Global business map with team members weighing in on how to prioritize tasks
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Strategy: Understanding the External Environment

To plan strategy on any level, you need to understand your company's external environment. In fact, your level of understanding can impact hiring, budgeting, marketing, or nearly any other part of the business world. Want to learn how to do all that? This course from GLOBIS Unlimited is the perfect first step!

Using Japanese Values to Thrive in Global Business

Japanese companies have unique cultural, communication, and operational challenges. But they also have values that have led to remarkable longevity. Check out this seminar to hear how these values help earn trust from overseas head offices and develop employees.

Several years ago, I was assigned to work in at the GLOBIS office in Singapore. Other Japanese employees stationed here often tell me of the troubles and dilemmas that arise from working on the front lines of the global business environment.

Those troubles can be from a number of things. Sometimes, they’re unsure of how to lead the local staff. Other times, they get overwhelmed by all the things that need doing and just don’t know where to start. Still other times, the head office may have told them to “localize” things, but they simply don’t know how to do that, let alone produce results when their overseas tenure is sometimes brief.

As an overseas representative of a Japanese company, I’ve experienced these frustrations firsthand. Expanding into a foreign market isn’t easy. Organizational management is complex in a culturally diverse environment.

Using Japanese Values to Thrive in Global Business

Japanese companies have unique cultural, communication, and operational challenges. But they also have values that have led to remarkable longevity. Check out this seminar to hear how these values help earn trust from overseas head offices and develop employees.

But over the course of my time in Singapore, I have come to realize that you can face the challenges of global business by honing a single skill: the ability to discern what you must do from what would be nice to do. In other words, learn how to prioritize what is essential for the business.

There will always be a limitless number of things that you would like to do. But in a global business environment, we just can’t do everything. For that reason, it is important to think strategically. Learn how to prioritize what must be done, rather than take on everything that would be nice to do.

And remember that your musts at home might very well be nice-to-haves abroad.

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4 Environmental Factors Unique to Overseas Business

Identifying top priorities and staying focused are, of course, important for any kind of project management. But overseas, prioritizing tasks carries a little more weight. There are particular environmental factors that make it more challenging to separate the nice from the must.

Global Business Growth Needs on the Ground

Economic development varies from one region or country to another. Market size, growth potential, and growth rates also vary. Even if an overseas operation seems similar to a successful one at home, the stage of environmental development will almost certainly be different. And that means there will also be differences in the operational objectives, focus points, and required resources.

Strategy: Understanding the External Environment

To plan strategy on any level, you need to understand your company's external environment. In fact, your level of understanding can impact hiring, budgeting, marketing, or nearly any other part of the business world. Want to learn how to do all that? This course from GLOBIS Unlimited is the perfect first step!

An overseas operation’s decision-making criteria will be unique.

It’s not unusual for a Japanese head office to try and apply conventional domestic wisdom to overseas operations. That’s exactly why overseas representatives need to figure out the true highest priority from where they are on the ground—and have the strength to carry it out.

Urgent and Important Tasks amid Expansion

Compared to a domestic head office, overseas organizations operate on a much smaller scale (that is to say, fewer people).

Responsibilities quickly extend across multiple fields, such as hiring, handling personnel administration, and managing finances. It is precisely at times like this that you need to strategically distinguish what absolutely must be done, as opposed to things that would be nice, but can be omitted without a major impact on strategy.

“Management” Responsibilities

At many Japanese-owned businesses, when you are posted to an overseas subsidiary, you are often given a position one or two levels higher than the one you held previously. But because staffing is limited, you’ll be expected to perform a number of roles. That means you might have daily tasks that seem to fill more of an administrative assistant role, as well as those of more traditional management.

It’s important to think about yourself in a broader context and think on your own about what needs to be done. Don’t get stuck on your level of importance. Instead, keep your eye on overarching long-term goals.

Culture

Differences in cultural background and language exert a considerable influence on the way people work, think about their job, and make decisions. In a foreign culture, your perception of common sense can lead to a lot of pitfalls.

Try to avoid imposing your own views of what’s “natural” on others. Instead, consider carefully what really constitutes a priority task and communicate that criteria clearly.

In global business, environmental factors like these can make doing business more difficult. However, training yourself for how to prioritize what must be done over things that would be nice to do will unlock the key to successful globalization.

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