An International Plan For Tough Times

March 8, 2009
As I follow the news, concerning the current down market and economy, I am reminded of difficult times in the past. I was the vice president of an international division of a Fortune 500 company during the 80’s.

During those years, many companies, certainly ours, were so concerned about the domestic slow-down that little or no attention was paid to maintaining or growing international business. It was difficult to get the attention of top management and even more difficult to get the needed personnel and financial resources to succeed. Also, there was an attempt to limit overseas travel to manage expenses. What a dumb idea.

In my opinion, anyone having responsibilities for international business  is about to face the same challenges now, or in the immediate future. Is anyone concerned about what we all are about to face?

In order to continue to grow a business in a down economy, two things are critical. They are both simple, but often ignored. Firstly, the plan must identify, then focus, on the most critical success factors for the new situation. Secondly, everyone needs to know exactly what to do and only concentrate on what is important. Sound simple? Are you or your company thinking about this? Do you do these things now?

Often plans tend to be more top down then bottom up. Many companies focus on sales targets and financial numbers, not paying enough attention to what managers and individuals must do to accomplish those objectives.

We were able to develop a planning process that forced everyone involved to only focus on the most important and critical objectives and tasks. The new plan was completed in weeks and was not difficult to manage, implement and revise on the fly. The plans were successful.

I have since used this process both, in many multi-national companies and in my own international consulting business. Does anyone see the difficulty we are most likely to face and question how they can effectively get the job done. If anyone has any questions on how this works, I would like to try and help.