Will Your Business Go South?
The balance of the global economy is on the verge of a critical shift. According to business advisor and speaker Ram Charan, it will be an era in which your company can fade into obscurity or rise to claim a stake in the $2 trillion of new economic growth. In Global Tilt, Charan tracks the migration of production, innovation and power to the part of the world that lies below the 31st parallel.
Charan is globally renowned for his ability to pierce the complexities of business ideas and deliver concise observations that motivate and guide. His record speaks for itself with best-sellers such as Execution (co-authored with Larry Bossidy), What the CEO Wants You to Know, What the Customer Wants You to Know and Profitable Growth is Everyone’s Business, among others. The paradigm-smashing Global Tilt has the potential to be Charan’s most impactful book since Execution.
Bridging the Chasm
Charan removes the blindfold and allows executives located in the traditional economic powers (the United States, Western Europe and Japan) to stare at the widening business chasm between their own region, which Charan labels the "North," and the "South." Charan groups a number of countries in the latter category, from obvious selections such as China and India to nations such as Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Nigeria.
The southern nations are on the rise due to a confluence of factors. Some of the reasons are well-known (low-cost labor and massive numbers of graduates with technical expertise), but it’s Charan’s ground-level factors that might elude analysis by northern companies.
For example, Charan discusses the hesitancy of northern companies to invest in southern countries due to a lack of infrastructure and political tides that can shift and change the rules of the game. He writes that leaders of southern companies "are accustomed to the vagaries of the government and regulators and to the inadequacies of ubiquities such as electrical power." Through observations such as this, Charan forces executives to do a bit of soul searching. Tapping into a $2 trillion growth market sounds tempting, but are northern companies prepared to set up shop where offices may not have air conditioning?
A Mirror and a Lens
Charan has an amazing gift for succinctly depicting a situation and drawing comparisons that connect with readers. Other authors have made attempts to describe the economic landscape in terms of where we’re headed. Charan simply writes, "Think of the 19th-century United States." When executives think of the Industrial Revolution and the titans it produced, it becomes easier to see how developing nations, aided by the X factor of the Internet, can produce their own Vanderbilts and Rockefellers in the span of a fiscal year.
There is nothing fanciful in Charan’s discussion of the global shift. He deals in realities. Executives will be in his debt for stripping the sugar coating from his insights and leaving actionable plans for better business execution. Global Tilt holds up a mirror to northern ideas while creating a lens to see the southern countries in a new light.
The book forces executives to confront some painful realities about the nature of the northern way of doing business. Charan makes no apologies for citing the "short-termism" of satisfying shareholders each quarter as endemic of northern economic decline.
Charan is one of a handful of current business authors whose work can genuinely transform a company. He sets the stage for a dramatic renaissance for northern companies. The question is whether the leaders of those companies will have the skill and fortitude to break free from convention and take up the challenge.
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