Human beings love to classify; to break people and things into groups. It helps us to make sense of the world. But sometimes, it can make us think we’re more different than we actually are.
Take fast-moving and mature markets. They can seem to be worlds apart. But I’ve just been to the press conference for the 2013 Hay Group International Conference (27-28 November), and two things came through loud and clear:
1. The issues facing CEOs in fast-moving markets are very similar to the ones facing CEOs in mature ones.
2. Wherever you are in the world, your organization succeeds or fails on its people.
The theme of the conference is “leading transformation”, and this year it’s taking place in Shanghai – the first time it’s been in Asia. Delegates will hear from CEOs and thought leaders on how to transform their organizations to meet what our own CEO, Stephen Kaye, calls a “perfect storm” of challenges: globalization, disruptive technologies and changing demographics.
Here are three of the questions asked by journalists, and the answers given by the Hay Group panel, which included the managing director for Hay Group North East Asia, Wayne Chen.
1. What are the special challenges facing businesses in China?
*They’re very successful. It’s easy to see a case for change when things are going badly; it’s much harder transform constantly. But the companies that do so will succeed.
*Businesses in China are very used to a high and fast-growing GDP. But now it’s slowing – and could do so faster than it grew. Mature markets are used to the ups and downs, but China isn’t, so not everyone will survive.
*Political, economic, cultural and technological changes are happening very fast, and external demand is weaker than before. Companies need to respond very quickly.
*There’s still a shortage of talent.
2. How can businesses get a return on their investments in technologies like cloud computing, when they’re so costly and complex to roll out?
*It’s about implementation rather than initial outlay – people within the organization need to make the most of that investment for it to pay off.
*We see retail businesses deal with this in moving from traditional sales channels to e-commerce. Those that succeed adjust their business and the operational models, and bring about the behaviour change needed (“change the DNA”).
3. How can CEOs develop a truly globalized mindset?
*Leaders in China are very smart and open-minded – they can adapt quickly. But not all of them are “globalized”. We’ve worked with Chinese companies who have managed to expand outside of the country because their leaders have a clear story for why they’re globalizing; there are strong, globally minded people at the top, both in China and outside; and they’ve put governance structures in place that are strong, but still allow for some local flexibility. If this press conference is anything to go by, it promises to be a great event.