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Kensington High on Alliance Management

Next to Hyde Park and a stone’s throw from Kensington Palace, alliance practitioners, advisors, and academics gathered at the Royal Garden Hotel on Kensington High Street, London September 20-22 for the ASAP European Alliance Summit. The conference was the perfect mix of learning about alliances and ecosystems across industries, leading alliance management practices, and current research on driving value in alliances.

Of course, there was lots of networking and socializing with friends old and new. For at least half of the attendees, this was their first ASAP conference. Participants hailed from across Europe, the US, and as far away as Australia. They were from multiple industries including, software, semiconductors, banking, energy, insurance, and biopharma to name a few.

What is apparent from this event is the degree to which alliances are being integrated into daily operations. Because The Rhythm of Business is a long-time sponsor of the Summit, Jan Twombly chaired the day one session in a predominately life sciences track. In that track we heard about how alliance professionals are answering a number of key questions.

Conference Highlights

Astra Zeneca’s Emma Barton’s and Jonathon Bell’s presentation on the value of alliance management in integrating acquisitions and the daily management of alliances. We know that the core job of alliance management is preserving and enhancing the value intended at the time of the deal – and managing the risks that can erode that value. Emma and Jon made the case that you can look at achieving the contingent value of a deal as at least partially due to the work of alliance management. That makes it essential for alliance professionals to focus on the key decisions and value drivers that lead to the contingent value. We would echo that – and add another element – realizing that value in the originally intended time frame.

George Rahim, newly retired as VP of Strategic Alliances at Ipsen, but certainly not retired from the profession, joined Nicholas Becker, Director, Alliance Management at Bayer in a lively discussion about how to conduct effective health checks. One of the conference participants from the energy industry encapsulated the purpose of health checks and other diagnostics such as The Rhythm of Business’ VitalSigns Alliance Operations Effectiveness Assessment as measures of leading indicators. These are the activities, behaviors, and conditions, that if they don’t occur, signal that the outcomes you seek are unlikely to be achieved.

The next day, Nicholas Becker shared a project that Bayer recently engaged in to get input on Bayer as a partner from a number of its partners. This “listening tour” as The Rhythm of Business calls it, is a very effective way to learn about how your partners experience working with your company in the protected environment of a confidential discussion with a third party.

Romuald Lainé, Head of R&D Alliance Management at Servier, discussed the considerations and challenges of integrating acquired alliances into the portfolio. This is an area where alliance leaders can provide real value by offering a view that looks at the strengths and weaknesses of each acquired alliance relative to the portfolio and providing a path forward to the business leaders that incorporates both business realities and the terms of the agreement

In a very interesting and important session, Annick de Swaef, founder of Consensa Consulting, shared with us how required disclosures about DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) initiatives and measures will very soon extend to alliance partners and require both active engagement and reporting of metrics. As collaborative practitioners we all believe these are valuable activities, but I don’t think many of us know that we will very soon be required to report on the activities of our alliance partners.

Our Research-Based Presentation

Jan presented on our work examining the relationship between effective alliance operating models and alliance outcomes. She talked about how focusing efforts on minimizing duplication of work, enhancing onboarding efforts, and driving fit-for-purpose communication protocols can result in a 40% improvement in both goal achievement and team satisfaction. Read our whitepaper, The Fundamentals are Golden: The Value of Fine-tuning Alliance Operating Models to learn more about this relationship between effective operating models and outcomes.

Albert Memorial Hyde Park London

The Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, London

This is but a brief snapshot of the very informative sessions that kept conference participants in their seats and asking questions throughout the conference.

While London’s weather was conducive to keeping people inside, focused on learning and networking, the sun came out after the conference, allowing Jan a great walk through Hyde Park to clear her mind to get ready for the Biopharma Conference in our hometown in November. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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