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Back to the Core in 2014

Core in 2014 with world

All the talk about thinking locally and acting globally has become more than a bit clichéd. And, with everyone in business able to sell products and services anywhere in the world with relative ease, how do we determine exactly what is important on a local basis and what needs to be consistent no matter where in the world you are working, or whom you are working with?

Start with the right people

It’s great to have local people on the ground in other countries. It’s important that they speak the language, know the currency, and can navigate the legal system. But what must be global, in other words the same everywhere, are the basic tenets of people who can solve problems, who can navigate around risk, and, most importantly, can be ambassadors of your company culture.

Cultural fit is not about representing your country of origin; it’s about representing your business of origin. These employees need not only to be hooked into your headquarters via technology and teams, they also have to have a strong understanding of the company’s objectives and business goals, and they need to support the personality of your company and your brand.

Expect everything from your competition

Competition is global too. While local competitors may be real current threats, looming in the not-too-far-off are contenders all over the globe. With everyone wanting to go global, it’s only a matter of time before good businesses everywhere take their business abroad—inevitably landing in your territory, possibly through buyouts of current local competitors. Suddenly, your little local competition grew up and is a big, bad threat. And, they already know the language, currency, laws, and, more importantly, the local marketplace—which gives them an incredible competitive advantage.

Stay true to the core of your business

So how do you keep growing your business within an ever-changing and evolving global marketplace? How do you keep gaining share and increasing revenue? My thoughts are this: With everything that is new—better technology, expanding social media and web opportunities, big data—it’s the stuff at the core of the business that is going to make a difference.

Because it always comes back to price, service, and relationships.

With all the trends, if you don’t have a decent price that offers value to your customer, if you don’t have the right people to support your business and cultivate rich relationships, and if you can’t give customers a satisfactory, quality experience—you just not might be in business in the next few years, locally or globally. It seems too simple, but I truly believe that if you maintain a strong focus on price, service, and relationships, both you and your customer will win, and both of your businesses will grow. And we will all be back to read this blog again next year.


Adrian Gonzalez


Great commentary. I liked that you called out the importance of relationships, which I referred to as "the most important attribute of a supply chain leader" in one of my postings last year (link below). In terms of "basic tenets of people" everywhere, I would add strong and effective communication skills, which is obviously a key enabler of establishing and maintaining meaningful business relationships.

Price, service, and relationships might be "the core" of any business, but is that the same as a company's "core business"?

I believe they are different things. In this fast changing world, a company also has to remain vigilant that its "core business" is not becoming disrupted/displaced by new technology or business models, and be willing to set its sails in a new direction.

What do you think?




Mark Derks

Thanks for the response, Adrian. Certainly strong communications skills are a must in your people profile, especially as it relates to problem solving for customers. Strategically I think there is a ton of merit in your “core business” comment. Keeping healthy your “core business” that fueled past growth and success is all too often discounted over time. Companies that fall into that bucket would do well to employ a “reinventing-the-core” business strategy to bring back traditional customers.



Simon Ellis

I liked your observations very much Mark. In our fast-paced, technology-enabled world it is all too easy to lose track of the things that are at the core of what we do. I wrote a piece last year arguing that too many supply chain organizations have lost sight of their core principle ('what does my supply chain stand for?') and that at the end of the day I'm either known for price, service or product quality. Sure, companies have to be competent in all three, but only one can be the first principle, the thing that I will just not compromise. Thinking about the fundamentals is often the best place to start to take advantage of a new opportunity.



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