Changing Altitude: The New Global Strategic Planning

27 Feb, 2013

By Mona Pearl

For some, the world is flat; others say it is bumpy and curved. Whatever the terrain, there is one major change that companies are having an extremely hard time planning for: Designing a new kind of strategy that focuses on being able to change in almost a moment’s notice, as events in the world force companies to redefine the meaning of strategic planning. There is a need to master the elevated model of integration of swift action plans into the strategic planning, while redefining the role of the plan, the people involved and the means to execute.

What has Changed?

There is a new daunting reality to many businesses around the world, where the playground presents more challenges that are unfamiliar to companies. Most major players don’t have the capabilities to respond in a swift and flexible manner, and therefore the issues become more complex, tough to navigate. The bottom line outcome is loss of market share, money and human capital.

The old planning models won’t suffice, in terms of flexibility, and the deficiency in performance is proof. What is required? Flexibility, speed, unconventional thinking, swift decision-making, a deep understanding of the reality in the field, and the ability to “move the troops” in an organized and tactical manner for better results. Managing across and beyond borders, in fast moving markets requires a laser-like focus on execution and operational excellence.

There is nothing permanent except change. We live in an era of acceptance of the fact that constant transformation is part of our lives. The global playground, the players, the rules and even the name of the game have changed.

Among the differences:

  • The size and numbers of companies entering the global market
  • Where these companies originate
  • The ways these companies perform and succeed
  • Technology is in the driver’s seat
  • The need to navigate so many variables, analyze, deep dive and understand the meaning of new concepts, not only the numbers. This requires companies to rethink approaches, investigate benefits and build a strong foundation that is flexible, modular and easy to navigate.

With all these major changes around us, one critical component hasn’t been touched — the strategic planning process. Companies still meet once a year for a retreat, board meeting or other settings, to decide what needs to be done and how to do it. The plans are written down, delegated, but are not actively exercised. Because the origin of strategy comes from the art of war, please note that the generals are usually in the field, and all wars fought through digital screens only, failed. Why? The people who plan aren’t close to the scene and to the developments in order to a sense the cause and effect in the field.


For companies to steer safely through the murky terrain of today’s global playground, we have developed a process to get started and redefine the traditional strategy steps. What needs to change in your business approach to successfully manage your global operations?  How will you redefine your global strategic planning?  How will you change the altitude and increase your chances for success?

How will your company align with the changing reality? What do you look at? Penetrating, developing and operating in international markets require an entrepreneurial philosophy and drive — the same kind of philosophy and drive behind every successful startup business. Following that logic, America — the birthplace of the modern entrepreneurial spirit — should perform well in the global business environment. Also, with its multicultural diversity, theoretically it should improve its chances for global success. Plan, commit and act. Know to ask the right questions, do the due-diligence and gather the correct data, Understand that there are many ways of doing business and corporate America needs to learn and adapt.

This means that the role models and skillsets in the C-suite need to reach that altitude as well. Risk averse, lack of creativity and doing the sure thing won’t suffice. The focus on corporate culture of not to fail instead of succeed, will not work anymore. The new frontier is that there is no frontier — businesses responding to this reality may have a significant impact on the economy as a whole. Savvy entrepreneurs will likely see opportunity where others see impasse.

Welcome to the new Altitude

Companies must develop highly flexible business models that enable them to respond to new opportunities and threats. A new process for strategic planning, to include new tools and an elevated approach will be necessary for success in the global arena. When trying to reach a higher altitude, you need different equipment with you to better navigate, evaluate and move forward.

Also, not everybody can operate in a different altitude. From the lowest places in the world to some with the highest elevations, people react in different ways: hypoxia, fainting, blood pressure and so forth. It takes time to acclimate, and again, people need different timeframes. When we apply this logic to the business world, companies need to prepare for this new altitude; make sure the company has the necessary resources to make it, practice and train while being nimble and flexible.

Mona Pearl is the founder and COO of BeyondAStrategy Inc., and an expert in global corporate expansion strategies. She is the author of the book Grow Globally: Opportunities for Your Middle Market Company Around the World. Learn more at

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