“The TRA? And what is it here?”
To explain my praise for the multinational, I go back to when American managers told us that, at the customer’s request for the development of a new product, instead of getting to work immediately, they meet to discuss technical risk and cost assessments (see Babok area strategy analysis) for about two weeks. The most diplomatic reaction was an ironic smile: “what’s the point of wasting precious time? days off time-to-market!”. Too bad that, with identical resources, the Anglo-Saxon company had almost double profit margins compared to ours… This is how I started to try my hand at the new role of “bridge” between us and our alter egos, new allies, overseas. The objective was the research and definition of the best work process, in short, combining the advantages of two unquestionably very different business approaches.
SMEs: wealth and Achilles’ heel?
It seems even banal by now to affirm that small and medium enterprises constitute our wealth, the connective tissue of the Italian economy. And it is certainly true that the small size of SMEs implies intrinsic advantages, such as flexibility, ease in making decisions, the natural aptitude to manage emergencies. The natural habitat of the Italian manager who, individualist by nature, has always got used to the art of getting by.
However, this is often also a limitation and, above all, a serious obstacle to growth.
Never before have Italian micro-enterprises been called to international competition. It would be essential to be able to create a network of alliances and partnerships, a structured system capable of planning for the long-term future. The culture of business planning and structuring should be massively promoted, starting from schools and universities.
It is only in this way that the conditions for the transition from micro to medium and large enterprises can be created. Flexibility too often becomes the excuse to manage only the immediate, day by day. The final effect is the inability to think about new developments, and the related milestones and consequent resources to be allocated.
In Italy it is almost a cliché: the multinational is, in the collective imagination, synonymous with obtuse bureaucracy, opaque business, harmful and deceptive products, savage globalization, even corruption… In short, the worst that a vulgar and wild liberalism can represent.
However, appearances can be deceiving, let’s see why the praise of the multinational!
First of all, due to its size, only complex organizations can manage a multinational. A primary and substantial effect is the decoupling from the interest of the individual.
By definition, therefore, these companies are almost entirely immune to the risk of committing gross infringements. It is a fact: the larger the company, the more likely it is to reject incorrect elements. In fact, these put everyone’s position and reputation at risk, as well as the image with investors. There are dedicated intra-structures, which, if managed with intelligence, create a network of cross-checks, more and more efficient in keeping a common and coherent direction of travel.
Furthermore, precisely because of its extreme visibility and public exposure, the multinational has an interest in following international guidelines. Indeed, in many cases, it anticipates rules that are not yet mandatory. Ethic Reputation is now one of the main items that Investment Funds look at before buying shares and assets. Secondly, the goal of growing billionaire turnover necessarily leads to a “big”, long-term planning and, therefore, to the definition of efficient process flows, costs and risks of projects.
The ultimate meaning is to prevent costly contingencies.
Definition of clear roles and objectives: greater efficiency in the multinational
As part of a consolidated planning, it is natural to think about the definition of the roles and responsibilities of each individual team member. The construction of the Org chart and the R&R table is an essential step, a sine qua non. The transparency of the assignment of tasks is synonymous with efficiency, a healthy and productive environment, where everyone knows what to do and when to do it.
Too many times this is interpreted as a cage that prevents the individual from expressing himself freely, but this is not the case at all.
Clear roles also lead to the natural attitude to the “bottom-up” approach: constructive criticism is constantly encouraged right from the base of the hierarchical “pyramid”. All this generates a proactive environment, aimed at the continuous improvement of the flow of information and interactions.
In large modern companies, managers almost always physically work in close daily contact with their group, in the so-called “open spaces”, which minimize the distance, even moral and psychological, from collaborators.
Too often, however, our local “sciur Brambilla” tends to outline around himself a sort of halo of power, aimed at imposing impromptu decisions, to plug the hole of the urgency of the day-by-day. The result is confused organizations , overlapping of roles, and therefore envy, useless and, in the future, harmful competitions.
The best case: praise of flexibility and open-mindedness in a structured and multinational environment
It is no coincidence that Italian Business Analysis and Project Managers are among the most appreciated figures abroad. Immersed in a structured environment, immune to the risks of individualistic drifts, the predisposition to agile and flexible management, the ability to manage the unexpected really represents the best case, the optimum to aim for.
Not to mention the advantage of working in an international, inter-racial environment, where it is possible to harmonize different cultures towards a single goal, following common rules. Diversity becomes an asset to be exploited, never a danger to be avoided.
For all of the above, the promotion of the culture of organization and planning should even become a didactic subject, part of the Civic Education path.
It can become the seed for a constructive growth of the society in which we live, not only in an economic sense, in the highest sign of acceptance of the other and his role. With the natural result of efficiency, legality and “common feeling”.