"The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.”[i]
Much could be said about our changing world—economic volatility, political and civil unrest, epic levels of national debt, corrupt governments and the impact of new technologies on the labor market.
While not exclusively, there is no doubt that the online world has also pushed many organizations into markets they never intended to be in, but now find themselves under pressure to respond to. Donald DePalma calls this, ‘The Eighth Continent.’[ii]
Many leaders, however, have been caught unprepared and untrained for such severe business scenarios, which often leads them to search for strategic partners who carry expertise in areas where they are weaker.
They are looking for synergistic or complementary relationships where the value chain can be strengthened. However, when expanding across geographical boundaries, leaders must think very carefully about their strategy and the implications of extending their operational ability into emerging markets they are not familiar with. Strategic alliances rise and fall, often on seemingly harmless differences.
Some organizations claim to be global merely because they operate across geographic boundaries, but as Manfred Kets De Vries points out, their decision-making hierarchy, authority and power continue to be centralized locally.
While organizations must have ‘culturally competent leaders’, De Vries highlights the importance of organizational qualities to increase chances of success in a global marketplace. He recommends organizations rate themselves on the following statements:
It is a good idea for leaders and organizations to develop some criteria to help them assess the value and nature of the partnerships they are looking for as they seek relevance and sustainability. In addition to the questions above, it’s healthy to clarify the following –
The world has changed. The value of partnerships has not.
[i] French Poet, Paul Valery (1871-1945).
[ii] DePalma, Donald A. Business Without Borders: A Strategic Guide to Global Marketing. Massachusetts: Globa Vista Press, 2004. xi.
[iii] De Vries, Manfred, Kets. The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall, 2006, 186.