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‘Collaboration Is Not a Natural Phenomenon’: Mapping a TE-AM Road to Successful Alliances, Part Two

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Thursday, September 14, 2017

“Study after study has shown that collaboration is not a natural phenomenon. It’s more normal to be competitive or to work within your team (tribe),” according to Lynda McDermott, (CA-AM), president of EquiPro International, Ltd., an international management consulting firm which specializes in leadership, team and business development for the Fortune 500, midsized companies, and professional services firms. McDermott made this assertion during her pre-conference workshop, “Next Gen Alliance Management: Moving your Organization to Ecosystem Performance Excellence,” one of the sessions on opening day of the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaboration: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” held September 13-15 in Cambridge, Mass. USA. (See Part One of ASAP Media’s two-part blog coverage of the workshop, a highly abbreviated version of the customized all-day ASAP TE-AM Training course McDermott offers to alliance professionals.)

 

The purpose of the all-day workshop McDermott teaches is to make alliances future proof. Based on exhaustive research, the ASAP TE-AM Training is designed to help put that structure in place so that teams that undergo the training can become a preferred alliance partner. The question is, how do we get from a non-collaborative group to one that effectively functions as a team and actively collaborates with partners?

 

McDermott took a head count of how many attendees considered themselves to be alliance professionals, regardless of their title. Most in the room raised their hand, except for one man who is involved in creating a start-up. She then asked, as alliance professionals, what skills or knowledge do they need? The responses ranged from the ability to communicate, having an awareness of resources, and seeing the overall picture, to understanding their roles and learning “what can be shared and what can’t, and when to share.”  

 

Even if people are not in an official role, they need to be on board with creating and sustaining an alliance, McDermott asserted. They need to know what the best practices are as well as which skills are needed.  But even after acquiring the needed skills, rarely might individuals be truthfully assessed as being part of a partnership, even an informal one. Partners need to do more than exchange business cards and talk on the phone periodically. For many, despite their training, nothing further happens because their training was geared toward individuals and a development of their unique skills. It is not targeted to acquiring group skills with a team that can then move on to build an effective alliance.

To address this oversight, ASAP applied mapping to figure out which techniques might work and which might not.  The result was an approach to creating better alliance teams—an approach intended to be customized to individual organizations.

 

The mapping involves the creation of three benchmark assessments with corresponding questions. The questions are grouped around a Framework assessment, Team Dynamics assessment and a Lean and Agile assessment. Based on responses to the questions, teams can assess what works and where they were most weak. Following the assessments, a road map can be based on areas that need the most development. This roadmap is a work plan that requires team action—which requires achieving a buy-in specific to that team.

“It’s important to get them on the same page,” McDermott explained. “The point is to teach people collaborate skills that involve skill-building exercises and debriefings. Sometimes, these assessments need to be refreshed every six months or so to keep the team on track,” she added.

 

“It’s also important to build a network that respects differences. There will always be cultural differences. The dynamic of adversarial conflict vs. building trust is always present. If a team isn’t having conflict, they will not be able to effectively organize,” she cautioned. (Be sure to read the Q3 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine’s in-depth coverage of the topic of conflict management—which includes insights from McDermott and other experts on how to use creative conflict to advantage.) “Ask, how can we work together? The degree to which this can be accomplished improves the efficiency of an alliance, despite conflict. Truthfully, there will always be conflict, but you learn to manage it.”

 

Additional words of advice McDermott offered include:

  • Never believe that people naturally behave collaboratively.
  • Remember, you are not a therapist but a facilitator.
  • You must talk at deep level when something’s not right—for instance, there may be power issues, gender issues, etc.

Finally, McDermott noted, the TE-AM workshop is fast. It helps to focus on the strategic side of alliance management. It provides a process to uncover the gaps. “It allows the group to discover the group,” she said.

Tags:  alliance  alliance manager  Framework assessment  Lean and Agile  Lynda McDermott  partner  Strategic Alliance Magazine  Team Dynamics assessment  TE-AM Training  training 

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Sharing Alliance Management Capabilities across Enterprise and Globe: Takeda’s Center of Excellence Case Study

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Friday, September 11, 2015

Organizations today are collaborating at a pace that far outstrips the available resources of most alliance management organizations. While many collaborations don’t call for a full-time alliance professional, stakeholders typically need access some level of alliance management capabilities. At Wednesday’s ASAP Leadership Forum, held on the opening day of the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, I chatted with several seasoned biopharma alliance executives about how they increasingly are being pulled into advisory roles for new types of alliances—presenting exciting opportunities, yes, but piling more responsibilities onto an already heavy workload.

 

Developing a “center of excellence,” or COE, for alliance management represents an increasingly common approach for distributing the toolkits and tool-using expertise of alliance management more broadly across the organization for the use of both dedicated and part-time alliance managers. Takeda, Japan’s largest pharma company with ¥1.778 billion  annual revenues, built an ASAP Excellence Award-winning COE guided by alliance management practice but heavily engaging stakeholders outside the function in the COE’s design. On Thursday afternoon, three Takeda executives shared their methodology, challenges, and results in a conference session titled “From the User’s Perspective: An Alliance Management Center of Excellence Success Story.”

 

Two of Takeda’s senior directors of global alliance management, Gray Hulick, CA-AM, and Jenny Rohde, CA-AM, set the stage by describing the COE’s development and the cross-functional team involved. “Our main finding”—and driver of the COE—was that “Takeda didn’t have consistent approach to managing alliances,” explained Rohde. Takeda had a vision of the COE as “a hub for members to access alliance management tools, training, and share best practices, guided by an executive steering committee from across the organization, inclusive of functional area heads, and staffed across the globe.”

 

The COE was carefully designed from the end-user—meaning non-alliance executive—perspective.

 

“We did detailed needs assessments with the idea of really creating tools that our members need,” Hulick explained. “Interestingly, the needs are remarkably similar. People didn’t have access to tools, formal or informal alliance management training, and were unclear about what they were supposed to be doing in their jobs.” So for some end users, the COE’s key job was to make existing assets accessible. “We utilized in many cases tools and training we had access to—we already have toolkits focused on development and commercial partnerships.”

 

However, Takeda at that time lacked a research alliances toolkit—“something much more streamlined for research alliances,” as Hulick put it. This was developed with the deep involvement of Takeda’s third presenter—Kentaro Hashimoto, PhD, associate director of the oncology drug discovery unit in Takeda’s pharmaceutical research division. The need for the toolkit is clear. “More than 50 percent of our pipeline now comes from external partners—so as a research division this shows how important external innovation is to us,” Hashimoto said. More than 200 research alliances translated into an overwhelming task for non-professional managers. “Sometimes scientists serve not just as investigator and project manager, but also as alliance manager,” and across Takeda there was “a diversity of mindsets on how to manage alliances,” he explained. “Our vision is to have access to a worldwide network of scientific excellence” enabled by partnering excellence.

 

The toolkits—developed by the global team of end users and alliance executives that comprise the COE—were originally written in English, but then were translated by Japanese end users as a means of increasing end user ownership and making sure that the content is actionable by these end users. Takeda also has chosen not to mandate their use, but rather to create end-user pull for these resources.

 

Hashimoto shared several key lessons learned.

 

“I have to be honest, in the real world, it’s not so easy,” he said. “It really takes a long time to change mindset, people’s behavior, because they have their own experiences, and alliance managers have their own skills and experience too. So it can be difficult to move to a new way. Finding the right balance is important. You need to use alliance management toolkits and skills in the right time and right way. For example, forcing consensus (to sign the deal) at an early stage among researchers is not always the right way. You need to give them time before pushing for consensus. And governance—you can try to keep it as in the original contract, but sometimes the science brings things you didn’t realize, and you should follow the science, be flexible, even change if needed.”

 

Hashimoto emphasized that his involvement in the COE was a rewarding experience in many ways.

 

“I always enjoy working with COE core members. It was exciting to be part of this initiative.” And, he added, “From the user’s perspective in the research division, I got a chance to understand how our alliance management [capability] applies in a very objective way to our research activities. And we had the chance to develop by ourselves the toolkits and training programs to make our activities better.”

Tags:  2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference  alliance management  ASAP Excellence Award  center of excellence  COE  Gray Hulick  Jenny Rohde  Kentaro Hashimoto  Takeda  training 

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