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Governing a post-global world

In the real world right now, we have more trade, more immigration, and more cross-border investment than at any point in history. We are massively expanding global flows in goods, services, finance, people, and data.

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5 min

Smart and stateless: global companies in a digital world

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Smart and stateless: global companies in a digital world

Global trade is a sprawling web of data and financial transactions that transcends geographical borders.

Forget conventional geography with its neat national borders and colour-coded alliances – everything you thought you knew about how the world works has either changed, or is about to.

To understand their place in a globalised economy, leaders need to figure out the trade and data routes that really matter – then redraw their maps accordingly.

Heralded by mega-trends such as K-pop [South Korean pop music] and China’s huge investment in Africa, trans-global disruption is afoot. Cross-cultural connectivity is growing, spurred by broadband and emerging power blocs. The whole geopolitical map is being redrawn.

At the same time, deprived of traditional reference points, people are struggling to differentiate the good from the bad. As the world stage changes, they are looking to leaders to win their trust through excellent service and reliability. Fulfilling these needs may sound like an incredibly big ask.

And it probably is. Yet leaders can, and must, develop strategies to navigate the complexity, embrace opportunity and adapt to the new normal that hinges on trust. Here is some insight into how.

 

Stateless for starters

Taking a structural approach, make your business a “stateless superpower”, advises consultant Parag Khanna, senior research fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalization at the National University of Singapore.

This means becoming as globally distributed as possible, “so that you fly under the radar of the increasing regulatory frictions that are forcing you to become a local company”, Khanna says.

Be a company that has no single home market, no single dominant investor pool, no one centre of management, Khanna says. Stateless companies have followed this model for a long time and are prospering more than ever.

He cites commodities trader Glencore as a classic example. Another, management consultancy Accenture, has constantly migrated its headquarters over the years. Asked where it is based, you couldn’t say for sure.

“It is everywhere,” says Khanna. “And so I think the answer is to be as stateless as possible.” That way, he advocates, you can avoid localised regulatory pressure that discriminates against foreign investors.

Even if an organisation lacks the resources or wherewithal to become multinational, it can still thrive in other ways in this new environment.

 

Seoul shows how it’s done

One way is to engage with the sharing economy, in the same way as the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, does. He is leveraging the community trend known as “collaborative consumption”.

Seoul offers free wi-fi in outdoor areas, and locals share bikes, houses, jobs, even dogs.

“He’s hugely popular,” says the chief executive of innovative charity Nesta, Geoff Mulgan, who dubs Seoul a sharing economy “champion”.

The reason Seoul works so well, Mulgan says, is Park’s focus on meeting people’s needs, instead of just toying with apps. Hence Park’s nickname: “the listening mayor”.

The attentive, innovative problem-solver with a background in law and social entrepreneurship, is a hard act to follow, but leaders seeking instant inspiration may turn to a cutting-edge urban marketplace that Mulgan admires: Citymart.

Designed to transform the way cities fix problems, Citymart connects planners with solutions through open challenges to the public and entrepreneurs – who may be anywhere. Consequently, Mulgan says, a disruptor may well be disrupted, and local talent may miss out.

“It could be a start-up in Vietnam that gets there first,” he says. “But at least it opens the whole process up to merit rather than to connections.”

 

Reputation reaps rewards

However much merit your organisation has earned to date, guard it closely. Since a carefully nurtured image can be tarnished by a tweet any time, reputation is a vital commodity, the national general manager for government at Telstra, Dr Jack R Dan, says.

The key insight for government entities is that customers are also members of a global community in which trust is a fundamentally important value. Whether you lead a company, a not-for-profit, or a government organisation, keep its trust rating firmly in mind, says Dr Jack R Dan, national general manager of Government at Telstra Global Enterprise Services, who leads the research program that tracks the interplay between the sector and the public.

One way to earn the trust of today’s hyperconnected citizens is to fulfil the expectation of dialogue, because the public will no longer serve as the passive recipient of a message aired by an organisation. “It [the public] is very much a participant in the conversation,” Dr Dan says.

Working with the Australian Government, Dr Dan is researching the concept of a holistic, relationship-based model of citizen engagement that riffs on the everyday act of signing up for a Telstra account.

“So whether you are buying mobile services or pay TV, entertainment or broadband services, we have a single view of you,” Dr Dan says. “You come to us and we can tell you what is good or what isn’t so good for you – what makes sense, what you’d be eligible for, what would be the best offer or value proposition for you. Imagine if the government could do the same thing.”

Organisations and their leading executives need their A-game because people are wising up – as they must, to handle the digitally-enabled information overload.

“So they develop new skills, new abilities of shifting through that oversupply of information and understanding what works and what doesn’t – what’s relevant and what isn’t,” Dr Dan says.

By the same token, he says, if you script and vet communications too much, your audience will be unimpressed. In the interests of authenticity, you need to sound reasonably genuine – avoid sounding too corporate so you truly connect.

The key lesson for the public sector is that, amid all the upheaval, now more than ever organisations must focus on winning their constituents’ trust. In this complex, post-digital climate, only if a company has earned that trust will it secure the business or the traction it needs.

The future belongs to leaders who can keep their constituents close – a little like family. Don’t let them drop off the map.

 

Idea in brief

Business is redrawing the map:

  • In this fluid landscape, leadership is more challenging than ever
  • Consider adopting an agile, stateless enterprise model
  • Explore disruptive trends such as collaborative consumption
  • Avoid talking down to your increasingly smart clients

[transcript]

Dr Jack R Dan
National General Manager, Government,
Telstra Global Enterprise Services

Trust works at a number of different layers.

People have a great deal of trust in the public servants that are involved in frontline delivery of services. So your teachers, your nurses, your doctors, your other health professionals, your firemen, your police.

There’s a great deal of trust placed on those people, they are considered to be professional, they are considered to be working hard, and are considered to be doing the best for the community.

That creates a gap between the expectations and the current delivery, and that gap is something that the government needs to address.

One of the things that any organisation, being public sector or private sector, company, not-for-profit, or government department need to firmly keep in mind, is the fact that they have a trust rating, and that trust rating has a direct influence over the message they are trying to put forward.

And once that trust rating starts going down, then no matter how careful you packaged a particular type of messages or, for that matter, how useful and critical it is, it’s just not going to be listened to.

When you’re designing a service you have to keep in mind both the way that the customer’s interact with that service. And what is the role of information and content in that service.

One of the most interesting dimensions of the change is the fact that people expect a dialogue nowadays. The communication is two ways as opposed to one way. So the general public is no longer the recipient of a message put forward by an organisation, be it public sector or private sector, it is very much a participant in the conversation.

 

For government agencies and departments, the digital age is a catalyst for change – opening new pathways for delivering the services and citizen experiences of tomorrow, while building a more open and collaborative government for all.

Find out more.

 
2 min

Five things you need to know about the global economy – but didn't

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Five things you need to know about the global economy – but didn't

Political transformation, the “gig” economy, and the individual value chain; meet the new global economy.

Technology and globalisation are marching lockstep towards the social and political transformation of both the individual and the nation-state. We tapped three visionaries to get their ideas on how the global economy is changing, and what it means for business.

 

1. Scale isn’t what it used to be

Scale happens quickly in the technologically driven global economy. This is good for the consumer, says John Ferguson, senior economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, but it’s not so great for employment.

“Compared to Ford 100 years ago, companies like Twitter employ far fewer people,” Ferguson says. “This is something we need to think about from a macroeconomic perspective because scale doesn’t create the same number of jobs as industry did a century ago.”

2. Change means having great vision

The pace of technological change is so vast that business is often ahead of where the public is, says Ferguson. “While there are great technological opportunities presented to us, they exist in a vacuum without a political vision for what the future might look like,” he says.

As the rate of change becomes exponential, political vision for the future must keep pace to avoid alienating and disenfranchising people.

3. Buzz is an economic indicator

Humans naturally desire the new and interesting, says David Adam, founder and principal of Global Cities. This means the local texture in an economy, diversity of experience and excitement are just as important as other social and political considerations.

“David Bowie came in from Bromley in South East London to go to Central London to make something and experience new opportunities,” Adam says. “That is the kind of creativity that cities can create and buzz is fundamental to that.”

“It’s the diversity of people and the diversity of ideas that will make a city vital and resilient.”

– David Adam, founder and principal, Global Cities

4. Individuals are the new economy

The individual is now the central unit of value creation, says futurist Ross Dawson. Organisations have to become flexible and fluid in how they use people. “People want more control and flexibility in their lives,” he says. “Companies are going to have to restructure what they do and how they do it to accommodate this trend.”

According to Dawson, some forty per cent of people in the US are now members of what he calls the “gig” economy. This gig economy is also driving the rise of platforms to enable the individual. “Think about eBay, Etsy and others,” he says. “They’re all enabling platforms for the individual.”

5. Global citizens means political transformation

The globalisation of the workforce is vital for the texture and resilience of cities and economies, says Adam. “It’s the diversity of people and the diversity of ideas that will make a city vital and resilient,” he says.

And as citizens become global, they begin to transform the political process. “They will ask what more is there for me, how can I grow as a person,” Adam adds. “And that means political transformation is an inevitable part of this growth.”

 
 
2 min

Life in the global village: New media for a new age

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Life in the global village: New media for a new age

Global media is entering a new age as lucrative business opportunities grow ripe for the picking.

It’s an interesting fact that the most popular soap opera in Brazil is made in Korea. This is just one example of how the global media landscape is shifting, with transnational production partnerships at the fore.

While the profitable nature of these partnerships may be surprising to some, for digital media and television consultant, Seth Shapiro, this is only the beginning. As television production rates ramp up, it’s becoming increasingly common for formats and programmes to completely bypass the Anglo-Saxon market.

“We’re living in a global village where access to media is easier, faster and available on more and more devices,” Shapiro says. “You no longer need big movie theatre chains or major TV networks. You just need enough eyeballs.”

 

“Now you can take a format from Korea and bring it into South America and that doesn’t have anything to do with Hollywood or New York. It completely bypasses the Anglo market.”

– Seth Shapiro, consultant in digital media and television

[transcript]

Seth Shapiro

Consultant in digital media and television

We are in this global village where everything becomes more and more available more and more quickly, via more and more devices.

The wiggle room that media companies had traditionally, a lot of that has evaporated.

They have to adapt because the models that maintained their margins in many cases in the past aren’t going to hold up.

The plus side is that your audience can be so much greater because you can reach so many more people so quickly if the product is good.

So instead of having three networks to watch TV, you have a virtually infinite number of places that it can be watched.

The rate of increase in the number of TV shows produced around the world is explosive and it’s because there’s so many more places to watch them.

Maybe you can take a format from Korea and bring it into South America and that doesn’t have anything to do with Hollywood or New York. It completely bypasses the Anglo market.

You’ll see more and more of those formats develop as more and more content goes online and there aren’t as many intermediaries.

The intermediaries were always the big movie theatre chains or the big TV distributors or the big TV networks. If you can get something online and find out you like it, you don’t necessarily need those people.

You just need enough eyeballs.

The explosion of digital media and devices has disrupted traditional mass media. Ask your account executive about the exciting technology Telstra operates in this space

 

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1 min

At the coalface: Leadership for the next century

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At the coalface: Leadership for the next century

Adventurous leadership has never been more accepted, or necessary.

Nowadays successful leadership is about much more than physical presence. It’s about creating conditions for innovative excellence, and adapting to change and ambiguity.

Whilst economic infrastructure is paramount, social infrastructure to drive innovation is equally as important.

The ability to ensure processes and systems reward, rather than discourage, innovation are a leadership necessity, says NGS Global’s managing director for South-East Asia, Marianne Broadbent.

“Leaders set the culture and the context for organisations, for their ability to deal with ambiguity, and their ability to deal with change,” Broadbent says. “Leadership is actually everything.”

 

“You can get the most simple and clear ideas from those who are at the coalface.”

– Marianne Broadbent, managing partner, South-East Asia, NGS Global

[transcript]

Marianne Broadbent
Managing partner, South-East Asia,
NGS Global

Leadership is actually everything, in my view.

Leaders set the culture and the context for organisations, the ability to deal with ambiguity, the ability to deal with change, to both model adaptiveness and then to assist others to also be adaptive.

That ability to set up the conditions for innovation, to ensure that our processes and systems really reward innovation rather than discourage it.

I think here there is really quite a need for our leaders to think a little more broadly and really to be willing to be a bit more adventurous.

Real benefits will come from looking at simplicity, looking at ways of providing services that citizens actually tell us that they want, because it’s not necessarily always the leaders that will identify exactly what’s required.

But you can get the most simple and clear ideas often from those who are at the coalface.

 

Explore highlights from the latest research; hear about future trends and the transformation being predicted by industry experts; and watch case studies on government teams putting innovation and technology into action.

Find out more.

 

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