“One of our senior corporate strategic planners just took on a general management role in India. Now he gets it!” –Head of Asia, Healthcare Company
In the late 19th century, Prussian military officer Helmuth von Multke famously remarked that, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Many managers in emerging markets might agree with Multke. Strategic planning is often a frustrating and time consuming process, which is complicated in emerging markets by heightened volatility, scarcity of data, and front-line communication hindered by distance and time zones. These three challenges often converge and result in strategic plans that do not last for more than a few quarters before being scrapped or forgotten.
Multke, however, was actually a meticulous planner. He developed a planning process that considered a wide range of variables and potential outcomes in order to provide front-line officers with a framework to guide battlefield decisions, despite rapidly changing and unpredictable front-line developments. As a general manager in emerging markets, your mandate is similar: to implement a planning process that results in plans that 1) guide day-to-day decisionmaking of employees, 2) are robust enough to withstand volatility, and 3) are reflective of local market dynamics despite the scarcity of granular data and the fog of distance.
Last week, I met with a group of nine senior Asia executives from a range of industries over breakfast at the Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore to discuss their best practices for strategic planning in emerging markets. Much of the conversation centered on recognizing and responding to the capabilities and constraints of local teams relative to corporate teams. We spoke a bit about incentives. And, we touched on the question of how to best make the case for investment and additional “plus plan” funding.
I’d like to take a few blog posts to share some of the key takeaways of our discussion in the coming weeks. Watch this space.