1:1 alliances, as well as managing one to many and many to many partnerships.

 

As Huawei has adopted many of ASAP’s best practices and tools for partner evaluation, recruitment, and on-boarding, the alliance management organization has created many templates within the MAR process. These templates and tools are actively used in every current or prospective strategic partnership and have afforded Huawei a competitive edge in cultivating its growing portfolio of partnerships.

 

“We have a straightforward approach outlined by a five-step process to executing mutually profitable partnerships and as we follow this, we feel that we can improve the odds of success and ensure that all parties profit,” Fox said.

 

“The first step involves partners agreeing on a common set of objectives and a strategy for achieving them and being clear on what all sides get from the alliance. Next, partners must write out a business plan, including determining who is our customer, why will they buy from us, and what is our expected ROI [return on investment]. Third, partners must install governance structures that assign key responsibilities, clarifying who is responsible for what, and which has an identified sponsor who is senior enough to mobilize resources and change course if things go off track,” he said.

 

“Step four involves creating proper incentives for both the direct sales force and indirect channel, with compensation designed to get all parties to make the alliance a priority. And finally, every partnership should be flexible, and alliances must be reviewed quarterly to help leaders respond to changing business conditions,” Fox explained.

 

The five steps are not performed once and then set aside. Instead they are done in an iterative loop, where processes are refined, and targets regularly adjusted as needed, based on every changing competitive environment.

 

To learn more about Huawei’s partnering efforts, see Part Two of this blog as well as Genevieve Fraser’s Member Spotlight in the Q4 2017 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine. Greg Fox also co-presented, with Andrew Yeomans, CSAP, of Merck Serono, the January 18, 2018 ASAP Netcast webinar “Building the Engines of Collaboration Inside and Beyond the Borders of Mainland China.”

Tags:  alliance management  business development  channels  Cisco  Citrix  cloud  governance structures  Greg Fox  HPE  Huawei Technologies  manage alliance relationship  marketing  Novell  partnerships  product management  sales  strategic alliances  strategy 

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