Fantastic Four - building a superhero team to enter and compete in complex new and emerging markets
US companies have strong interests on expanding internationally, but very little know how to properly strategize and execute. In this hack, we will talk about the diverse Four types of team members needed to optimally explore and exploit new market opportunities.
Companies fail with international expansions because of
1. No clear international strategy & plan
2. No one who 'owns' the project -
3. Not having people on the ground in those markets or having a 'local' staff
4. Not having managers with international experience
5. Not having managers with experience with handling ambiguity
6. Reactive to market opportunities rather than being proactive
7. Not allocating optimal resources
8. Poor communication plan - there is interdependence between offices
9. Not having optimal organization structure; centralized/decentralized/hybrid
10. Not adapting product/service to local market
Using Fantastic Four as a analogy, here are the 4 types of team members, companies should have.
Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards: This is your management consultant type, armed with Porter's 5, McKinsey 7s, Six Sigma the other frameworks/techniques and has great analytical skills. This person should also help 'local' team members become great managers.
Invisible Girl/Susan Richards: This person should be based at the home office, has the role that there is clear communication between home office and overseas team. This person should also lobby on behalf of overseas team to home office management to ensure expansion project is not an after thought.
Human Torch/Johnny Storm: This person should have early stage start up entrepreneur and/or expatriate experience. Their methodology they employ may be agile/scrum, OODA Loop, Steve Blank's Customer Development model and design thinking.
The Thing/Ben Grim: This is the key 'local' person who will help the company understand and navigate through the local market. This person can also act as a layer of protection against corruption or help overcome obstacles of local cronyism.
With this team, there is diverse enough skill sets to handle the complexity of market entries.
McKinsey management consulting firms and their former employees can provide great analysis, plan brilliant strategies and are normally have the top talent in terms of education pedigree. This Mr. Fantastic type are also very used to working with a.) large data sets, b.) being in established markets and c.) divorce execution from strategy. In working in new and emerging markets, data is often incorrect or not available.
Experienced Venture Capital funded start-up entrepreneurs have prior experience with building or selling products that may be useful for needed adaptation for new specific markets. They have natural skill sets to framing problems and finding solutions. They are also used to handling ambiguous and uncertain situations. These are all translatable skill sets for working in emerging markets.
These 2 contrasting roles helps make complexity manageable and balances whether amount of 'exploring' and 'exploiting.'
Having a local person with expertise and a person back at the home office to ensure there is communication, salience and support to be able to immediately exploit opportunities, rather than going through rounds of due diligence and be stuck in analysis paralysis.
Assembling the team.