Friday, April 10, 2009

Globalization - Like Graduating from High School to University

Making the jump from a leading domestic company and taking your business onto the global stage is analogous to going from high school to university in many ways. You suddenly become part of a much bigger universe and there is much more diversity (cultural, interests, geography, skills etc). Usually, this means that you have to be more focused to succeed and start to specialize in your field of expertise while at the same time being exposed to more opportunities and broadening your horizons. Everything becomes a little less structured and you become even more responsible for your own development. You are leaving your comfort zone.

Another particular analogy is the idea of grants. Particularly talented individuals get grants to attract them to different institutions. If you're a talented student (especially in a particularly desirable field of study), you get a grant to further your education. If you're a talented company, countries will often try to grant you subsidies or other concessions to attract you to reside within them. Desirable companies like manufacturing operations to boost exports and the balance of trade.

Standards for success increase. Just because you were smart in the previous life is no guarantee for success in the next. In fact, taking that first big step into the bigger world often acts as a wake up call. Immature behaviour which was previously tolerated because of youth and lack of exposure can now get you in big trouble, but at least you now have a much greater awareness and the opportunity to adapt. You have to change your habits and take on more responsibility.

While previous generations could rely on making the jump to a higher level as their ticket to success, an increasingly crowded pool of talent means that this new higher level isn't a point of differentiation: It's now just table stakes (necessary and not sufficient). And if you choose not to make the jump (for whatever reason) it doesn't mean you are insulated from other people who decide to make the jump when you are competing in the same market place. Old jobs that would allow you to start without a certain level of education are slowly requiring that you make the jump to a higher level or be beaten out by others that do. You have to change your habits and gain new skills to succeed.

But you don't have to go it alone. There are support networks at home. You can join up with partners in the new playing field. You can be mentored by those who have gone before you. You can investigate and ask about the potential benefits (and challenges) that await. It doesn't have to be an overwhelming nor insurmountable challenge. But it will be a challenge. And depending on what you invest in it, it could be incredibly rewarding.

The bottom line is that to succeed you have to be good at what you do, take responsibility, and keep improving.

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