3 Ways Leaders Can Pioneer Effective Change Management

Effective Change

There are two types of leaders: Those who lead from the back, and those who lead from the front.

You can tell these two types of leaders apart when market changes happen and shake their business’s foundations to the core.

Different Types of Leaders

While the leaders who dictate from the back sit in their offices pulling their hair out and cursing under their breath, the leaders in front are those who are completely involved, confronting issues as they surface.

More than anything, front-end leaders have their whole team behind them, while the cowering leaders’ teams are abandoning ship.

In the fast-paced business world, it’s not a matter of if, but when, change will come to your business. If you can derive positive outcomes out of uncertain or volatile situations, you’ll come out on top. The key is staying laser-focused on industry trends.

Contextual Knowledge Is Key to a Sustainable Business

No matter what industry you’re in, reading the market is paramount to your success. Being unaware of your surroundings will severely jeopardize your leadership position and the health of your company.

Remember Pets.com? It was a great idea, but it failed because it tried to grow too fast. Rather than taking the market’s temperature and developing a product accordingly, the company created its product in a vacuum and tasked its marketers with finding a market.

Effective Change Management

Effective change management requires heavy listening, inclusiveness, emotional intelligence, and a common purpose. Understanding the context and being able to read the winds, the currents, and the tides are musts for piloting a sailboat.

Simply cleaning the sails is not enough. But the benefits are invaluable.

Not only will your business remain dynamic in a competitive marketplace, but it will also attract new customers and preserve current relationships.

Nike is a great example of a company that used market knowledge to develop a successful product. In 2006, the iPod was massively popular, and Nike wanted in. It teamed up with Apple to launch Nike+, a digital sports kit that included a shoe sensor and a wireless receiver for users’ iPods. Since then, Nike has sold more than 2.5 million kits.

3 Keys to Effective Change

Use Trends to Bring About the Change Your Business Needs

If you want to create effective change management, you have to harness business trends. Here are three ways smart, effective leaders can do that:

1. Get Involved in Your Industry and Spark Ideas

There’s a good chance your industry has a vocational organization behind it, whether you’re a union pipe fitter or an artisan cheesemonger. The people in these groups are the key to your success, and the networks and friendships you gain through them are priceless. Associations work hard to keep members aware of industry-wide changes, so take advantage of their expertise.

Make a point to engage with colleagues, partners, and clients about trends in their businesses.

These conversations are sure to spark ideas in the minds of prospective clients and employees. Human beings respond to calls to action that engage their hearts as well as their minds, making them feel as if they’re a part of something consequential.

2. Monitor Everything About Your Business

If you’re not keeping a close eye on your business with tools like financial projections and business dashboards, you’re missing out. Tracking trends helps you predict potential problems and opportunities.

Don’t just think about statistics in your own business, either. Government agencies compile mountains of statistics that can help you pinpoint trends among demographic groups, regions, industries, and more.

Your change — or lack thereof — is important to your employees, too. They need to know how crucial successful change is to your company. Ensuring that people’s daily behaviors reflect the imperative of change is vital to the success of any change initiative.

3. Get Outside — and Outside Yourself

When things get hectic at work, go for a walk. It might not help your business immediately, but it will help you clear your thoughts. And while you’re out and about, take a peek at your competitors down the street.

You can learn a lot about yourself by monitoring your competition. Ask yourself: What new products or services are they offering, and are they targeting new audiences and expanding?

You can learn even more about your business by getting outside your own industry. Read news from Japan and Germany. What are the latest developments in the bicycle industry? What about the fire safety industry? Learning about trends in other worlds will spark new ideas for your own.

When you think outside yourself, you get a better handle on how your team functions and what they can improve upon. Oftentimes, leaders are so eager to claim victory that they don’t take the time to figure out what’s working — and what’s not — and come up with next steps.

When you fail to follow through, you’re being inconsistent and withholding the information your employees need to grow and change.

Change Is Coming

Leaders need to be aware of upcoming change in their businesses, in their industries, and in their employees. There’s no way of doing this that doesn’t involve being aware of yourself, your company, your industry, and the world around you.

Smart change management leaders are tuned in to their employees and their industries. Don’t succumb to cowering in your office when the going gets tough. Be the effective, change-embracing leader your employees need and deserve.

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———————
Luis Gallardo

Luis Gallardo is CEO of Thinking Heads Americas
He’s an award-winning author and holds an MBA from IMD in Switzerland
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On Leadership, Visionaries and Entrepreneurship: Henry Ford

Henry FordHenry Ford is considered one of America’s foremost industrialist who shaped and influenced the entire globe. His leadership forged so many aspects of everyday life, that it is hard to image a world without his impact.

Innovators and entrepreneurs like Henry Ford rarely come along in anyone’s lifetime!

On Vision, Grit, and Execution

The unique vision he had, combined with the ability and knowledge to make his dreams happen are what set him apart from other inventors.

Henry Ford had a vision of vehicles that could be made not only for the wealthiest people, but for everyone.

He envisioned new processes to create vehicles that would speed up the auto making process and make vehicles affordable for many. Ford had a dream that the automobile, once it was mass-produced and owned by many people, would become a useful tool to advance society.

He helped implement techniques like assembly lines that made automobile manufacturing a faster and more economical undertaking. This allowed automobile pricing to go down to the point where many people could afford to buy and drive cars.

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A Comprehensive Outlook

One of Henry Ford’s other visions was of gas stations, which would make it convenient for new automobile owners to get the fuel they needed quickly and cheaply.

He was also instrumental in seeing that roads were well made and that enough roads would be created to give people good, viable pathways to use their automobiles.

A Global Visionary Leader

He also had visions of selling automobiles that were made by Ford to other countries, helping other economies to advance as well.The Ford Motor Company, founded in 1903, soon became an international company.

In Henry Ford‘s most productive and visionary years, the company expanded to over 30 countries around the globe.

They included Europe, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia and China. Ford was not only competitive with many other auto makers, they often exceeded competitors in sales and innovation.

A Competitive Leader

As new innovations came along in assembly lines and the creation of auto parts within the factory became a common event, the prices of automobiles came down to the point where many people could afford them. Workers were not paid well in the beginning, but that soon changed when Ford saw a need to pay them more to keep workers and avoid high turnover.

The workers’ salaries were increased to five dollars a day, which was a generous salary for the times.

Workers stayed and became more productive than workers at other automobile factories who were not as well compensated. Other automobile manufacturers were forced to step up their game and do many of the things that Ford Motor Company was doing just to stay competitive within the industry.

Technology also changed and other automobile manufacturers had to change along with Ford. If changes were not made within competing companies, they would find that their automobiles would soon become obsolete.

New looks for automobiles began to emerge and cars had to change in order to attract customers. Customers wanted the newest and cutting edge technology and were willing to pay for it.

A Creative Leader

The ways that people used to pay for their new cars also had to become competitive to attract and keep customers loyal to a brand. Car loan programs began and over time, customers were given longer lengths of time to pay back their loans.

Once customers found they could also refinance car loans to a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment, they were hooked.

The easier it became to buy cars, the more cars could be sold to consumers. When customers had a taste of owning a vehicle, they kept coming back. Creative financing can be a key part of successful automobile sales.

A Charismatic Leader

Henry Ford’s influence went beyond automobile manufacturing and sales. He had many interests. For a time during the war, the company delved into aviation. They also explored creating and building technologically advanced military vehicles.

Henry Ford had a unique vision of his place in the world. He lived life with very few limits. This is something others have admired and emulated.

So, if you are not a naturally born visionary leader like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs, what can you do to expand your creative vision right where you are to get better results with the people who you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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Image Sources: autolife.umd.umich.edu

Adaptive Intelligence: Your Organization’s Cultural Operating System

 

Chamelion

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Civilization needs a new operating system.” ~Paul Hawken

Pressure Test

Here is a quick test to help you understand both emotional and analytical thinking.

What do you normally do when your computer has a glitch and that box pops up inviting you to “report the problem?

  • Do you hit the “yes” button and dutifully wait for the computer to do its analysis and send the message?
  • Or do you hit “no” knowing this issue will rear its ugly head again soon?

There’s complex emotional and analytic thinking behind this decision that is analogous to dealing with annoyances in our working lives.

For example, if you hit “no” you’re deciding that although annoying its a small distraction compared with the important task at hand. However, if you’ll need to follow the same procedure and get the same bug you’re more likely to hit “yes”. You might also consider this to be the software provider’s responsibility; “why should I do their job for them.

(Mind you if everyone hit “no” the consequence of this global “e-silence” is the bug never gets fixed…)

We have the same basic choices with our problems at work. Do we do something about them or put up with it stoically? If enough people fail to report the problem it festers creating an invisible block to personal and organisational effectiveness, competitiveness and eventually achievement.

Sharing Important Information

The power and impact of sharing information was described eloquently by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his TED Talk. - The military case for sharing knowledge.

Sharing is power” ~Gen. Stanley McChrystal

All organisations have limited human, financial and physical resources and must prioritise. For a problem to get over their attention threshold and trigger a response, a certain number of “complaints” must be received.

Managers decide how urgent/big the problem is and determine a response. In other words every user has 100% responsibility over error reporting and the organisation has 100% responsibility for its response.

This is a classical trust-based dynamic relationship.

When it’s working really well, a cultural operating system grows stronger iteratively from the power its crowd feeding back.

A Cultural Operating System

Microsoft’s Windows OS and Apple’s Mac OS are akin to a command and control-based management system where the end-user/staff has modest input.

Whereas, Linux, the epitome of an iterative open source process, is similar to a flat organisational system.

How would an iterative cultural operating system based on the concept of Adaptive Intelligence underpin effectiveness and success?

In “The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky describe Adaptive Leadership as, “an iterative process involving three key activities:

1) Observing events and patterns around you

2) Interpreting what you observe

3) Designing interventions based on 1 & 2.”

I have added some steps to include:

4) Observation of the effects of interventions

5) Flexing interventions to give optimal positive results (Fig. 1).

Fig.1. A dynamic adaptive positive feedback cycle

AI Fig 1

 

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive Intelligence (AQ) is the dynamic expression of our Analytical Intelligence (AQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Positive Intelligence (PQ = internal motivation).

The exact flavour of AQ we deploy needs to be flexed to fit any given changing situation we experience. Operating from imbalanced IQ, EQ or PQ creates inappropriate responses based on habit.

If you want to use more of your AQ become more authentically aware of yourself and others.

Organisations need to develop deeper and broader corporate self-awareness. As a first step you might invite everyone to hit the social equivalent of the “yes” button whenever they observe problems or they have potentially good idea. This virtuous process relies on everyone believing they have influence, will be heard and their input valued and acted on.

This resonates with our software analogy nicely (Figure 2.).

Fig. 2 Comparison of computing and organisational operating systems.

AI Fig 2

Enhanced AQ

Enhanced AQ is delivered by:

  • Raising individual and organisational awareness
  • Transparent communication
  • Authentic trust
  • Objective measurable action.

It is powered by curiosity and authentic feedback and founded on 100% personal responsibility.

Stifled AQ

Poorly functioning AQ-based cultural operating systems are recognised from symptoms including:

  • Poor recruitment
  • High staff turnover
  • Conflict
  • Absenteeism
  • Poor staff engagement
  • Missed opportunities/deadlines
  • Inability to create trends and compete effectively

Long lasting symptomatic improvement comes from paying persistent attention to your cultural operating system (AQ). You keep a healthy AQ system going by constant vigilance, bug fixes (e.g. removing stupid rules), cultural upgrades (e.g. wellbeing-based cultures) and inviting everyone to be more curious about their daily working lives (See – How To Use Your Daily Story As A Powerful Seminar For Achievement).

The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience.” ~Unknown

Flexible Open System

An adaptive iterative cultural process equips leaders with high quality dynamic information as well as the authentic human perceptions which create exciting visions and sustain meaningful change.

Thoughts for today

  • How often do you look under the hood of your organisation’s cultural operating system?
  • Notice to what extent your organisation’s culture relies on its corporate hardware (hierarchy, IT, systems & policies) compared with software (culture & people).
  • How much attention and time do you devote to awareness raising efforts for you and your staff?
  • Do you have a flexible open system for all staff to report problems and ideas?
  • Do you have an adaptive iterative cycle (AIC)?
  • How might you incorporate staff feedback and ideas into your AIC drive to improvement?

Recommended reading

The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky

 

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Management vs Innovation: Take Your Pick

I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

On Innovation

Let’s look at innovation. It’s uncertain, difficult to control, diverts staff from tasks and can be expensive and is the antithesis of what tends to drive managers. Don’t get me wrong I understand organisations can’t deliver on their existing commitments without strong and clear management.

However, experience shows us that without new ideas, products, or services companies soon become irrelevant as the market and society marches on.

Remaining Relevant

Consider for a moment if you will some of the big name companies who dominated the end of the 20th Century and are no longer with us. Innovation comes in many guises and although physical inventions tend to dominate our impression of what innovation consists some of the most important innovations are in the way we do things not just the products we make.

Whist you might be sleepwalking to perfecting your management system others are wide-awake innovating – check out The Idea Connection to see what is happening out there.

Even though every leader and every company knows they must keep moving forward and support innovation even the best can end up doing a poor job of supporting it. We blame “bad luck”, ”the R&D team wasn’t strong enough” or even “government intervention”.

Remaining In Control

However, we should look closer to home for addressable levers we can control directly. Often it’s the very managerial culture we have created which interferes with innovation the most. When management system are perfect companies enlarge but when they companies innovate they grow, adapt and thrive in a changing business environment. The effect is continued resilience and profitability in a volatile world..

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” ~Peter Drucker

Essentially management is all about maintaining the status quo by enforcing budget control, time efficiency and certainty. They want immediate quantifiable results they can present to the board.

Not So SMART

This behaviour is encouraged by creating limited SMART objectives rewarded by incentives. When you throw into the mix the uncertainty of a creative process which needs time and money, managers start to sweat and find ways to prevent their reports from contributing; unless it’s in their spare time. Managers will say they believe in and want innovation, but their immediate concerns prevent them backing it up with concrete resources.

As shown by Johan Fuller and his University of Innsbruck team, a major inhibitor of innovation comes from a battle between motivational rewards and barriers arising from fear of exposure and a negative benefit-effort trade-off. The balance of this equilibrium flexes our intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to innovate or to play safe. Identifying which levers stimulate innovation and which stifle it are key to growth.

“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” ~Bill Gates

Effective Innovative Teams

Effective innovative teams draw their members from multiple disciplines and company sectors. When they join they take of their “management hats” and are invited to contribute based on their personal expertise, knowhow and networks. Why not create company “hacker spaces”  where playing to discover may create your next massive product or service? Even if it doesn’t the mutual trust generated will be worth the effort.

To successfully engage managers in the innovation process, concrete value-based objectives and clear yet flexible outcomes must be identified. Finite affordable resources must be allocated and an agreed time-frame adhered to. Most of all, you have to be seen to value the Innovation Team. It’s their effort which needs rewarding not just the wins. For every ten ideas maybe one makes money. It does not mean the effort invested in the other nine was wasted (see The Edison Principle).

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” ~Milan Kundera

As Dale Dougherty says in his TED talk, ”Makers are in control” I would add a rider that, “Users are under control.” Do you want your company to be in control or used?

Your Actions Today

  • Were you involved directly today in your organisation’s innovative process?
  • How much resource and time have you given the innovation team?
  • Did you overtly value and affirm effort as well as wins?
  • Talk to your managers and try to sense their attitude to innovation and the pressures placed on them to resist it.
  • Reflect on your personal relationship with risk and innovation.

Recommended reading

The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge (Harvard Business Review) – Vijay Govindarajan & Chris Trimble

Gary Coulton is the author of the upcoming book “Your personal leadership book of days – avoid cookie cutter solutions by using your Adaptive Intelligence”. Get your free mini-version at HERE.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

Image Sources: TED.com

Hey Leaders: Lighten Up a Little

Walt Disney

One of my favorite Walt Disney quotes is, “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.”

Now think about it a minute. You don’t need to “grow up,” in the common sense of the word, to be “professional” or a “leader,” It’s all about how you embrace yourself – your attitude – and how you present yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having some “kid” left in you. Having that bit of kid makes you more approachable – more likeable – easier to associate with.

The Right Balance

We all know the people who have changed as they’ve been promoted. They become more (too) serious and in the process lose touch with the people they supervise. They lose the kid in themselves – quite often on purpose.

When you lose that part of you it causes you to lose your:

  • flexibility
  • understanding
  • communication
  • ability to retain employee’s
  • ability to empathize.

It may also cause you to destroy your:

  • culture
  • ability to attract talent
  • current relationship’s.

What am I saying here? Act like a child? Not at all. Just keep an open mind. Continue with that ability to relate to your employees – on all levels. You did it as a peer so why lose it as a supervisor. Have some fun. Think about the best work experience you’ve ever had. I bet it had something to do with having fun.

Being An Encourager

A number of years ago I had a manager, a leader, (we’ll call him Bob) that was moving up quickly. Our team worked extremely well together and enjoyed it. We could joke around with Bob – not like a “buddy” – and we could all brainstorm to come up with any off-the-wall idea. In fact, it was encouraged. That’s a big key – no matter how goofy the idea, there may be something to it. You can’t cut ideas down. Bob always smiled, was energetic, and even poked a little fun at himself now and then. Bob’s position was putting him pretty high, but we were always on a first name basis.

But something, we don’t know what, happened in his life that drained the kid out of him. He became that serious “professional”, and it was all downhill from there. There was no more fun, no more lunches together, no more cohesiveness . . . and no more goofy ideas. People started transferring and Bob’s quick climb came to a screeching halt.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Organizations Who Have Fun

What’s one of the most common things that the most successful organizations have with each other? They have fun. People are allowed to hold on to that most precious part of their personal history.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Disney
  • Zappos
  • Flickr
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Cisco

If employees can say that they’re having fun at work, it also means that they’re not as uptight and communication will flourish because people are easier to approach.

Fun, But Serious

Now, they call it work for a reason. So I don’t mean wear a red nose, do magic tricks or a stand-up acts all day long. However, a sense of humor can go a very long way. It’s a great way to bond with people. It instantly lightens the mood and lifts morale.

The office is the office. There has to be some seriousness also. Some of us are in some very serious occupations. Just remember that no matter how serious the work is, it’s still being performed by human beings and we all need a little time to lighten the mood. As a leader, you have to be accessible and able to hear and sense when performance is needing a lift. Better yet is to not even wait that long.

Terminal Seriousness?

Do you know the general tone of your office or work environment?

Take this short quiz from Jody Urquhart to get an idea whether your staff is suffering from terminal seriousness.

Yes or No

Do you regularly catch people laughing or smiling at work?

YES or NO

When something funny happens do people stop and appreciate it?

YES or NO

Does your organization have fun activities at least monthly?

YES or NO

Do you have tools (fun giveaways, drawings) to invite employees to participate in having fun in your environment?

YES or NO

Are managers usually optimistic and smiling at work?

YES or NO

If you answer NO to two or more of these questions, your staff probably suffers from “terminal seriousness,” which is negatively affecting morale and productivity.

The Right Environment

If you need to create a turnaround in your culture, just remember, it’s not your job to MAKE work fun but rather it’s your job to create the conditions where fun and happiness can flourish.

Are your employees relaxed, or uptight? Do you see many smiles at work? Are you projecting a positive attitude? What can you do to create the opportunity for fun?

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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On Leadership, Culture and International Expansion

Telescope

The day you decide to expand your business into a foreign market is one for the books.

It’s an exciting and impressive moment!

The Biggest Mistakes in International Expansion

You put in the work to prove your domestic worth, and now you’re ready to make it big across the pond. Through research and development, major investments, and daily learning, you finally understand what makes your customers tick.

So transitioning into a foreign market should be no problem, right?

Well, not quite. The No. 1 mistake company leaders make when transitioning overseas is thinking they can use a one-size-fits-all business model for their venture abroad and still see positive results. Think again. You still need to make adjustments to suit the new country’s culture and shopping style.

Why Companies Fail Overseas

Most companies fail overseas simply because they don’t understand the market, and even big-name American companies aren’t immune to this pitfall.

Take Walmart, for example. The retail powerhouse completely missed the mark in Germany. Rather than studying cultural nuances, Walmart stuck with its customer service standards (like smiling at customers) and disregarded Germany’s co-determination rules that allow employees to weigh in on corporate decisions affecting working conditions.

Walmart’s strategy didn’t work, and it was an all-around flop.

Formulating a Strategy

As a leader, it’s your job to gauge the market and local customs and formulate a business strategy that fits seamlessly. Here are three signs that you may have missed the mark on your foreign business strategy:

  • You encounter open opposition to a policy or procedure. If employees aren’t on board with the way you do things, there’s a good chance your customers won’t be either.
  • Nobody understands your business. You won’t connect with the locals if they don’t “get” your elevator pitch or see an attractive difference in your business operations.
  • Conversion rates don’t meet expectations. If web visitors aren’t converting and callers aren’t signing up, it’s time to reconsider your move.

How to Salvage Your International Location

If you’ve already made the move and these signs seem familiar in hindsight, you need to make some fast changes to survive in your chosen market. Here are four steps you can take to get your business back on track:

  1. Stop the train wreck before it gets ugly. Listen to phone calls, shop your own stores, and talk to customers about what they like and don’t like.
  2. Find the underlying issue. Figure out the real reason consumers aren’t responding to your business. In the Walmart example, having employees smile at customers seemed like a no-brainer given the company’s success in the U.S., but German customers translate that interaction as a come-on. Identifying the real problem allows you to take swift and decisive action to mitigate your losses.
  3. Enlist your staff’s help. Employees will appreciate that you’re working to resolve the issue and that you value their input. This can also generate positive word of mouth that may speed up recovery.
  4. Appeal to the locals. Ask your staff for suggestions, and start something new that will resonate with the local culture. This shows you value your new customers, and it may earn their loyalty.

Think Like Starbucks

Although Starbucks struggled to break out in Europe, it nailed its international expansion in China.

To win over a market where tea ruled supreme, Starbucks didn’t copy and paste its American strategy in China. Instead, it created a need in the market by figuring out a way to complement the culture.

Starbucks appealed to the emerging middle class and younger generation with a taste for Western goods (without threatening the ancient tea-drinking culture). Additionally, it worked with Chinese partner companies to tailor its strategy to different regions of the country, ensuring it would appeal to local demographics.

Your business may not be a multinational coffee company, but the lessons still apply.

Once you’ve identified your ideal market, you need to get on the ground. You’re not simply looking at the competition. You’re feeling for the country’s pulse and learning how you can assimilate.

Preventing a Crisis

Here are a few ways to gauge the scene to prevent a crisis:

  • Study the culture. Understand the society’s values and the nuances among generations. Learn the thread that runs through communities and what makes people tick. This will go a long way when you’re rolling out a marketing plan or trying to attract customers to your grand opening.
  • Visit shops, restaurants, and potential competitors. Identifying which places are practically turning customers away and which are begging for them to come in will provide great insights for your own business strategy.
  • Immerse yourself. Go for long walks and get a local’s view of the city where you’ll do business. Talk to people about how they live and shop. Ask yourself which parts of your domestic business model won’t work and which will be well received.

Becoming Better Equipped

Understanding the market is key to a successful foreign expansion.

The more intimately you know the country where you operate, the better equipped you are to conduct business there.

As a company leader, if you can’t immerse yourself, recruit key on-site employees or partner with local companies and consultants. Let your customers know you value and respect their culture, and you’ll be on solid ground to make your big move.

So what are you doing to make sure you are understanding your customers in new markets? How are you learning more about them? How are you conditioning your employees to make the transition to new markets most effective? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Cris Burnam is the president and co-founder of StorageMart
Cris was named a 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Email | LinkedIn | Web