Today's corporate elephants must learn how to dance.
Corporate firms used to lumber like elephants and some still do: it was so bad that Harvard’s Rosabeth Moss-Kanter wrote a book insisting that “Today's corporate elephants must learn how to dance”.
He came to New Zealand on a sales mission which ended with him being recruited to head a University based consulting unit at Otago. With a team of ten and many MBA holders, he was dedicated full time to “added value export led growth”. Thirteen years later, he was recruited to head New Venture programmes at Auckland Graduate School of Business, before returning to teach at Otago.
Richard’s Sloan Fellowship year at London Business School was dedicated to the study of Corporates in International Markets. He returned there later to teach the MBA and Sloan classes. While at the Business School, he started a firm “parallel exporting” laboratory chemicals and equipment into New Zealand. He quickly learned the basic skills - documentation, hedging, exchange rates, letters of credit, engaging agencies and so on.
To this Richard said, “We start our paper with questions, in a subject full of paradoxes. Firms have to learn to be two often mutually incompatible things, at the same time. We review case histories, go out to visit firms, get managers to tell us their stories, exchange experiences in the class and read literature on handling changes, and we all come up with our answers. Years later, ex MBA’s send me emails saying things like ‘I never thought I had learned so much’, ‘what we did was so useful in my work’ and ‘are you there still?’ We have a challenging but wonderful time on the MBA.”
In the Strategic Planning for International Markets course, Richard will lead the class to study how the elephants can learn to dance.
“The set book used for the class was updated three years ago and only one of its ten chapters is dedicated to ‘local or global’ issues. It is the best source there is and it is already out of date!! So we have to explore what is happening now, through the eyes of managers grappling today with the challenge of handling cultural, managerial, political, and social difference. New Zealand is a small player but here we rely on success in international markets. The question seeking to be answered in the class is ‘How?’“, said Richard.