Thriving through uncertain times

Many are the articles, posts, comments, and other interventions all over social media, TV, magazines, newspapers, and other forums about the current crisis, by opinionmakers from all walks of life, experience, and more or less legitimate backgrounds.

However, we like facts and, when assumptions, that they are based on robust and consistent arguments.

We are facing a crisis without precedent, no doubt about it. But, as in all crises before and after this one, it’s not only the crisis that has an impact on the businesses.

Crisis, at the same time, bring to the spotlight hidden problems companies and organizations usually have that impact business more than the crisis in itself: Management fragilities, bad decisions or based on insufficient or no information at all, lack of structure, organizational problems, deficient businesses models, among others.

Everybody’s also talking about the crisis as a source of business opportunities for new or re-invented businesses, distribution models, and new ways of reaching the paying client, if not for success, at least to keep afloat.

Mutatis Mutandis, this is old news and, as a matter of fact, no news at all, except to spread some optimism to society at large, minimizing the fear effect that’s over everybody’s head.

I truly believe the real opportunities crisis can promote are two and interconnected. As usual in an open market economy:

  1. Darwinism: It cleans the market of the feeble and week, unable to adapt and thrive, at the same time that exposes the truly strong and capable;
  2. Evolutionism: It gives room for companies with visionary leadership and a flexible structure as well as market-oriented business models to quickly reinvent themselves, adapts to new circumstances, adjusts processes and strategies, to conquer the empty ground left behind by the previous ones.

We are seeing this happen even in strongly impacted sectors by this crisis like hospitality, aviation, and tourism.

What are you going to do to take care of your business, get back on track, to fulfill the gap others are creating in the marketplace? What’s your excuse?



Post-COVID19: A brave new world

During the COVID-19 worldwide lockdown, one of the key issues national economies faced was the breakdown of international logistics channels, creating an alert at the national and regional level to the dependency of international supply lines.

With China being the world’s manufacturing hub, with 28% of the world’s manufacturing output (as per UN Stats), the effect of the shutdown in China alone lead to supply constraints in various industries all around the globe, not to mention China’s located 81% of technology assembly and 65% of technology components production.

The breakdown of these supply chains was as critical as the pandemic itself as it showed the dependency from China even for such things as surgical masks. For governments worldwide, this should not happen again!

This catalyst effect will break the world into three main regions, that will re-invent themselves, production-wise: Europe (and the EU at its core), the USA, and the Asian Pacific Region (APAC), with the two first ones, swiftly looking for, at least, some autonomy at key sectors production level: Food, Medicine R&D and Health, with the remaining economic sectors on the go, taking advantage of internal discrepancies to keep production prices as low as possible.

Looking at Europe alone, we are already seeing the injection of billions of Euros in the economy, to rebuild the local industrial capabilities of this economical giant, that will spread around their low-income, high-productivity, and highly qualified workforce countries like the southern and former eastern block countries, based on the same rationale that took the production industries to China in the last decades.

This is a huge opportunity for such countries, to rebuild their industrial capabilities for European autonomy, led by the German giant, that is also taking advantage of this opportunity as a leading factor to effectively lead Europe and the European economy, through their weight in the European institutions.

The overall challenge though is not to undermine the Chinese market, not anymore as a low-cost production country but as a consumer market of 1,2 billion, where the European high-end products and brands can keep on answering to their consumption demands as it already happens, due to brand awareness building for the last decades, being the real risk to the effectiveness of this strategy the Chinese government and their centralized decision-making policies, that will definitely react to the new European market strategies, unless Europe will leave behind such sectors as technological R&D and production, at the same time “killing” the American giant, that will lose economical ground due to the new Keynesian policies pushed on by the Trump administration.

We are looking at a time of great opportunities, mainly in Europe, if only Germany can out-weight their liberal rivals in the EU and, at the same time, manage to deal with the socialist southern countries, like Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain.


A Company goes to the Gym …

Companies, like human beings, if not exercise and take care of themselves, tend to grow fat, develop bad living habits, become slower, have a difficult life, and die early.
An easy way to avoid all this, everybody knows it, is to develop good and healthy habits and going to the Gym.

For a company, the Gym is nothing else than having a regular health check about performance capabilities, cost control initiatives, human resources retention policies, investment priorities, client acquisition strategies, and, above all, keep always positive the ratio between costs and profits.

There’s a recipe to do this, easily and quickly, if you are concerned about time and costs: The MoSCoW approach!

We call it MoSCoW but what matters here are only the consonants, not the vowels. And a healthy company knows exactly its MoSCoW:

  • M, for Must have: These are the company essentials, without there’s no life at all. The critical resources to keep the company running;
  • S, for Should have: If the previous ones are absolutely critical, these ones are absolutely necessary to secure the life and growth capabilities of the company. A good example of a Should is selling capabilities;
  • C, for Could have: The two above criteria and resources that fit inside them makes the company efficient and effective. However, everybody knows that from time to time, we need to give a treat to ourselves, as a reward. Do we need it? – No! Do we deserve it? – Yes! But with objectiveness and control;
  • W, for Would have: Well, this one is everything we can live without and need to avoid if there’s no value to have them in the company. We can always evaluate if a Would can become a Could, but it never becomes even a Should.

It’s not difficult to do and to implement, these good habits, based on this MoSCoW principle. Does this help you to understand what you need to do to have a healthy company?


I love my competition

For many, this can be an awkward statement but it’s true.

Let me explain:
– If you have competition, it means you are in a line of business that has customers, and this’ good news as your marketing efforts to enter the market don’t need to be as harder as if you have no competition at all.
– Also, it means you can look at them to understand where you fit, simplifying your offer to the market to some aspect not covered by the competition, taking advantage of it, at the same time.
– You can even serve the market exactly as your competition does but to a different segment or client profile. Again, taking advantage of it.
– Another advantage, if you plan it well, is the technology factor and/or economy of scale you can put in place, to outperform and outprice an older competitor.

– Having competition can be a tough issue since as soon as you become visible, they will reply with all the ammunition they can get their hands on, just to get rid of you.
– At the same time, if your costumers don’t see the benefits you are offering against the competition – or even if they see it – they can (and will) bargain with you as if you are a commodity. At the end of the day, this will happen to all the players in the marketplace, where only the strongest will survive.
– The above will also happen to your suppliers, but this time the other way around, where they will prefer to sell to the higher bidder;
– Its also normal, in such markets, that many other players want to jump in, to get a piece of it too, as we can see now in many lines of business, where differentiation is increasingly difficult.

The bottom line is:
Having competition can be good news, but remember this can also be a poker game, here who knows how to bluff will win the bet against a better hand.
And like playing poker, you should know when to stay and when to leave, or when to have a different approach.
Playing the competition game it’s not an easy task, but it can be very rewarding with the right tools and the right approach because, after all, what’s life without a challenge?



The International Mindset

Pains and Gains of thinking internationally

(Sharing with you my presentation in the Get In The Ring Global Meetup 2018)

The Lego dilemma: How to be global without losing local connectivity?
– Very few rules and processes
– Simply organized and communicated around a common ground accepted and recognized by all parts involved with room for local “imagination” to grow and thrive: – The Lego brick!

We will be talking about 7 major key points, or principles, that my experience on the field identified as instrumental to be successful in an international environment:

– Give up control and centralized decision making
– Identify and Manage the essentials, the key aspects of shared culture and values
– Accept flexibility on the ground, but always around key elements that make it possible to recognize the original idea

– Be ready to Adapt, Adopt and, therefore, Evolve
– Keeping the focus on essentials and key patterns recognized everywhere by everyone

Speak a Common Language: But adapt it to local dialects
– Integrate and Share: Solutions found in a particular context or geography can be easily adapted at large, if translated (adapted) to the local needs, without losing identity
Spread the Word: Allow imagination, but with the “brick”. Make contextualization the globalization concept

– This is Key: the “Brick” is the rule!
– In some countries, they use some brick formats and not others, some colors and not others. Imagination rules when it comes to using the brick
– This way the entire business will be interconnected and integrated

5 – BUY-IN
– Each country or Business Unit should be responsible for its own P&L and collaborate defining it
– Without local responsibility and rewards, no commitment is achieved
– If not, your “disconnecting” the bricks

– Keep alert and identify common, structural aspects of the business
– This will be the common ground for understanding and manage diversity
– It may be complex, but must not be complicated

– Draw the Business map and draw it again
– Build to change, not to last – “bricks” will come and go and patterns will change, be refined, and expanded
– Eventually, Growth will be incremental, not only because it will support itself but because it should be based on learning from successes and the unavoidable mistakes


Selling Services? – Get Real!

A usual problem that service companies face is that they are often either unaware of service problems, or are under the illusion that service is good.

On the one hand, we have experience with some services that are amazingly efficient, dependable, and organized, and on the other, we suffer through amazingly frustrating unbelievable bad service like being put on indefinite hold during service support phone call.

Most people, if they have any choice, will not tolerate such bad service.

Where there are alternatives tolerance for bad service disappears.

Service companies need to understand that they aren’t competing with bad or good service in itself. They are competing with service expectations.

Typically, most small to mid-size companies struggle to maintain adequate levels of service. Rarely do they give conscious, deliberate, intensive thought into how they can improve the services.

Service companies or Customer service departments need to understand that if they are marketing regular or stellar service to their customers, they need to stick to it as the customers tend to Expect what they communicated. And this, being a Marketing issue, can bring up or down a company’s Results, its success or failure.

Are you selling services? Don’t forget to get real!