Read an Excerpt
In a world of copycats and commodities, this book is truly different.
It is the first I have seen that captures the essence of how international business really works, and it gets to the heart of what I believe drives success: people and passion. We all know that shareholder value is the bottom line, but it is the enthusiasm and learning that flows through human relations that gets us there.
When I look to those markets where we have our toughest battles and biggest successes, I notice it is always the people that make it happen - undaunted by the challenges and having fun getting the basics of fast food right. Our product has never been better and the gains Burger King is making around the world have never been more impressive.
Our people have turned the business around by their sheer passion for our brand and their professional commitment. They are not longer just counting the money. We used to sell franchises for the cash flow. Today we are dedicated to sharing and talking about the customers' experience. More than that, our people are dedicated to learning how other operations did well, and then doing it better. Many other world businesses can claim similar improvements but I have not read another book that so clearly explains why.
Reading it 35,000 feet up (as I suspect many others will), I immediately connected with the idea of the SILK road. The emphasis placed here on learning from our experiences, and each other, conjures up for me the need for our internal communications to stretch around the globe, and yet be smooth and seamless. And in our enthusiasm to embrace the new e-world and the many opportunities it brings, we arereminded here that while electronic connections will be invaluable to our efforts to enhance relationships, they cannot replace or replicate the "animal spirits" and shared learning that happen when people come together.
This book is also unique in the way it links individual experiences with creating a common purpose. Many of the concepts were new to me, too. Now they seem obvious. The central observation that business is primarily social, but with economic outcomes, is something most of us know intuitively, but too often forget in our world of balance sheets, spreadsheets and so-called objective analysis. Rather than denying the obvious, we should be harnessing the power of our people and their passions, recognizing that wholly rational decision making is neither real nor desirable, an creating opportunities for shared learning.
The book also tackles the very real problems we face, and offers explanations and practical suggestions for addressing them. For example, there cannot be an international marketer anywhere who does not have to struggle with NIH (Not Invented Here). From time to time, I see some of our people, especially the successful ones, put up barriers to outside suggestions and no amount of intelligence, or emails, will bring those barriers down. We can send out as many directives as we like and they have no real effect. All that changes is a political deference to the prevailing wind.
When I was running Pepsi-Cola in Italy, and then Metaxa in Greece for International Distillers an Vintners, I probably exhibited the same tendencies. When I took charge of Smirnoff Vodka worldwide, I had to re-think my whole approach to getting the various countries behind my new global advertising campaign and global packaging design. The advertising agency, then Lowe and Partners, helped a great deal with the research and the rationale, but ultimately the nationals only joined in because they became partners in the process. We became a single team.
So I suppose, with hindsight, that we were engaged in information sharing, yes; but, more importantly, what these authors call animal spirits. Our purpose was obvious: we aimed to overtake Bacardi. What was not so obvious was that the qualities of our people would make the difference, not the calculations nor the increase in budgets that our parent company allocated. Particularly when those budgets had to be fought for with concerned determination and commitment. This also taught me how important, and difficult, it is to translate local points of view into world-wide action plans.
The only thing that bothers me about writing this foreword is the help it may give our competitors. But then we all benefit from a challenge. The better they will get, the better we wil get. So I wish this book, and its readers all the very best. And remember that the key to success is unleashing the emotional energy of the organization to take you to a new an higher level. And with PASSION we will get to the winning post first, too. Enjoy it as I did.