The global manager operates as an "insider" in every market
Managing in a Borderless World
by Kenichi Ohmae
Most managers are nearsighted. Even though today's competitive landscape often stretches to a global horizon, they see best what they know best: the customers geographically closest to home. These managers may have factories or laboratories in a dozen countries. They may have joint ventures in a dozen more. They may source materials and sell in markets all over the world. But when push comes to shove, their field of vision is dominated by homecountry customers and the organizational units that serve them. Everyone-and everything-else is simply part of "the rest of the world." ...view middle of the document...
By violating the principle of equidistance, his attendance underscored distinctions among dealers. He was sending the wrong signals and reinforcing the wrong values. Poor vision has consequences. It may be unfamiliar and awkward, but the primary rule of equidistance is to see-and to think-global first. Honda, for example, has manufacturing divisions in Japan, North America, and Europe-all three legs of the TViad-but its managers do not think or act as if the company were divided between Japanese and overseas operations. Indeed, the very word "overseas" has no place in Honda's vocabulary because the corporation sees itself as equidistant from all its key customers. At Casio, the top managers gather information directly from each of their primary markets and then sit down together once a month to lay out revised plans for global product development. There is no single best way to avoid or overcome nearsightedness. An equidistant perspective can take many forms. However managers do it, however they get there, building a value system that emphasizes seeing and thinking globally is the bottom-line price of admission to today's borderless economy.
only the govemments possessed real facts in anything like real time. Today, of course, people everywhere are more and more able to get the information they want directly from all comers of the world. They can see for themselves what the tastes and preferences are in other countries, the styles of clothing now in fashion, the sports, the lifestyles. In Japan, for example, our leaders can no longer keep the people in substandard housing because we now know-directly-how people elsewhere live. We now travel abroad. In fact, ten million Japanese travel abroad annually these days.
Information has made us all into global citizens.
A Geography Without Borders
On a political map, the boundaries between countries are as clear as ever. But on a competitive map, a map showing the real flows of financial and industrial activity, those boundaries have largely disappeared. What has eaten them away is the persistent, ever speedier flow of information-information that governments previously monopolized, cooking it up as they saw fit and redistributing in forms of their own devising. Their monopoly of knowledge about things happening around the world enabled them to fool, mislead, or control the people because
Kenichi Ohmae heads McKinsey's office in Tbkyo. He is the author of The Mind of the Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (McGraw-Hill, 1982), Triad Power: The Coming Shape of Global Competition (Free Press. 1985), and Beyond National Borders (Dow fones-Irwin, 1987). Mr. Ohmae's articles for HBR will be part of a book on global strategy to be published by Doubleday in 1990.
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW May-|une 1989
Or we can sit in our living rooms at home, watch CNN, and know instantaneously what is happening in the United States. During 1988, nearly 90% of all Japanese honeymooners went abroad. This...