Alliance Management Expertise, Partnering Frameworks and Tools, Collaborative Leadership

Bridging the Gap to the Next Normal
1. Partnering Guide / May 9th, 2020
As we try to find our way to the next normal for the economy and our lives, a tremendous leadership challenge presents itself to alliance professionals: How to reimagine the people-centric business of partnering when team members’ personal lives are disrupted or worse, remote work is the norm, there is great economic uncertainty, and intense pressure on resources? Add to this the fact that cross-industry, multi-partner as well as public-private collaboration is required to innovate our way out of this crisis. The number of partnerships for tests, vaccines, treatments, and medical equipment is exploding, as this graphic from CB Insights (Figure1) depicts. How can alliance management expertise be applied to this speed, scale, and scope of partnering so that time and money is not squandered by the inherent inefficiencies in partnering?

Even before...
A Message to Alliance Professionals: Let's Not Let the Crisis Go to Waste
4. News and Events / March 16th, 2020
Making Lemonade: Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

The unfortunate appearance of COVID-19 has all of us scrambling to keep our families, employees, and customers safe while keeping our businesses operating. At The Rhythm of Business, we’re taking all recommended precautions, ceasing travel, and the hosting of meetings in our offices until it is safe to gather in person again.
 
However, as the eminently quotable Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” We are following his advice and innovating how we deliver professional development and carryout our VitalSigns Alliance Operations Effectiveness Assessment to help the alliance management community continue to deliver value that ultimately benefits customers and patients.

Virtual Alliance and Collaboration Professional Development

Over the past several months, we’ve seen a big uptick in the number of companies wanting to offer alliance and collaboration training. In the spirit of lemonade from lemons—making the best of a bad situation—we are working with our clients to create virtual training sessions, following leading practices of distance meetings. We’ll take our day-long, or multi-day, in-person sessions and break them up into a series of webinars, making them interactive with polling and chat. In between webinars, we’ll host small groups to work on case studies, analyze situations, and take part in exercises to apply the learning. Jeff Shuman’s experience of many years of conducting MBA classes with a combination of in-person and online students is very relevant and helpful.

If you’ve been thinking about offering training to alliance team members, part-time alliance managers, or governance committee members, this is an opportune time to do so. Afterall, potential participants won’t be travelling any time soon. Here is a brief slide deck introducing our alliance and collaboration professional development offerings and how we tailor them to your current and expected portfolio of asset-based, service, digital, and data alliances, from the lab to interactions with payers.

Take the VitalSigns of Your Alliance

These challenging times require alliance teams to rally around a North Star focused on the value the alliance is intended to deliver to customers, patients, and the partners to the alliance. One way alliance professionals can deliver value to their stakeholders is to evaluate how well the alliance is collaborating and overcoming the inefficiencies that cause risk and prevent the partners from receiving intended value. Our VitalSigns Alliance Operations Effectiveness Assessment pinpoints the actions leadership and management can take now to guide their teams to overcome those inefficiencies, differences of opinion and ways of working, as well as to address simmering conflict and find innovative “third ways” that offer value creating solutions. We are taking the alliance governance committee workshops that are an integral part of this process virtual, meaning that we can speed up the realization of benefit by having a special purpose meeting that doesn’t need to wait for a spot on the agenda.

We’re Eager to Collaborate with You

There is no doubt these are challenging times. Collaboration and partnering has never been more important in all aspects of our lives. The Rhythm of Business is creatively addressing the challenge and ready to work with you to ensure that we make lemonade, innovating our way through this crisis.

In collaboration and partnership,

Jan and Jeff

Jan Twombly and Jeff Shuman
The Rhythm of Business
Reach Jan at +1 617.851.0135 or jan@rhythmofbusiness.com
Reach Jeff at +1 508.954.2896 or jeff@rhythmofbusiness.com
Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability--Part One of Four
1. Partnering Guide / March 15th, 2020
This is Part One of a Four Part post on adapting and applying certain principles of agile management as a means of meeting the increased demand for alliance management services as the scale, scope, and complexity of biopharmaceutical asset, service, digital, and data alliances and partnerships grows.

Download a pdf of all four parts of “Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability” plus “What to Do When it Gets ‘Just Too Hard.’”   


In our post What to Do When It Gets “Just Too Hard” we describe a challenge biopharmaceutical alliance professionals are facing: How to provide proactive, value creating alliance management services to company stakeholders and partners when the number, variety, and technical complexity of partnerships exceeds the ability of alliance managers to implement a traditional management model across the scale and scope of the overall corporate portfolio. A promising approach to the problem lies in adapting and applying certain principles of agile management. In this post we explore what is meant by agile and how it can be implemented in an alliance management context...
Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability--Part Two of Four
1. Partnering Guide / March 14th, 2020
This is Part Two of a Four Part post on adapting and applying certain principles of agile management as a means of meeting the increased demand for alliance management services as the scale, scope, and complexity of biopharmaceutical asset, service, digital, and data alliances and partnerships grows.

Download a pdf of all four parts of “Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability” plus “What to Do When it Gets ‘Just Too Hard.’”  
 


Read Part One of Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability

Practice Component 1:  Resourcing the Portfolio

One of the key reasons for reimagining alliance management as an agile capability is because there is currently a mismatch between the scale of enterprise partnering and professional alliance management resources. Current practice addresses this through traditional tiering and scoping that result in unmanaged alliances and diminished value to stakeholders of alliance managers who are spread too thin to deeply engage in their alliances....
Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability--Part Three of Four
1. Partnering Guide / March 13th, 2020
This is Part Three of a Four Part post on adapting and applying certain principles of agile management as a means of meeting the increased demand for alliance management services as the scale, scope, and complexity of biopharmaceutical asset, service, digital, and data alliances and partnerships grows.

Download a pdf of all four parts of “Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability” plus “What to Do When it Gets ‘Just Too Hard.’”  

Read Part One or Part Two of Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability


Practice Component 2:  Increasing the Agility of Alliance Management Practices 
 

There are many ways to build agility into alliance management practices. The Service Level Agreements between alliance managers and stakeholders shape expectations and focus resources on the work that delivers the greatest value to stakeholders and enhances the partner experience. Successful implementation of services requires standardization, meaning that everyone understands the language and how things are done....
Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability--Part Four of Four
1. Partnering Guide / March 12th, 2020
This is Part Four of a Four Part post on adapting and applying certain principles of agile management as a means of meeting the increased demand for alliance management services as the scale, scope, and complexity of biopharmaceutical asset, service, digital, and data alliances and partnerships grows.

Download a pdf of all four parts of “Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability” plus “What to Do When it Gets ‘Just Too Hard.’”  

Read Part OnePart Two, or Part Three of "Reimagining Alliance Management as an Agile Capability"
 
Practice Component 3:  Adapting the Alliance Management Organization

Typically, the resourcing model has been that each alliance has one alliance manager and that each individual has responsibility for multiple alliances. Certainly, there are exceptions for very large and complex alliances, and in advanced companies that have recognized the need for new ways of working, but by and large the traditional model remains entrenched. This means that alliance management functions, groups, or teams do not operate as teams; they operate as collections of individual contributors. Agility depends on purpose driven teams.

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Collaboration: Conceptually Simple, Operationally Challenging
2. Thought Leadership / March 10th, 2020
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Collaboration is one of the most misunderstood and overused concepts in business today.  There are many perspectives on what it is, ranging from the simplistic—working with other people to produce an outcome—to the complexity of the latest technical platform that allows data and documents to be shared. It is treated as a value, a competency, and even an event.

No wonder companies are struggling in their efforts to increase collaboration, as recently described by Harvard’s Francesca Gino. Yet building an organization’s ability to collaborate has become critical. The Institute for Corporate Productivity finds that the ability to collaborate is “highly correlated with market performance.”

Neither finding comes as any surprise. Collaboration is conceptually simple and operationally challenging. Our own hands-on experience, coupled with research implemented through our Collaborating to Win™ assessment of individual ability has consistently linked better collaboration to better outcomes. The key questions for leaders implementing strategies that hinge on partnerships and alliances with external parties are, “How to define collaboration as a behavior?” and “How to build it as an organizational capability…and advantage?”

This collection of posts from The Partnering Guide™ blog presents our perspective based on over 20 years of personal experience, research, and helping others implement collaboration as a strategic and purposeful way of working. We hope you find these posts enlightening and welcome your thoughts and stories of creating successful outcomes through collaboration.
Collaborative Leadership: The Antidote to the Collaboration Paradox
1. Partnering Guide / January 21st, 2020
Thus far in this series of posts on collaboration, we’ve defined it as a purposeful, strategic behavior that is easier said than done. This is because of both a failure to build the capability—the mindset, skillset, and toolset—to collaborate across boundaries and the collaboration paradox—the systems, processes, and policies that helped companies be successful in the past that today impede their ability to collaborate. In this post we look at both collaborative leadership and the leadership system required to support and implement the capability as the antidote to the people and organizational challenges of achieving success in cross-boundary collaborations....
What to Do When It Gets “Just Too Hard”
1. Partnering Guide / January 2nd, 2020
A very successful entrepreneur once told us she knew it was time to iterate her assumptions and change her business when the current way she was doing something was “just too hard.” Ever since that conversation, we watch for this signal. Alliance management within biopharmaceutical firms is showing many signs of hitting the tipping point where it is just too hard to continue implementing alliance management practices as is typically done. One of the key issues raised during our 2018 research project with more than 30 biopharmaceutical companies both large and small was the challenge of an ever-increasing workload—both a growing portfolio to manage and the increasing technical complexity of the alliances making up the portfolio.[1]

Lately...
Partnering Readiness: The New Strategic Leadership Agenda for Partnering Professionals
2. Thought Leadership / December 30th, 2019
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The final Strategic Alliance Quarterly of the decade features our article introducing the Partnering Readiness Stack, our outcome focused-approach to bring in agility, reduce the inefficiencies in partnering and ensure that the rhythms of partnering are not met with unnecessary friction and hurdles, whether in low-touch or high-touch, one-to-one, multipartner networks, or ecosystem arrangements.

Using data generated from interviews, a survey, and workshops with ASAP members, we share participants’ assessments of their current state of readiness and an overview of some of the initiatives they are undertaking. In the partnering everywhere world, the new strategic leadership agenda goes well beyond “partner of choice” and “centers of excellence” and requires knocking down barriers to collaboration, obliterating silos, and transforming the enterprise to enable a holistic, integrated partnering capability.
Five Skills for Collaborating Across Boundaries
1. Partnering Guide / December 26th, 2019
In our post Collaboration: Easier Said Than Done we said that leadership systems had to evolve to break the collaboration paradox—the barriers that impede collaboration, but enabled success in a prior business environment. That’s one part of the puzzle of making collaboration—a strategic and purposeful way of behaving and working— an organizational capability. There are also operational and execution skills to collaboration between entities in addition to the psychological skills and values such as openness, empathy, and delegation that are typically present when individuals behave collaboratively. [1]
 
Behaviors are ways of conducting oneself or how a group acts in response to its environment. On a psychological level, collaboration is a natural response to an environment of trust, transparency and respect. In that nurturing environment, one is more likely to be open to other’s ideas, empathetic to their concerns, and willing to give up some level of control and credit.
 
Organizations agree to collaborate to leverage and align the resources of each party for customer benefit which should result in mutual benefit for the collaborators. This requires uniting two or more entities that each have their own strategies, structures, cultures, goals, and processes, crossing organizational boundaries to access those resources. This adds complexity, risk, and challenge to the endeavor....
Collaboration: Easier Said Than Done
1. Partnering Guide / December 9th, 2019
Collaboration is a business buzzword that everyone thinks they know what it means and how to do it, but few truly do; yet it has never been more important than it is today. In addition to the lack of collaborative skills and mindset would-be collaborators also face a Collaboration Paradox— the systems, processes, and policies that have enabled success in the past reinforce barriers impeding success in today’s ecosystem-based collaborative business models. Developing the necessary capability—the mindset, skillset, and toolset for intra- and inter-organizational collaboration—is a work in process for most organizations. This capability also needs a backbone to latch itself to—the culture, policies, and processes of a leadership system that enable and encourage collaborative ways of working.
...
Partnering Readiness on the Agenda at ASAP European Alliance Summit
4. News and Events / November 8th, 2019
A diverse group of alliance professionals is convening in Amsterdam on November 14 and 15, 2019 for the ASAP European Alliance Summit. The Rhythm of Business is pleased to sponsor the event for the second year and to be offering Partnering Readiness: The Through Line from Collaborative Leadership to Collaborative Execution. Jan Twombly, CSAP, president will deliver the presentation

Partnering readiness means that throughout the organization, wherever it engages with external partners, the mindset, skillset, and toolset to partner well are infused in the culture, ingrained in behavior, and integrated into how work gets done.

The goal of partnering readiness is to introduce agility, reduce the inefficiencies in partnering, and ensure that the rhythms of partnering are not met with unnecessary friction and hurdles. This level of partnering everywhere capability is essential today. According to Cap Gemini, Institute for Corporate Productivity, MIT Sloan Management Review and others, the companies that are successful in becoming digitally-enabled and customer-obsessed—and therefore prepared to compete as we enter the 2020s—are those best able to collaborate internally and externally. These companies are ready to partner; purposefully and opportunistically, in one-to-one relationships, multi-partner engagements, and in ecosystems. They are breaking down barriers, incorporating the activities and rhythms of partnering with agility and ease into their solo activities.

Drawing upon research among the ASAP community and direct engagement with companies building their partnering readiness for today and beyond, the session:
  • Presents an actionable framework to describe partnering readiness
  • Identifies common organizational barriers to collaboration
  • Describes initiatives ASAP members have underway to remove the barriers 
Can’t be at the conference? Download the presentation now and contact us today to learn how you can help your company develop its partnering readiness.
Biopharmaceutical Alliance Management: Practices, Structure, Value
2. Thought Leadership / October 15th, 2019
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Alliance management is an essential discipline in biopharma companies, involved in driving the success—and managing the risks—of the many, varied partnerships and collaborations that deliver innovative therapies to patients. As a result, the ranks of alliance managers are growing.
 
Equally, alliance management is becoming a necessary stop in the career development of many executives. They assume a leadership role needing to quickly get up to speed on what is a sophisticated and demanding job, requiring both strategic and operational abilities, a high-level of emotional intelligence, and an ability to find creative solutions to problems.

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the core functions of biopharma alliance management to executives and practitioners new to the discipline. It discusses the core responsibilities, as well as provides guidance on resourcing strategies and the structure and organization of an alliance management function. While not exhaustive, it provides a roadmap to get started pursuing what is one of the most interesting, challenging, and essential jobs in business today.
Show a Little Alliance Management Love for Medical Affairs Presented at ASAP Biopharma Conference
4. News and Events / September 24th, 2019
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The 2019 ASAP Biopharma Conference is in full swing, with record attendance. The opening day included a session moderated by Jan Twombly, President, The Rhythm of Business on why collaboration between medical affairs teams in complex alliances is crucial and how alliance managers can be certain they are positioned for success, thereby increasing the likelihood the alliance will achieve its intended value...
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