Inspired by recent posts on wolrdsourcing I thought I should put my thoughts into a blog post. No matter how much globalisation affects cultures and economies, the world remains a diverse place. What happens in terms of economy is a consequence of global, regional and local events and decision making. Today financial transactions can happen 24/7 and take effect across the globe in just milliseconds; thus a market plummeting in Taiwan can be felt hardly in London and New York. Yet, individual countries can still act against the main global economy trend and boost amidst global crisis (or crash in times of world-wide bonanza).
As a consequence the world as a market place is a challenging playground for those interested in making the most out of it. Moreover, as with everything else today, times have accelerated, and crisis and booms come and go in just a couple of years (particularly in, -dare I say it?- third world countries). I shall use an example I'm familiar with. In December 2001 Argentina defaulted, basically the country was in bankruptcy, all foreign debt payments ceased, civil unrest was in the air, looting and chaos all around. 5 presidents came and left in around a month. Not exactly what you would call auspicious times.
Yet by the end of 2002, and more clearly in 2003 things started to improve. The economy boosted, unemployment has decreased now to 1 digit for the first time in over 14 years.
As good and as "robust" as the economy might appear (according to some inddicators like productivity and unemployment), it is still very fragile, the ghost of hyperinflation flies like a vulture above a corpse, and recent political events don't help out stabilizing things. As a result things could go astray any time now.
If I'm right this would have been a 6 year cycle from bottom to top. It was only within the last two years that a decent percentage of the population recovered some real buying power. This is, by no means, a long period of time. The challenge, thus, is: how can companies take advantage of such booms, and save themselves from catastrophic crises.
Picture it as a giant whac-a-mole game where each country is one of the holes. The key thing is to know (or to intuit) when things are going to surface, and then react accordingly and quickly. It is no easy task.
For starters a great understanding of all actors that influence a particular country or region's economy is required. Things spanning from natural disasters to political shifts going through macro-economic influences come into play. No one could ever come up with the complete list of things influencing over the overall economic state; it is just too complex. Yet, being able to identify the key players effectively should suffice.
But having an understanding of the game is just half the work (or less). The most important thing is to have both the resources and the willingness to act in response to the events. This could be a 3-part process:
- Evaluation: What kind of revenue could be expected. Would that revenue be enough to cover the costs and risks. What are those risks. What is the expected time-frame of the economic boom. Where to focus. What to avoid.
- Action: Disembark a sort of sales and marketing "commando" task force. Build the needed teams with both the team and local people with deep knowledge on the details that make each country and/or region unique. Built with the knowledge from step 1 the picture should be crystal clear when the first action is launched. Act fast, act quickly, act aggressively. When timing is the prime issue warm is not enough. The game is not for the feeble hearted.
- Departure: This could happen in one of numerous ways. On the best case scenario the aggressive campaigning and sales would of built enough awareness to sustain a brand or company through the rough times. On the worst case scenario total departure might be the only reasonable thing. Once again, a deep evaluation of the situation is needed. If a depression or a plateau is foreseen, what kind of loss or diminished margins are to be expected. How long will it last. What will come next.
If only doing so would be as easy as writing it down. For starters most companies and managers are naturally reluctant to play in games that represent such high risks. The inertia to change nothing is a break on way too many places (from Marriages to Companies) for us not to be aware of it (note to self: write a post on "inertia to change nothing").
Another issue is to have the structure to pull this kind of stuff. IT, accounting, marketing, sales, supply chain, legal riff-raff, all of them -and more- delivered and put to play in record time. It could be hell. That is where a highly trained set of professionals could make all the difference. The "commando" force should have the ability (and management support) to make quick decisions. If you have no such people and ability don't even try.
In a world where on planning meetings the word "years" is barely ever used, where "quarters" seem like 3 months too long and things need to happen swift, such approaches seem to be the way.
The risks are high, but the price might be worth it. Besides there are other positive side effects that might be worth exploring. The opportunity is out there for the taking.
Image credit: wastrel
Maybe some of you have been wondering why I haven't been posting much lately. There is a perfectly good reason for it; I've been overloaded with things, mainly work (but personal too).
The reason for this is that I'm changing positions shortly, and I have to transition from place A to place B as smoothly as possible. Before you ask: this is all within Lenovo.
With some luck the 8AM to 11PM workdays will end up soon, and I'll have more free time to write a bunch of stuff. I have several replies to some excellent posts Mark has been putting up; I want to expand my Apache Central pages, I have some posts on Marketing, Social Networks, transparency and Web 2.0 (bubble 2.0) and other stuff that I have to put into written form.
Besides, my "mysterious" new position (I won't say much about it until it is fully effective) shall prove to be a source of inspiration for this humble blog.
Thus here's my statement on this blog: I have not retreated, I'm just making ground to gain more impulse.
At work, the expression "on the pipeline" exists for a reason. I can't think of better analogies for a team than a pipe.
Special pipes, for sure, but pipes nonetheless. Ideas get in from an end, they become projects, they shape up and, with some luck, they become realizations when exiting on the other end.
As with any plumbing system, taking good care and providing maintenance is fundamental to keep things flowing (literally). Else things start to go wrong, leaks appear, clots prevent the normal flow.
Then there's pressure. Pipes have a designed stress level, they can handle a certain flow with some ease. On given moments they can handle more, but if such high stress is sustained things can get ugly. On the other end, if the flow is too low fouling can build up and the top and normal flow levels decrease. Unfortunately only aggressive methods can clean up fouling.
Keeping the plumbing pristine is not an easy task. It requires time and expertise. If the maintenance is done carelessly and without experience things are bound to get ugly. The pipes themselves have a key role as well, some are easier to maintain than others, some are more resistant or more flexible or can handle stress better than others. Finally cheap plumbing might sound like a saving at starters, yet on the long run chances are that the costs in repairs and to keep it flowing will be higher.
How do you take care of plumbing? what sort of pipes do you install?
Heavily hit with Bus Lag (which is like Jet lug but ten times slower) and with only a couple of hors sleep, I'm now reporting from Junin.
After a Churbuckean trip (you know, answering emails while on the move, bombarding everybody out with the first synchronization upon arrival; which would of been worst if the light my T60p shed wouldn't of bugged my half-asleep wife sitting by me on the bus) I'm about to wrap a very busy week.
Although work has been crazy, things are starting to look brighter and brighter (I can't say much, will do on the future, I promise). After 6 very grim months, filled mainly with boredom and uncertainty I'm looking forward to stick my head out of the trenches and explore the world. Literally.
And that is exactly what I've been doing. For several ideas going on around, I have been out in the wild testing and reading about solutions that are out there for the masses to take. It is amazing to see how many different people devote quite a fair amount of their time to come up with solutions made available to others for free.
This investigations demand some time. My process usually is read a lot (on the project sites, then search for refferences or testimonials elsewhere), then install (either on one of my two local LAMP "servers" -one is an R50e with Ubuntu Desktop, the other a Desktop with Ubuntu server edition-) try things out, write my own conclusions. It is time consuming but fun.
Hold tight, I'll post some more stuff on this as I go by (but wait patiently I don't think this will happen for at least a month).