Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu (c. 544-496 BCE), author of The Art of War
For those companies operating in China, it is wise to consider the harsh, often painful lessons learned in recent years by others including Apple (labor abuse, unfair customer care policies, and unequal product pricing), Google (control and self-censorship issues), Johnson & Johnson (selling products with old formulations containing potentially harmful ingredients), Kentucky Fried Chicken (lapses in supply chain management that led to selling tainted food), and Yahoo! (relinquishing control of its local business to Alibaba Group in return for equity, but losing all standing in the market in the process), among others. Some of these companies do manage to acknowledge their failures and regain lost ground, but the sts of such institutional distraction, repetitional harm, and wasted resources are usually quite high.
Before considering the best strategic and tactical approach specific to doing business in the China market, it is essential to remember – and have your company abide by – these time-proven, guiding business principles:
- Make Educated Decisions by First Gathering Targeted Intelligence. Seek a better understanding of actual consumer needs and willingness to pay – for what world-class strategist Clayton M. Christensen refers to as the jobs to be done – in underserved areas aligned with your company’s strengths and value proposition, the competitive landscape, and major industry trends;
- Clearly Define Success, Revisit and Refine the Plan as Needed. Identify and prioritize what you seek to accomplish and within what timeframe, but revisit and refine the plan, as needed. Many companies create well-defined, but rigid, strategies that in complex markets and fast-changing competitive environments quickly stray off the mark or become out of date;
- Focus Relentlessly on the Bottom Line. Allocate resources judiciously and wisely and – once again, as suggested by Clay Christensen – be impatient for profit, patient for growth. Once the model is proven, then focus on accelerating growth;
- Allow Freedom for Calculated Risks, Celebrate Successes. Promote a culture of constant entrepreneurship where calculated risks are rewarded, failures are used as meaningful learning experiences, and successes are shared and celebrated within the company; and
- Sufficiently Leverage Brand Capital, Company Intelligence, and Institutional Resources.
Create as much strategic advantage as possible by adequately leveraging your brand capital, company intelligence, and institutional resources to mitigate risks and ensure a greater chance of success.
To be continued…