Wednesday, May 23, 2007


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Dear Friends:

Two cliches come immediately to mind. The first one, "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it," is axiomatic. The second one, which is somewhat more obscure (likely because I invented it myself at dinner last evening), but equally powerful in its gravitas and significance, is "Those who fail to acknowledge and adapt to change are doomed to become fossils." While I have an appreciation for nostalgia, I understand that it is merely a celebration of the past, an embracing of pleasant memories, and a diversion from the stress associated with the accelerating rate of change in a high-technology, increasingly global society. It is not, however a way to conduct business.

It takes courage to face a rapidly-changing geopolitical and economic landscape. If you are to survive as a business, you must have the courage to lead, and you cannot effectively charge ahead with your head turned behind you.

I have listed several attributes which I believe will be essential to any organization whose leadership and stakeholders are serious about thriving in the new economy. How many of them characterize your philosophy and strategy?

  1. You must scan international markets as well as domestic markets for sources of products and services, as well as for new customers;

  2. You must have a presence on the internet, and you must constantly update and upgrade your company's information -- prospective customers and co-venturers are increasingly "turned off" to low-cost, outdated website material. It indicates that you either don't take pride in your appearance, that you are not "state-of-the-art", or that you do not conduct sufficient business to warrant the relatively small expenditure required to make a good appearance. By way of example, I no longer wear my cherished polyester leisure suits to social gatherings;

  3. You must constantly network within your industry and outside of your industry. The Internet has made the development of new international relationships and continuing dialogue very simple, and irresistibly inexpensive. A trusted business acquaintance recently told me that he used to spend one day out of his six-day business week networking -- now he spends three days weekly networking;

  4. You must maintain a good dialogue with your competitors, to the greatest extent reasonably possible. You can learn from them without poaching their customer base. In fact, collusion, consolidation and co-venturing are becoming more the norm than old-school ("Art Of War") hostile competition. It simply makes more economic sense in terms of eliminating expense redundances, and leveraging resources;

  5. You must aggressively incorporate customer and vendor feedback in every aspect of your business. Whether this is done through blogs, wikis, surveys, or through some other communications medium, it must be obvious to customers and vendors that they have a say in your business, and that you are paying attention to them. Customers and vendors are easier to retain if they feel a sense of authorship and ownership in your company. Pride and a sense of belonging are basic human needs that are being increasingly exploited by enterprising and progressive organizations.

  6. Your business must be open every hour of every day, ready to process orders and provide support services. Whether it is by email autoresponder, telephone helpdesk, emergency voicemail does not matter. If your lights are out, your customers will simply find one of your competitors whose lights are on;

  7. Co-venture with local partners (even if the co-venture is merely via computer weblink) in each of the other countries in which you are doing business. They are valuable sensory organs, as well as as source of comfort and support for your international customers.

  8. Be prepared to use the services of interpreters and translation services to honor your customers and make them feel accommodated.

  9. Your computer search engine rankings are critical "evidence" (spurious or otherwise) or your size, stability and success. You will eventually need to retain the services of a high-quality SEO (Search Engine Optimization expert).

  10. You must differentiate yourself from the myriad of competitors who are likely to invade your market. Remember: with the advent of the Internet, and with cyberspace rapidly supplanting real estate, there are fewer physical and financial barriers to entry into virtually every industry. Your competition is watching you and learning from you. You must do the same.

The challenge of accelerating change is not to be taken likely. Futurism is no longer an intellectual sport of highbrow conjecture -- it is an integral daily activity for the sustenance and growth of every business. No exceptions.


Douglas Castle, Internationalist

1 comment:

  1. Terrific post Doug! I wholeheartedly agree with what you're saying.



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