Today’s New York Times headline reads, “Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization – Cheap oil, the lubricant of inexpensive transportation links, may not return soon, upsetting the logic of diffuse global supply chains”. In a number of other recent articles I am reminded that the demand for food in certain parts of the world is impacted prices here at home. That the price we are paying for gas is impacted as much by the subsidies of oil in third world countries as anything we are doing within the confines of our own borders.
Can anyone really continue to believe that we are completely and independently in control of our own destiny? That we can unilaterally make decisions independent of what happens in other countries, or that the United States is the single superpower that can dictate to the rest of the world?
And what about the business we lead? How many times do you as a CEO or organizational leader attempt to make decisions independent of the rest of the “world ecosystem” within which you operate. Whether that be the other departments within you organization, if you are a functional manager, or those entities you think of as you competitors if you are the CEO.
I remember working with a client leading them through a strategic planning session. We had accurately assessed their strengths and weaknesses, we laid out the threats and opportunities in the marketplace and looked and the forces at p lay within their general environment. And the strategy that was developed would launch them into becoming one of the market leaders. It was exciting and doable.
I then split the management team into two groups, each representing one of their two major competitors. I then assigned them the task of developing the strategic plan for the competition as if they were the leadership team of that company.
They walked away with a whole new appreciation for how the marketplace was much more dynamic and organic. Dynamic in the forces that could impact their success and organic in the way it was more inter-connected than they had realized.
It is easy to think of our organization, or our country, as if we are the only ones changing and the rest of the world, or marketplace, will remain static. Perhaps at one time, when the time dimension of change was measured in decades and the space dimension of connections and communications were measured in miles, we could operate that way. Today however, we are reminded everyday that our world no longer fits this simple paradigm. We as leaders must expand our horizon and integrate much more in our vision, our strategy, our positions and our daily decisions.