Friday, 16 December 2011

To EU, or not to EU, that is not really the question

I’ve been reflecting on the challenges ahead for one of the most critical and complex partnerships the world has seen; the European Union. 

The UK’s decision to prevent a re-drawing of the European Treaty through use of a veto was perhaps not a surprise. Perhaps the greater surprise was the lack of other countries ready to express their concerns. Time will tell if others that remain party to the inter-governmental agreement  currently under development will be able to remain party to it. Already there seem to be cracks appearing between the Eurozone and Non-Eurozone countries along the lines that prevented the UK from signing up.

But as a case study of partnership working, the events over the past week or so are really interesting. Here’s my take, in the context of the collaboration cycle.


Accusations have been made that the UK delegation at the summit did not engage enough with colleagues in France and Germany, particularly. So perhaps David Cameron was at fault and hadn’t done enough connecting for this important summit. 

Having said that, Cameron did meet with Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. It’s difficult to believe the British PM did not express his concerns about a new deal then. If he didn’t, then he fell at the first hurdle. Establishing wants and offers at the connecting stage can be a vital action in smoothing any future outcome.


The fact that there was such apparent surprise at the UK position was in itself a surprise. Much of the blame for the lack of a contract with which to move forward involving all EU states, has been directed at David Cameron. (It’s interesting to note that Labour and Lib Dem politicians haven’t really come up with an alternative other than “we would have talked more.”)

Given the UK’s position in the EU and the significance of financial services to the UK economy, the question has to be asked of France and Germany, why they didn’t pose the questions to their UK partner. It’s not as if both countries have never focused on their own interests before that of their European partners! Perhaps this also goes back to their connecting with David Cameron; perhaps they could have done more too.

We know that contracting is a continuous process, and an initial agreement was made on the actions necessary to begin the process of creating a framework for those countries inside and outside the Eurozone to work together on the financial issues. That agreement still has to be ratified in a number of national parliaments and could give rise to further re-contracting.

So we sort of have an initial contract that is really about working out what the final contract should be for some of the partners.


Well, one thing that happened in the collaborating phase was that the UK and the rest agreed not to collaborate; at least on the issue being discussed at the summit. 

Of course, good partnership practice says we can both compete and partner with the same stakeholder. In any case, the UK – as the German Chancellor has stated - remains a significant player in all other aspects of the EU, and therefore collaboration continues.

It is also interesting to note the role that the UK will play in the ongoing financial framework discussions; an “observer” role. One could argue that the UK was now well placed to provide brokering support to the ongoing discussions. But, politics will, I’m sure, prevent that from happening.


Normally, one would expect a review now: lessons learned, what can we do next, and indeed, we have already seen this happen at a multi-national level and certainly within the UK parliament. And there remains little doubt that rightly, the UK will continue to engage with its European partners across a range of critical issues.

*      *      *      *      *

Partnership working is hard work, and what we have witnessed is the impact of tension within two key partnerships; the European Union and UK Coalition Government. This situation certainly looks to be the biggest test for the EU to date; at least until the next biggest test!

One thing is for sure, the reality of joint working is plain for all to see; at the national and European level. We can work more closely with our partners on one issue than on others. And on some, we will compete. But holding the tension between these situations and enhancing its creative energy is, and will continue to be critical for the partnership’s ongoing success.

Friday, 25 November 2011

When is a Partnership Development Manager not a Partnership Development Manager?

It’s funny, I noticed a recruitment ad for a Partnership Development Manager and I thought, I wonder what the job looks like; what activities will the successful candidate be expected to undertake? What capabilities will the employer be looking for?

So I looked into the detail.

It started quite well: “Your overall objective will be the delivery of profitable growth of Corporate Partnerships through the acquisition and implementation of new business within the Financial Services sector.”

There were some high level specifics which all looked consistent with my understanding of what a Partnership role should entail, but then it started to take a familiar turn. 

It described targets (my words) as “prospects” and talked about an expectation that the role would “develop and deliver pitch presentations and manage tender responses.”

Hhmmm! It's beginning to sound like Account Management or Business Development. I read on.

“You`ll be an experienced strategic sales professional seeking the next step in your career with a market leader in their set. You`ll have a demonstrable track record in new business development with a track record of securing major new business wins from targeting to closure.”

Ah! They came clean – it’s about developing new business not necessarily partnerships.

They are looking for good market technical knowledge, good stakeholder insight, “outstanding relationship management skills and proven track record at negotiating complex programmes at a senior level,” and, “a professional business developer in a sophisticated B2B environment.”

Funny, no mention of developing business to the mutual benefit of own and client organisation and the consumer. No indication that someone to be called Partnership Development Manager had experience of developing, co-creating and leading partnership work.

OK, it’s a bit of a hobby horse of mine; but I do wish business would differentiate business development and account management from partnership working because they are not the same.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Looking forward to next week's KAM Summit

I’m looking forward to next week’s KAM Summit with Eyeforpharma. It’s a great opportunity to network as well as catch up with what’s going on in the KAM arena.  

My interest is particularly in the collaborative working aspects of KAM; how that manifests itself back into the (pharma) organisation, because my sense is that is where many of the challenges lie for the industry.

I’m also interested in listening to what’s different and what hasn’t changed. And, I’ll be fascinated to see if there are some signals that organisations – or more realistically perhaps some individuals – are looking at to consider future implications for KAM, as certain drivers become more or less impactful or uncertain. 

For me, economics, consumerism, the commissioning and provider landscapes look to be near to mid-term game changers, based on my futures work. 

Issues such as longevity, demographic change and supporting, diagnosis and treatment technology become relatively more significant the further into the future one looks. All of these issues will undoubtedly impact upon commissioners and providers and change the way they perceive value provided by their suppliers, including what we see now as the pharmaceutical industry.

Perhaps all that seems a long way into the future; and for operationally focused market affiliate organisations, it probably is. But I would argue that those companies considering these issues now; making informed choices about the near, mid and long term futures for their organisations and the conversations they have with the stakeholders, will increase their chances of success.

To find out more about my own futures work into healthcare or enquire about consulting support and training in partnership development and collaborative working , please complete the contact form or see me at the conference!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Another Roundtable discussion: What are the drivers and hurdles for the development of KAM in the future?

I enjoy working with the folks at Eyeforpharma, and that’s why I’m facilitating another Roundtable Discussion at the Key Account ManagementEurope Summit later this month. The whole summit takes place between the 21st and 23rd with the Roundtables on 23rd.  I generally find the Eyeforpharma events very interesting and the programme for this one looks no different.

The issue of KAM is interesting to me because of the more collaborative nature of the relationships that need to exist between the seller and the buyer; and because of the sense of fashion I get about the pharma industry’s use of the approach. I believe there are a set of competences and capabilities required that are not necessarily met by successful sales reps; strategic thinking, consulting, for example.

With a depreciative hat on, one might say that the industry has not got KAM right; it's not FMCG, after all. Customers and other stakeholders might not want it.  The imperative for collaboration between industry and NHS is largely accommodated within account management teams, but do the functions of selling and partnering sit comfortably enough together? In the same role / person?

On the other hand, an appreciative perspective might be that the significant change in how the industry  is seeking to do business with the NHS was always going to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and the changing face of pharma sales and collaborative working has in reality come on quite a way in a short period of time. 

Time will tell how the KAM implementation is / was regarded by NHS stakeholders.
So the overarching question I'm posing is: What are the drivers and hurdles for the development of KAM in the future?

There are lots of supporting questions – in part based on my Healthcare Systems Futures work - but here are a few I'll use to stimulate discussion and debate:
  • How might KAM evolve between NHS providers & commissioners?
  • Who will be your Key Accounts in the future?
  • What are the predictors of in how KAM might evolve in pharma?
  • Why is KAM so essential to pharma?
  • How will we recognise the right form of KAM?
  • How has our KAM working practice evolved within our organisations and how do we expect it to continue to evolve?
  • What room will exist in the market place for new healthcare providers and what are the implications for pharma KAM?
  • How will customers and other stakeholders welcome and regard KAM from pharma?
  • What part will health consumerism play in a KAM approach?
If you want to know more about this event, contact Theo Fellgett at eyeforpharma on 0207 3757591 or by email.

To find out more about my own futures work into healthcare or enquire about consulting support and training in partnership development and collaborative working , please complete the contact form or see me at the conference!

Friday, 9 September 2011

What are the drivers for NHS collaboration in the future? A Roundtable discussion

I’m currently preparing to facilitate a Roundtable Discussion at Eyeforpharma’s Engage with the new NHS conference on 27th / 28th September in London. 

The topic of the discussion is: What are the drivers for NHS collaboration in the future?

There are a number of questions – in part based on my Healthcare Systems Futures work that I intend to pose to stimulate debate, including:
  • What are the predictors of how we will collaborate in the future?
  • How will we recognise the right form (depth and breadth) of collaboration?
  • How has our collaborative working practice evolved within our organisations? How do we expect it to continue to evolve?
  • Could cross-public sector collaboration squeeze out the private sector?
  • How does public / private sector joint working support the rise of health consumerism?
  • How might product and service be packaged in support of joint working with the NHS?
  • What role can the private sector play in facilitating the interface between commissioners and providers?
  • What room will there be in the market place for new providers and what are the implications for pharma?
If you want to know more about this event - and Eyeforpharma events are normally very good - contact Mariana Flores Serrano at Eyeforpharma on 0207 375 7190  or by email.

To find out more about my own futures work into healthcare or enquire about consulting support and training in partnership development and collaborative working , please complete the contact form.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Only partnership working will resolve the Libyan crisis for Libyans

It is interesting to observe the current political turmoil across North Africa and the Middle East. Information revolution seems to me to be behind a strengthening desire for freedom of expression and access to (relative) wealth and opportunity.

So what has this got to do with partnership? Well, the situation in Libya is perhaps the most striking example. As a historically tribal society, it would seem that the coming together of tribes opposed to Col Muammar Gaddafi and his tribal and mercenary alliance hold the key to unlocking the door to a free and fair society in Libya.

The tribes and their leaders opposed to the eccentric dictator will have to consider the form of collaboration they want, perhaps based on an assessment of the nature of their goals - are they individual or collective; and the clarity of their goals – are they clear and predictable or are they uncharted and uncertain.

Perhaps the brave protestors in Tripoli, Benghazi and elsewhere are hoping that the tribal leaders’ goals are NOT individual and clear, as a go it alone approach could spell the breakup of the country and even civil war.

The issues are complex; goals (some at least) seem to be collective, and logic suggests they will be uncharted and uncertain, so perhaps the opportunity for the co-creation of a new Libyan state will be the rewards for true partnership. The stakes are that high.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Roundtable Discussion: Partnership working – reality or fallacy?

At last week’s Eyeforpharma KAM Conference in London, I facilitated a roundtable discussion entitled as above.

As ever, I’m fascinated by people’s experiences of collaboration and partnership; and of the pharma industry and NHS’s almost schizophrenic perspective on the issue of partnership. On the face of it, this looks like a criticism, but it’s not.

From the pharma perspective, the whole process of changing the nature of the business interaction with an increasingly diverse stakeholder base is so complex and leads to evolution rather than revolution in approach. The uncertainty and complexity of the situation is faced by an industry that has until recently thrived on certainty and science, and the straight-forward proposition that a clinical effectiveness conversation with a prescriber is the pre-requisite for commercial success.

The NHS continues its struggle to come to terms with pharma as not being all bad. For many in the public sector, working with pharma yields may positives but there are strong conservative perspectives too. Nevertheless, the NHS is one of the most experienced organisations at collaborating – albeit with other public sector bodies – and in working with private sector providers of public health services; for example, GPs and retail pharmacists!

You can learn more about the collaborative working landscape between the pharma industry and the NHS in my report:

To stimulate the discussion at the conference, which was fundamentally about partnership within the context of KAM, I posed five questions:
  • How do you recognise and stimulate collaborative working in your own organisation?
  • How does the organisation support collaborative working with customers?
  • How do KAM and Partnership working relate – or not?
  • What aspects of collaborative working need to improve in your organisation?
  • Why are most of the exemplars of good collaborative working practice the same ones that have been used for a number of years now?
The feedback from the discussions fell into five themes:
  • Organisational commitment to collaboration and partnership working
  • Tension between pharma and NHS
  • Understanding our customers / partners
  • Success factors
  • Capability and competence
Here is the feedback:

If you want to know more, contact me via the contact form on my website.