Reading 1-2 Managing in a Borderless World
Most managers are nearsighted. Even though today’s competitive landscape often stretches to a global horizon, they see best what they know best: the customers geographically closest to home. They may have factories or laboratories in a dozen countries and joint ventures in a dozen more. They may source materials and sell in market all over the world, but their field of vision is dominated by home-country customers and the organizational units that serve them. Everyone and everything else is simply part of “the rest of the world.”
This nearsightedness is not intentional. No manager purposefully plans or implements an astigmatic strategy. But few managers consciously try to set plans and build organizations as if they saw all key customers equidistant from the corporate center. Whatever the trade figures show, home markets are usually in focus and overseas market are not.
Effective global operations require a genuine equidistance of perspective. But even with the best will in the world, managers find the kind of vision hard to develop. And harder to maintain.
It may be unfamiliar and awkward, but the primary rule of equidistance is to SEE and THINK global first.
If you have a manufacturing divisions in Japan, North America and Europe – all three legs of the Triad – your managers do not think or act as if the company were divided between home country and overseas operations. The word overseas has no place in the vocabulary of the company because the corporation sees itself as equidistant from all key-customer. You top managers should gather information directly from each of their – primary market and then sit down together to develop a revised plan for global product development.
There is no single best way to avoid overcome nearsightedness. An equidistant perspective can take many forms. However manager do it, however they get there, building a value system that emphasizes seeing and thinking globally is the bottom-line price if admission to today’s borderless economy.
A Geography Without Border
On political map, the boundaries between countries are as clear as ever. But on a competitive map, a map showing the real flows of financial and industrial activity, those boundaries have largely disappeared. What has eaten them away is the persistent, speedier flow of information. Information that government previously monopolized, their monopoly of knowledge about thing happening around the world enabled them to mislead or control the people, because only the government possessed the real facts in anything.
Today, people everywhere can easily get information they want directly from all corner of the world. They can see for themselves what the tastes, preferences are in other countries, the styles of clothing now in fashion, the sports and the lifestyles. In the past, there were gross inefficiencies in the flow of information around the world, some purposeful, some not. New technologies are eliminating those inefficiencies.
Through this flow of information, we’ve become global citizens, and so must the companies that want to sell us things or products.
More than that, we are all coming to share it in a common language – English. This is a momentous change. We can talk to each other now, understand each other, and governments cannot stop us. “Global citizenship” is no longer just a nice phrase in the lexicon of rosy futurologists. It is every bit as a real and concrete as measurable changes in GNP or trade flows. It is actually coming to pass.
The same is true for corporations. In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, the critical activities of drug discovery, screening, and testing are now virtually the same among the best companies everywhere in the world. Scientist can move from one laboratory to another and start working the next day with few hesitations or problems. They will find equipment they have used before,...
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