globalization and minimization

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Travel and Business Icons Around Globe

“In our gradually shrinking world, everyone is in need of all the others.

We must look for man wherever we can find him.

When on his way to Thebes Oedipus encountered the Sphinx, his answer to its riddle was: «Man».

That simple word destroyed the monster.

We have many monsters to destroy.

Let us think of the answer of Oedipus.”

Giorgos Seferis

—-

“It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.”

Stephen Wright

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Well.

management what growing-global-executive-talent

 

About a decade or so ago ‘globalization’ seemed to be the business buzzword.

 

 

The world is flat!
One global strategy!

 

Bla bla la ….

 

 

First.

 

 

There may be one globe but there are a shitload of individual countries with dynamic cultural differences <even within a country> with a shitload of individuals <let’s call them ‘people’ for now> with different personalities and likes/dislikes all with a shitload of different objectives <most of which are more local focused than global focused>.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

From an individual perspective … the world ain’t flat. It is uneven and morphing all the time.

 

 

 

 

Second.

 

 

There may be one globe but there are a shitload of individual countries with purposes dynamic beyond our own.

 

 

Now.

 

A business may have global aspirations but in doing so they can never ignore the political dynamics impacting their aspirations.

 

 

My prime example in today’s business world?

 

 

I would suggest what is happening in Ukraine will almost singlehandedly destroy the concept of globalization <at least as we had conceptually viewed it> and drive businesses back to a more focused almost siloed business approach.

 

 

Huh?
Any business under the misconception that we were a ‘global economy’ has now learned that we are instead a ‘country driven’ global economy in which individual countries will pursue individual aspirations at the expense of a global view.
And if that is so then businesses need to view globalization from a ‘minimalist’ point of view rather than a ‘maximist’ <I just made that word up> point of view.

global unrest pining for a world

 

My real point?

 

 

Globalization is more about minimization than it is maximization.

Or maybe … maximizing the minimized?

 

 

Shit.

 

All I know for sure is that globalization is more about the pieces & the parts than it is about the whole.

 

 

Now.

 

 

This doesn’t mean a business doesn’t need someone who can scan the global horizon and envision how the business can poke and prod the pieces & parts that make up the whole.

 

 

The pieces & parts have to coexist and yet be independent so that if it should fall <due to political circumstances beyond a business’s control> the whole does not fall apart.

 

 

Some people are going to point out that a slew of industries are globalizing fast.

They are correct.

 

Yet …  I would argue that it isn’t ‘globalization’ but rather expanding business strategically to maximize growth using the globe as a resource. And as they do all they are doing is building a business .. not disrupting or revolutionizing the world … or even business.

 

 

Sorry.

 

Industries do not create global ‘waves of disruption’ but individual countries certainly can create ‘waves of disruption.’

 

Therefore when we talk about ‘global managers’ I tend to believe industries need global management talent to navigate local disruptions within a global business rather than be ‘global strategy & leader experts.’

 

 

<whew … I can hear a bunch of screaming from some global business yahoos who just read that statement>

 

 

But think about it.

 

Some people wonder why we rapidly burn through what global talent available <by one estimate, nearly 80% of CEOs of S&P 500 firms are ousted before retirement>?

 

 

I don’t.

 

 

I tend to believe there is a gap between what is actually needed and what we perceive we need in business.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong. There is clearly a need for global leadership.

 

 

But I believe we often overestimate the extent of globalization and underestimate the extent of management expertise in disruption management.

 

Business globalization discussion always seems to center on the business ‘nuts & bolts.’ Distribution and process and labor. And then when it comes to sales we ignore that the concept begins to fall apart.

global citizen globe

Most people live in the same country all their lives.

Most trade occurs within national borders.

Most politics is local.

 

 

What this means is that global leaders need to immerse themselves less in global … but local.

 

 

<hence my rant on ‘minimization’>

 

 

Ok.

 

 

My other gripe with ‘globalization’ is that we act like it is a new concept.

 

 

I would like to remind everyone that it was in 1889 that Nellie Bly went ‘Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.’

 

 

 

—-

note: her local editor was in favor but the global business manager, who liked the concept, wanted to send a man:

“It is impossible for you to do it.

You are a woman.
There is no use talking about it.

No one but a man could do this.”

——

Circling the globe at high speed in 1889 was both an endurance sport and a big puzzle.

 

I would like also to remind everyone that wooden ships with big sails <let’s call some of them “East Indies Trading Company”> brought goods from around the globe in the 1500’s.

 

 

 

Things have been happening for decades if not centuries with regard to globalization … and maximization of the world and its resources.

 

 

Who would have ever thought that today, with the internet and a variety of other global access resources, we would actually be making things smaller … smaller as in cocooned thinking or gathering up small groups of likeminded people.

 

 

Maybe the web is maximizing the minimized mind.

 

 

 

Businesses discussing globalization cannot make the mistake of ignoring the fact cultures become more solidified in their “fringeness” <or specific cultureness>.
And no I do not mean minimized as in ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish’ <or even unenlightened> but rather simply “closed around some current thinking.” Simplistically they become protective of what they have and who they are as a larger global monster approaches.

 

 

Why does this happen?

 

The way you currently think is always comfortable … like a warm fire. And just like warm likeminded people gather round that campfire telling stories they all like to hear … and keep the darkness <other points of view> outside in the dark.

 

hugh life nature and you

The internet actually squeezes localness into tighter belief systems as individuals protect the ‘comfortable.’

 

 

 

Cultures quite often perceive globalization as a direct attack on their survival.

 

 

One of the things that I believe global businesses ignore far too often is their own culture. What I mean is that a common mistake businesses make is to try and incorporate local into their whole gestalt. They want to blend in … rather than stand out on their own merits.

 

 

If they embrace their own culture origins it creates some challenges but globalization is NOT about being vanilla everywhere but distinctly ‘flavorful’ wherever you go.

 

 

This means that businesses which extend themselves into the global market by championing their villages of origin can accomplish several things at once:

 

 

 

– they perpetuate their own culture

 

– they celebrate everyone’s cultural identity

 

 

 

And while cultures evolve over time, time does not diminish them.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

My last thought on globalization actually pertains to the people in which we empower ‘global leadership’ in business.

 

 

I sometimes tend to believe we select a global leader on their ability to ‘see the bigger picture’ and yet my point in this article is that a global leader actually has to have the ability to ‘see the smaller picture.nobler version small-things

 

 

We give some people some incredible power under this thing called ‘globalization.’

 

 

It even sounds big.

 

And the people we place in these positions almost have to have a big ego … certainly some big confidence … or they get crushed.

 

 

It was Abraham Lincoln who said … “nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

 

 

Good businesspeople have a tendency to be arrogant. Or at least wander the line of arrogance. That’s kind of what makes them good.

 

Telling them that they are masters of a universe can only magnify it.

 

And arrogance breeds mistakes.

 

 

Todays’ business world is fairly unforgiving.

A global leader often doesn’t have time to be ‘humble’ or ‘authentic.’

 

They more often have to take the bull by the horns and wrangle their company in the direction they deem it necessary to go.

 

 

To be clear.

 

 

I am not diminishing the importance of a great leader nor the importance of a ‘global leader’ just that I believe sometimes we get caught up in the trappings of the concept <the name: globalization> ignoring the realities of the concept <pieces & parts are disrupting the whole … constantly>.

 

 

Creating or teaching a ‘global leader’ to be a global leader almost seems like a fool’s errand.

 

 

small minds dreamsAlmost.

 

 

I imagine we have to try.

 

 

What I care most about is that we teach our next generation of great leaders to always understand that there will always be things they don’t know.

 

 

Understand that character beats power.

 

 

And globalization is not about maximizing … but minimizing.

 

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I have written about the global marketing & strategy version of this before:

http://brucemctague.com/glocal

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Written by Bruce