A Non-committed Management Team: A Fatal Mistake of International Business
Should you enter into an off-shore operation without the total commitment of all of the management team?
Setting up and successfully building an international operation is a challenging prospect. Often opportunities arise for international sales within a division of a company, and an international champion may spearhead the project. However, if there is a lack of support and commitment either from, or within, the senior management team at home, it will be significantly more difficult to successfully implement and grow.
It is hard enough to build a successful off-shore operation even when everyone is aligned and working together. A lack of management commitment will be quickly identified by those working in the company and will dilute the effectiveness of the whole project. Sometimes this may be in the form of an underfunded budget or lack of cross-departmental support allocated to the operation.
Once the Board or CEO determines that an off-shore strategy is required, it is essential for the Vision and the Strategy to be clearly defined and communicated to all of the managers and stakeholders. If there is little or no opportunity for round table discussions, at best a lack of clarity will prevail and at worse, the project will fail.
One by one, international opportunities evaporate or are awarded elsewhere due to delays. International champions begin to abandon the fight.
After years of effort and expense, an off-shore program is shut down by the Board as being non-viable. Meanwhile the company’s major competitor entered the market and cleanly implemented essentially the same strategy. The competitor is now Number One in sales in country.
Each of these scenarios demonstrates an effect of a lack of management commitment to international endeavors. It can be discouraging and eventually deter your team from bringing new ideas and opportunities to the table. In addition, this lack of commitment may materialize into:
It is highly likely, and should be anticipated, that there will be different levels of commitment and enthusiasm for a new off-shore venture. Before the company launches the initiative, the senior team must openly discuss their concerns, work to resolve the differences, and be aligned and totally committed to making the new venture successful. If this is not accomplished the venture should be changed or put on hold. Alternatively, the senior management team should be reconstituted to ensure the required level of commitment. This level of major change will need to be made, because the likelihood of success is significantly diminished without the wholehearted support of the management team.