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Globalization has revolutionized the world of business. It has simultaneously created the imperative for companies to internationalize their competitive strategies and the means to do so.
Companies can and do now shop in a single global supermarket for capital, employees, customers, suppliers, raw materials, and strategic alliance partners.
Of all the potential beneficiaries of globalization, none face more exciting and unprecedented opportunities than small- and medium-sized businesses.
Historically, these firms have lacked the opportunity, the necessity, and especially the wherewithal to attack international markets.
This "Think Global" advice is not intended to imply that all will be sweetness and light in the new "global village." ("Global snake pit" might be more accurate.) Markets will become infinitely more complex, turbulent and far-flung and competitors can come at you from anywhere and at anytime.
Managing global companies across borders, time zones, and cultures calls for a level of talent and subtlety light years beyond what was necessary only a decade ago. Strategy, marketing, logistics, recruitment and training must all be rethought if not reinvented altogether to cope with the new challenges.
International business is not for the faint of heart. The only difference is that as the world evolves, companies now have NO CHOICE!
Seven Tips for Leveraging Global Thinking
- DEVELOP and promote a global psychology. Create a gut realization that international success is no longer the icing on the market cake, it's the cake itself.
- GET good partners. There is simply no substitute for first-rate local knowledge about market opportunities, competitors, talent and emerging government policy.
- TAKE the long view. You're going to need staying power, both financially and psychological. Rome wasn't built in a day, and the Romans were using local talent.
- BECOME an international learning machine. The individuals and companies that will dominate will be those that figure out how to disseminate and leverage knowledge globally.
- STRENGTHEN your corporate culture. Commit the time and resources to ensure that your corporate culture is strong and coherent enough to help guide decisions that must be made quickly and on the spot by local managers.
- BUILD flexibility. Global flexibility must go well beyond tailoring goods and services to local markets; it must also embrace every aspect of your business, including organizational structures, policies, and practices.
- REMEMBER that all solutions are temporary. Accept that the world is moving too fast and too unexpectedly for any solution to endure. The best approach is to expect a constant cycle of self-examination, learning, adjustment, and improvement.
Make no mistake: Globalization will require the reinvention of a good chunk of your company's innovation infrastructure and intellectual capital base, from corporate culture to strategic alliance strategies to human resource development. But the effort will prove well worth it.
At a minimum, strengthening your company's global infrastructure will at least allow the firm to stay in the next round. And if it can be done superbly, it can itself become a major source of actual competitive advantage.
Here's the best part about thinking and operating globally, you don't have to be big to play and win—technology has seen to that.
So what's holding you back? Think global or else!
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