Putin’s Boardroom Lesson: Who Let The Dogs Out

The heightened escalation of hostilities in Kiev splashed across global news media goes to prove that even the most choreographed “coming out” parades or new launches can be a hostage to fortune. The billions invested in Sochi to showcase a confident, high-growth and modern country are submerged beyond powerful images of fires, death and Russian political influence in Ukraine’s domestic affairs. When the 2014 Winter Olympics are over, it is clear no amount of images showing celebrity giant slalom skiers, 15 year old ice skaters and singalongathon’s  at the bottom of the Big Hill will stick long in the mindset of most people watching around the world. It is also a timely reminder to executive management tasked with exploiting profitable growth opportunities in a high growth market that they can never control or plan for everything.

  • If you have the predominance of your infrastructure in place, start, don’t wait to be 100% ready or 100% certain.
  • You must have preventative and contingent action in place for incorrect assumptions (market size, market demand, propensity of buyers to buy through different distribution channels) or unplanned events (the arrival of a new competitor, the announcement of new regulations)
  • You must establish clear accountabilities within the business for monitoring progress towards business goals and appropriate interventions
  • You must plan in advance to regularly bring good news to your key constituents, such that the need for changes of direction “on the fly” are put in the appropriate context
  • You must hire people with the skills, aptitude and personal resilience to work daily in a highly ambiguous environment
  • You must surround them with the appropriate tools (technology), support (feedback and resources) and authority (decision-making power) to manage a safe passage through the rocky terrain

There is a slightly macarbe irony watching a Russian DJ pumping up the crowd to the strain of 1990s anthem “Who Let The Dogs Out” in a momentary lull before the evening final of the ski jumping, and events across the border this week in the Ukraine. What is clear is that even the most powerful and wealthy governments and businesses cannot control everything and have to prepare for foreseen and unforeseen obstacles.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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