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ASAP’s Summit Kicks Off with Partnering as a Path to Growth, Even—or Especially—in a Pandemic

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Day one of ASAP’s first-ever virtual Global Alliance Summit got off to a great start today, with opening remarks by ASAP president and CEO Mike Leonetti and board chair Brooke Paige, along with two fascinating keynotes and the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards presentation.

Leonetti began by thanking everyone not only for gathering together virtually, but for “sticking with us” as both the date and format of the Summit had to be changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He also noted that alliances and partnerships everywhere are still working hard and driving business growth, as well as “saving the world” by collaborating in efforts to combat and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. He also reminded everyone that “even though we can’t get together, we can learn from each other” via ASAP tools and publications, 365 days a year, and that the goal of all our partnering efforts is “not only to survive the new normal, but to thrive and prosper.”

Paige also acknowledged that “the world looks completely different now from when we were last together,” but said that given the economic and health challenges of the pandemic, “there has never been a better time for alliance management.” She felt that alliances and partnerships actually have “an incredible role” to play in countering the pandemic and its effects.

Fighting Cancer and Learning to Be a Good Partner

This remark was reinforced by the first keynote this morning, given by Dr. Louis B. Harrison, MD, FASTRO, vice president, chief partnership officer, and chair of the radiation oncology department at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. “A Cancer Center’s Experience Developing Clinical Partnerships and Alliances: Opportunities and Cautions” showed how a top-flight US cancer research center has used partnerships to increase patient access and provide more widespread cancer treatment in various communities—especially important now, given the greatly reduced travel due to COVID-19.

Dr. Harrison admitted that he is not an alliance professional and is still “a rookie” when it comes to alliance management, but stressed that “we can’t just do business the way we used to” and that it’s up to institutions like his center to do their best to learn to “be a good partner” in order to further the goal of better and more widespread health care. And in any partnership, he said, “They have to want you, you have to want them, and you have to behave in such a way that you bring it all together in a win-win.” (For more on Dr. Harrison and his work, see my June 8 ASAP blog post, “‘A Commonality of Spirit’: How a Cancer Center Partners to Help More Patients.”)

Music to the ears of the assembled alliance management multitudes tuning in to ASAP on Vimeo for this virtual Summit, no doubt. Similarly, the next keynote also hit some familiar notes, but with variations appropriate to the different times in which we find ourselves these days.

Get Smart and Get Growing

Tiffani Bova is a growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, as well as the author of the book Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices That Will Make or Break Your Business (Portfolio/Penguin, 2018), the host of the What’s Next! podcast, and a frequent contributor to Forbes and other publications. Her presentation, “The Untapped Gold Mine of Building Trust, Unconventional Affiliations, and Iteration-Based Partnerships,” aimed to shed some light on what might be the best path or paths to the “New Future,” as she put it.

Bova challenged companies to ask themselves: “If we could do anything now, what would it be, in order to get us to this new future?” In her view, this should be subdivided into three phases, or tracks:

  1. Stabilize the business by mitigating short-term risks.
  2. Get people back to work—not necessarily back to the office, but productively employed as much as possible.
  3. Get back on track to growth, and remember that your customers and partners are going through this same journey as well.

In looking toward and navigating future growth, Bova highlighted four “focus areas” businesses can use. These are:

  1. Experience: This includes creating and delivering a beneficial experience to customers, partners, and the supply chain.
  2. Innovation: Noting that the pandemic-related shutdowns of retail and other businesses demonstrated a prior lack of investment in innovation, Bova pointed to shifts to digital, agility, use of communications, and ecosystems as ways of promoting innovation. (She also noted that “digital transformation” doesn’t mean just technology, but actually should be viewed through the lens of “people and process.”)
  3. Trust: Saying that studies have shown that businesses and consumers don’t trust brands—especially in the way they use their data—Bova posited trust as the “barometer” or “backbone of the relationship” between businesses and their customers and partners.
  4. Values: An important component of a brand in attracting employees, partners, and customers. At Bova’s own company, Salesforce, establishing values has meant supporting communities, using technology for good, and providing “help for everyone,” especially in the current conditions. This includes direct investments, having a 90-day no-layoff pledge, and collaborating with some of its partners such as AWS, Google, and Apple to provide aid to communities.

Pivoting and Partnering in the “New Future”

For Bova, “partnering in the new future” will mean maximizing existing business; entering new markets, regions, and industries; and launching new products. “This is not a time to cut back on costs,” she said, but rather represents an opportunity to leverage existing assets and capabilities to pave the way for future growth.

In looking back over the weeks and months of the pandemic, Bova said there’s been “a burst of learning” since early March, when the US along with many other parts of the world began in one way or another to shut down. One of the lessons has been “how quickly we needed to pivot,” she acknowledged, saying that using partnerships and coopetition are two of the ten paths to growth laid out in her book, Growth IQ. Even pre-COVID-19, more than half of CEOs saw creating new partnerships as a viable path to growth, but most of them also said that fewer than 60 percent of those partnerships have proven to be effective.

Bova added that the tenth path to growth in her book is “unconventional strategies,” and these include establishing partnerships with “unlikely bedfellows” and “disrupting current thinking.” She encouraged CEOs and other senior leaders to think seriously about what kinds of partnerships would help get them through the three phases of stability, getting back to work, and getting back to growth, and not to be swayed by some of the rumored downsides of partnerships: e.g., that they are too big and unmanageable, or that partnering means “we don’t make any money,” or that “we don’t own the customer.”

Tying some of these strands together, Bova asserted, “Your greatest sales force is your customers and partners advocating on your behalf.” If indeed partnering is one of those “unconventional strategies” she recommended, it looks like it’s one that, handled with care and best practices, should start propelling more enterprises down the path of future growth.

Keep checking this blog for more to come on the ASAP Global Alliance Summit, including the Alliance Excellence Award winners, highlights of the livestream presentations, and on-demand sessions as well.

Tags:  advocating  Apple  AWS  customers  experience  Google  Growth IQ  innovation  Louis B. Harrison  Moffitt Cancer Center  partner  Partnerships  Salesforce  supply chain  Tiffani Bova  trust  values 

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Pharma Alliance Leaders Making Adjustments to a Virtual, Stay-at-Home World

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Tuesday, April 28, 2020

During the COVID-19 crisis, it’s been heartening to see how many pharmaceutical companies—including a representative number of ASAP members—have stepped up their efforts to work toward vaccines and medicines to treat the virus, including partnering with one another and with government to speed up the processes of research and development, all while trying to keep regular manufacturing and supply operations going so that lifesaving drugs continue to reach patients who need them.

But as is true for all of us, the coronavirus has thrown significant obstacles in pharma companies’ path as well: Almost everyone is working from home, supply chains have been interrupted, sales reps can’t see physicians, and some companies in the biopharma ecosystem are already feeling the pain of financial distress.

So how are pharma alliance management groups coping with COVID? How are their teams communicating internally, reaching out to partners, and moving projects forward in the face of these hurdles?

Different Times, Different Strategies

That was the subject of an April 21 ASAP Netcast Webinar, “Alliance Management Practices in a Virtual World for Pharmaceutical Executives.” The four panelists were among the crème de la crème of big-pharma alliance leaders: Harm-Jan Borgeld, CSAP, PhD, MBA, vice president and head of alliance management for Merck Healthcare KGaA; Mark Coflin, CSAP, MBA, vice president and head of global alliance management at Takeda; David Thompson, CSAP, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company; and Steve Twait, CSAP, vice president of alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca. The webinar was moderated by Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP.

As Leonetti noted at the outset, “We are in very different times, and different times require different strategies.” Accordingly, the four alliance leaders shared their strategies and thinking in a number of areas, from keeping their teams humming along internally to communicating with partners to monitoring supply chain and manufacturing issues.

Thompson observed that we’re currently living through a “worldwide inflection point,” a phenomenon not seen “since probably the 1930s and ’40s, where the entire world is experiencing something at the same time.” Twait concurred: “This is my 20th year in the alliance management space and I can say I have never seen anything quite like this before. COVID-19 is providing us with challenges I don’t think any of us ever anticipated.”

Buddies, Backups, and Break Times

Borgeld said one of the first things he and his colleagues at Merck in Germany did was to look at what would happen if alliance managers could not fulfill their duties, for whatever reason. So they created “a buddy system, where every alliance manager has a backup—even me. A member of the leadership team is my backup in case I would not be able to function. Also the partners have been informed of this backup system, so they know there’s always someone to contact.”

In this new world, alliance executives and their teams have had to figure out how to hold internal meetings virtually—and how often and for how long—how to carry out alliance governance, and how to interface with partners when everyone is working remotely and none of these activities can be done in person. Some of what they’ve done has changed over time already—going from two meetings a week down to one, for example, having shorter meetings, or making the meetings last only 45 minutes instead of an hour, both to give people a much-needed break that they might have formerly used to walk down the hall and “grab a cup of coffee,” as Twait put it, but also to allow for some “unstructured chat” time, in Thompson’s words.

In addition, half-day or full-day meetings across multiple time zones around the world have in many cases been condensed down to one- or two-hour videoconferences, which allows greater focus and prevents “virtual meeting burnout” while being “respectful of time zones,” as Coflin phrased it—especially important when partners and/or team members may be spread out across the globe.

There’s good and bad in this virtual situation, according to Thompson. “The upside of course is there’s a time savings, the downside is you’re not getting that human interaction,” he said. “You have to be more cognizant of how you’re going to structure your agendas for the meeting to get the most out of it.” Another positive that Twait has observed is that videoconferences today give us a window into each other’s lives—including children, pets, decorations in home offices or other rooms—and these help to build “interpersonal trust” in a way that wasn’t necessarily done pre-COVID.

Borgeld emphasized that while some of the same problems and issues arose before the virus took hold, now it’s even more critical to anticipate and address them, whether it’s coworkers who are trying to multitask and get work done while managing children at home, or partners who may be experiencing financial distress. In the latter case, he recommended, “Seek the dialogue early—it’s not important that you open the books. Focus on the alliance itself: what do we need to do? Come early, discuss it, and try to find a solution.”

Problems, Solutions, and Opportunities

Solutions can be hard to come by, especially where coronavirus is concerned, but more than one of the panelists mentioned the resourceful, flexible cooperation and collaboration between various biopharma organizations, leading to more partnerships and, hopefully, effective treatments and vaccines down the road.

“One of the things that’s very encouraging is the number of partnerships that are springing up all over,” said Twait. “Not just between pharma and pharma—we’re all working together, and many of those interests are around COVID. I’m seeing pharma to biotech, pharma to academia, pharma and others to nonprofits—partnerships of all types.”

Coflin backed up that assessment: “In this current environment where we’re looking for solutions on an urgent basis for humanity, there’s a lot of external innovations and partnerships that are rapidly forming, amongst companies, together with regulatory authorities, NIH, you name it. Everybody’s pulling together to find some solutions.”

Twait emphasized viewing the crisis as a chance to potentially change how things are being done for the better. “I try to look for the opportunities that are coming out of this, and it feels like now is the perfect time,” he explained. “What COVID is allowing us to do is to ask the question: Can we move faster, and are there ways to accelerate? It’s a great opportunity to use this burning platform and the urgency that we have to really challenge inefficiencies and change some of those internal and external processes.”

Shining Examples

Thompson advised looking at alliances with an eye toward contractual obligations, as well as the risks that may be triggered if those are left unfulfilled. “I would really recommend to everybody,” he said, “to do a thorough read of each contract: to go back through and with the lens of the business, human, and legal uncertainties and risks, foresee what’s in the contract, identify and begin to engage with the partners in a discussion now. To me that has been one of the most helpful exercises we’ve done, and also has allowed us to engage in productive discussions, because we’re identifying early the things that the contracts are pointing to. Regardless if you’re in or out of our industry, anybody who’s got a contractual relationship with anybody, that is worth doing.”

Coflin also mentioned being aware of potential supply issues, which can be dicey at a time like this. “The supply continuity is critical to the patient,” he acknowledged. “These are lifesaving medicines in some cases. So we look very carefully at the supply chain, and have since the very beginning of COVID-19, looking not only at the current inventory but also…where it’s sourced from—in some cases China, [or] Italy, and others where we’ve run into a very challenging situation with logistics. The amount of flights is less than it used to be, including cargo, so it is something that requires constant evaluation of risk and constant discussion with our partners.”

Asked for final thoughts, Borgeld gave this exhortation: “Focus on your team. Make [it] so that they can shine in this difficult environment. It’s an environment where there are challenges, and that has to be recognized. Focus on the team, make sure that the team feels that [its] needs are addressed.”

After the four panelists had answered a number of questions, both from Leonetti and the large audience sitting in on the webinar, Leonetti thanked them for sharing their insights and experiences. “You are a shining example of our community, our willingness to collaborate with each other, and our willingness to help share best practices that ultimately make us better partners and better future partners,” he said. “I can’t thank you all enough for bringing this forward and helping to keep our ASAP community alive during these virtual times.”

Tags:  academia  Alliance Leaders  alliance manager  AstraZeneca  best practices  biotech  COVID-19  David Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  Harm-Jan Borgeld  manufacturing  Mark Coflin  Merck Healthcare KGaA  partnerships  Pharma  Pharmaceutical Executives  Steve Twait  supply chain  Takeda  virtual 

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Q1 2018 Strategic Alliance Magazine: The Changing Face of Data Security in Multi-partnering; Insights from Genpact’s Donna Peek; Global Alliance Summit Preview; Happy 20th, ASAP!

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, March 12, 2018
Updated: Saturday, March 10, 2018

Is your company risking underinvestment in data security during a time of major digital transformation? That’s one of the big questions posed in the 2018 Q1 Strategic Alliance Magazine, which is packed with information on emerging security trends that impact today’s evolving multi-industry, multi-partnering ecosystem. “The amount of digital disruption that is occurring—whether in IoT sensors, new business models, the amount of data being produced every day, and the introduction of the cryp­tocurrencies—is creating unlimited opportunities for threat factors … that bad actors can attack,” remarks Steve Benvenuto, senior director in the global security part­ner sales organization at Cisco Systems.

Adding to that challenge: “At the current churn rate, about half of all S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next ten years,” according to Innosight management consulting company. Risking a security breach in the present climate could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The package of articles provides insights on implementing and maintaining secure systems, especially in light of evolving multi-industry, multi-partnering business models. Citing the US government’s 2017 release of its first “Guidelines and Practices for Multi-Party Vulnerability Coordination and Disclosure,” the articles delve into a range of related cutting-edge topics:

  • Evolving blockchain technology, a promising new framework for supply chain security
  • Case studies on innovative new supply chain models in the pharmaceutical, automotive, shipping, food, and other industries, as explained by NetApp’s Ron Long, CSAP
  •  “Digital Transformation > Changing Business Models > the Impact on Security in Partnering,” what alliance managers need to know to stay abreast of the change, through the eyes of Philip Sack, CSAP, of CollaboRare & the Digital Leadership Institute
  • A behavioral scientist’s perspective on why CEO and company leaders tend to underinvest in security
  • Ideas for onboarding company culture and security protocols for an easy transition on the digital transformation wave

Companies need to carpe diem in this unprecedented, fast-evolving era of digital transformation, adds Donna Peek, CSAP, vice president of global alliances at Genpact, in this issue’s Member Spotlight. “Alliances have never been more strategic and collaboration skills never more vital to corporate success,” says Peek, a highly experienced alliance manager and member of the ASAP Board of Directors. She then provides readers with best practices and solid guideposts necessary for maneuvering today’s obstacle course of disruptions and digital transformation drivers.

The security package is not the only highlight of this issue: 2018 is ASAP’s 20th anniversary since its creation in 1998, a notable milestone that shows the foresight of its founders and value of its mission. Personal accounts and insights into the association’s evolution are provided by ASAP’s President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP, as well as early thought leaders Robert Porter Lynch, CSAP, and Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP. “[D]espite the indelible mark we’ve made in business—al­liance management is an essential function and capability in a wide array of leading companies and industries—we still need to roll up our sleeves today with the same bold­ness and vision that our founders had two decades ago. This is a call to action to all of you who are a part of this remarkable journey,” writes Leonetti in his Up Front column.

This issue then provides a synopsis of what’s to come at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Prov­en Practices for Collaborative Business,” to be held March 26-28 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. After providing perspective on the first Summit in 1999, during an era of boom boxes and floppy disks, the articles gives readers agenda highlights, previews of four plenary talks, workshop information, and a who’s who of finalists for the 2018 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards

Tags:  alliance managers  Best Practices  blockchain  breach  collaboration  data security  digital transformation  Donna Peek  Genpact  IoT  multi-industry  multi-partnerhing  NetApp  Phil Sack  Ron Long  Strategic Alliance Magazine  supply chain 

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Millennials, Entrepreneurs, and the Push and Pull of the Crowd—an Interview with Lorin Coles (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, January 22, 2018
Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018

During a recent interview for the Q4 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine, I spoke with Lorin Coles, CSAP, CEO and managing director of Alliancesphere, an alliance management and collaboration consulting business, on the topics of innovation, out-of-the-box thinking, and creativity in business partnering (see “Giving Birth to Innovation: The Brainchild of Out-of-the-Box Thinking”). Coles had many insightful and inspiring ideas on the topic, and due to limited space, some of these ideas didn’t make it into the magazine.

Following is Part Two of our two-part blog post based on additional materials from the interview with Coles. We pick up the story of The Coca-Cola Company, which as looking to build joint, adjacent business models and innovation practices, and how Coles and the American Israeli Chamber of Commerce began working with Coke’s chief innovation officer across the brands to on a trip to Israel.

Coles: Israel is sometimes called “the start-up nation.” Tel Aviv feels like a combination of New York, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley. People there have this belief that anything is possible, and it’s very contagious. They are not trying to do incremental innovation. They are trying to do breakthroughs. We put together meetings there with universities, venture capitalists, governments, entrepreneurs, and the incubator system. So everyone was well prepared with the kinds of things Coca-Cola was looking for to innovate. Coca-Cola already had a strong bottler in Israel but did not have a company-to-country innovation model. All kinds of deals and R&D came out of that. On the tech side, Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University, and the Volcani Institute ended up signing big agreements. Coca-Cola ended up creating a partnership with venture capital firms on the supply chain side. They created BRIDGE, and started looking at Israel from the tech, Internet, retail, and consumer side. It went from ingredients, supply chain, and water to information technology. That model has now been replicated around the world, including in China—both BRIDGE and an innovation hub were created. For me, all this falls under the umbrella of collaborative innovation, which involves collaborating and innovating differently by setting up hubs where certain parts of the world have capabilities.

The Crowd Factor
From the 1980s until now, I can track every big wave from a tech innovation standpoint. Over the past 40 years, the one thing I found was that every time disruptive tech occurred—you have the disruptor versus who is being affected—the leaders resist the change. They try their best, but in the end, the market wins. The customer is pulling it because:

  1. The experience is better.
  2. A network of ecosystem applications is built and driven around the change (the PC revolution and client server system drove it for many years, then mobile tech).
  3. Open systems, standards, and the market pull it (consider Über, it’s simpler and better than getting a taxi, it’s ubiquitous).

Read Part One of this blog for more insights from Lorin Coles, CSAP, and see ASAP Media’s in-depth interviews with Coles and other out-of-the-box thinkers in the Q4 2017 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine.

Tags:  alliances  Alliancesphere  BRIDGE  collaboration  critical partnering  ecosystems  Entrepreneurial Innovation  Gen X  incubator system  innovation hub  lifecycle  Lorin Coles  Millennials  Strategic Alliance Magazine  supply chain 

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Millennials, Entrepreneurs, and the Push and Pull of the Crowd—an Interview with Lorin Coles (Part One)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, January 19, 2018

During a recent interview for the Q4 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine, I spoke with Lorin Coles, CSAP, CEO and managing director of Alliancesphere, an alliance management and collaboration consulting business, on the topics of innovation, out-of-the-box thinking, and creativity in business partnering (see “Giving Birth to Innovation: The Brainchild of Out-of-the-Box Thinking Magazine”). Coles had many insightful and inspiring ideas on the topic, and due to limited space, some of these ideas didn’t make it into the magazine. Following is Part One of a two-part blog post based on additional materials from the interview.

The Cusp of Change
Coles: Today, it’s the most exciting time I’ve ever seen. Building the solutions and go-to-market has evolved because there are so many different routes to market to create that customer experience. So much has to do with digital technology—a lot of it is the leading edge. Also, crossing from the innovators to early adopters—we definitely have worked in many companies along that lifecycle. The market is at the point where they know how critical partnering, collaboration, and ecosystems are. Companies are all trying to figure out how to partner with tech companies in cross-industry partnering with three, four, five multiple companies at once to create a partnership.

The Influence of Gen X
The depth and breadth of partnering is so different, and I think we’re going to see a big change in the market: Clearly, the workplace is changing with millennials. They are moving up in the management structure, changing the makeup, and understand tech and partnering. People in their 40’s are now becoming leaders of companies. That group understands more intuitively. Another factor has to do with operating in a global landscape, where some cultures are more inherently collaborative. Also, the role of women in leadership—they are more open to collaboration. Finally, the Cloud—because of mobility and the Cloud and what is possible, tech is not sitting in the basement anymore. Uber, airbnb, artificial intelligence—all of these next-generation ideas are absolutely going to create business opportunities and a better world. 

Entrepreneurial Innovation
In 1999, I got involved with an organization in Atlanta—The American Israeli Chamber of Commerce. The Coca-Cola Company was looking to build joint, adjacent business models and innovation practices. We started working with the chief innovation officer across the brands, and we put together a trip to Israel. There were three core things Coca-Cola was trying to innovate around:

  • brands or products
  • capabilities: anything up and down that valley chain, such as technology, processes, ingredients, or science
  • packaging: an important part of fast-moving consumer goods companies

Before we went, we looked at four areas of innovation: Water, energy, ingredients, and the supply chain. I went to Coca-Cola before heading to Israel and gathered the problems and consumer and business challenges in those four areas.

Learn more about the story of Coca-Cola, Israel, and innovation in Part Two of this blog sharing more of ASAP Media’s conversation on out-of-the-box thinking with Lorin Coles, CSAP, CEO of Alliancesphere. 

Tags:  alliances  Alliancesphere  collaboration  critical partnering  ecosystems  Entrepreneurial Innovation  Gen X  lifecycle  Lorin Coles  Millennials  Strategic Alliance Magazine  supply chain 

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