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April 22, 2007

HBR - Globalization and Summit Syndrome

I've been trying to catch up on the stack of magazines I've accumulated recently.  Here are summaries for two of the articles I enjoyed from March's Harvard Business Review. 

The first was on "Managing Difference: The Central Challenge of Global Strategy".  Ghemawat proposed the AAA Triangle framework to tackle global challenges: adaptation, aggregation, and arbitrage.  With adaptation, companies seek to boost revenues and market share by maximizing local relevance.  With aggregation, they focus on building economies of scale by creating regional/global operations.  And with arbitrage, they exploit differences in national or regional markets by locating different parts of their supply chain in different places.  Although all companies use all three A's to some extent, the A's can be used to create further global differentiation and to exploit competitor weaknesses. 

The second was on the crises gifted performers have at each peak of their success.  This article resonated with me, because I thrive on encountering new challenges and get bored when I no longer seemed to be challenged as much.  Summit syndrome, when gifted performers become dissatisfied at the peak of their success, has three phases.  In the approach phase, the person puts in a lot more effort with marginal gains in improvement, trying to recreate the adrenaline rush of the climb.  Plateauing then occurs when virtually all of the challenges have been conquered.  These individuals continue to produce stellar results but become much more dissatisfied with the work they're doing.  The final phase is descent.  In this phase, performance will slip noticeably and sometimes wrecks havoc on relationships and personal morale. 

To be able to keep this syndrome at bay, it needs to be recognized early on, which can be difficult to do for both an on-looker and the individual.  When it is recognized though, these four steps can be taken to dispel the confusion and set the stage for the next stage of productive growth:

  1. Understand your "winning formula" and the vital part it plays in feeling stale or losing your edge.
  2. Reconnect with your core purpose in life.
  3. Recast your current, or future, job to better align your internal aspirations with external requirements.
  4. Create a developmental path by honing a handful of core leadership competencies.

I'm going to keep this in mind the next time I start to feel bored over an extended period of time. :)

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