B S Raghavan

Jupiter effect and Judo strategy

Raghavan B. S. | Updated on February 09, 2011

I doubt to what extent the community of economic stakeholders of every description — academics and specialists, professionals in think-tanks, media analysts, corporate leaders, investors, bankers, market watchers, traders in stock exchanges and policy makers in government — has cottoned on to a tantalising feature of the world economy that is also going to stand conventional precepts of business administration on their head.

It is also emerging as a threat to the profitability and future prospects of firms. Heading it off is going to demand ingenuity and resilience in full measure on the part of everyone concerned. In fact, I think that it is high time a multi-disciplinary task force undertook an industry-wise SWOT analysis in a comprehensive manner.

Let me not play hide-and-seek any longer. The phenomenon I refer to can be termed the Jupiter-effect. Just as the speeds of rotation round its axis of different parts of Jupiter are different, given its gaseous composition, the pace of economic growth of different countries and geographical regions is also different.

Not only that, within the same country too, especially if it is of continental dimension, like Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India or the US, different parts may be growing at different rates of growth.

To make matters more complicated, the rates pertaining to the same country/region or any given part may not remain stable or within a predictable and narrow range but exhibit variations at different time segments.

At any given time, therefore, there are bound to be countries with low GDP but high per capita income, or vice-versa; or, there may be a scenario in which both GDP and per capita income will be high or low.

Obviously, any enterprise which banks on market shares and volumes of sales on fixed notions of GDP or disposable income of individuals of countries/regions in which it seeks to do business may soon find its bottomline eroded, if it does not go bankrupt altogether.

To survive and thrive, it is not enough if those running an enterprise have the expected familiarity with project formulation, resource mobilisation, product development, processes, operations and technologies; they should also be gifted with the capacity to shift gears in the sense of customising their products and redesigning their business models at short notice suited to the economic milieus of different countries and regions.

Master key

Most often, the key to acceptability, which is the first step towards improving market share is to understand the keenly felt needs, respect local cultures and preferences, and take advantage of the existing sales channels in the host country, instead of imposing on it the new-comers' own view of what is good for them, based on the old discredited slogan, “What is good for General Motors is good for the world”!

It is surprising to see, even in the current context of greater awareness of conditions in different countries, that many companies in industrial countries are still unable to shake themselves of that complex.

It is not products alone but the organisational structures too that should fit the local ethos, with the processes calculated to maximise employment.

The second key to winning potential customers is cultivation of a sufficient degree of humility to learn from existing local enterprises and, where possible, to join hands with them and exploit the resultant synergy for the maximum benefit of both and the country concerned.

The third and final key is to anticipate the course and direction the economy of a particular country/region will take as a combined effect of policies and strategies set in motion by governments, collaborators and competitors, and be prepared with plans on the shelf to meet different types of contingencies.

The Jupiter effect and the Judo strategy (the ability to convert one's weaknesses into strengths and the rival's strengths into weaknesses) are the answers to the lurking challenges of the likely shifts in world economy.

Published on February 09, 2011

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