Management adaptability and flexibility are key in globalized business

In the past 10 years the world has faced many dramatic changes—from a new economic and financial scenario after the 2008 subprime crisis to a new geo-political setting marked by Brexit and the proliferation of populism in the western world. Many companies and governments continue to struggle with the effects. Nowadays, adaptability has become one of the key factors that determine whether managers succeed or fail, whether companies grow or stagnate, and whether politicians stay relevant or face irrelevance.

In management, adaptability is a critical skill. As a matter of fact, a recent report states that “91% of HR directors think that by 2018 people will be recruited on their ability to deal with change and uncertainty” (2014, The Flux Report by Right Management). In my case, the ability to remain adaptable has helped me beyond any expectations.

In 2015, before moving to Germany from Chile, I co-founded Tree Digital, a digital marketing consulting company, which I managed remotely during my MBA studies at ESMT Berlin in 2016. This year, after the MBA, I made the decision to keep managing the company from Berlin. I saw an opportunity to expand our operations to Germany and the advantage of being in the most important startup hub in Europe. However, I experienced hard resistance from colleagues, family, and from my team. Many thought that this was not a wise decision, stating that it is almost impossible to manage a company remotely and that physical presence is one of the keys to success.

Adapting to the vessel

I have found out that remaining flexible and adaptable has allowed me to make faster decisions, to see a clearer picture, and to respond to my business needs much quicker. Also, I have learned that emotional intelligence is a vital competency when communicating change to any team.

To achieve growth with Tree Digital, I have been promoting an inner culture that embraces change to make us move quickly. We have designed a light organization with fewer hierarchies, yielding more freedom to design, think, and propose new ideas. This has been the secret sauce to keep high levels of motivation, productivity, and growth.

The eight key lessons that I have learned during this experience are:

  1. A flexible manager must be willing to move out of his/her comfort zone.
  2. There is no such thing as “doing things by the book.”
  3. Allow yourself to learn continuously as a vehicle to constant adaptation.
  4. See opportunities where others see failure.
  5. Ask yourself: “What would someone else do in my position?”
  6. Sometimes it is good to do things in a different way.
  7. Focus on the core strategy; do not get distracted by the details.
  8. Embrace change and make it part of your culture.

Even though the future is not written, I know that the only certainty is change. Therefore, I know that staying adaptable will always be the best approach when facing the future.

About the author

Enrique Planas is the Chief Motivator Officer at Tree Digital, an entrepreneur, and an enthusiastic amateur chef. Write to him at enrique@treedigital.cl or +49 176 35747757

A Panda in Myanmar

One of the reasons that made me choose the full-time MBA at ESMT is the international exposure options that the program offers. As part of the curriculum, I had the chance to go to Seoul and Tokyo for the International Field Seminar and to IE Business School in Madrid for the one-week exchange within the Global Network for Advanced Management. And upon graduation, combining my passion for travelling with my desire of making a positive impact, I enrolled in the ESMT Responsible Leaders Fellowship and joined the panda family at WWF in Myanmar.

Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is a country in South East Asia bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. After its independence from the British empire in 1948, Myanmar was flourishing and one of the richest nations in South East Asia. However, five decades of military dictatorship following the coup d’état in 1962 isolated the country and left it in poor shape. Continue reading “A Panda in Myanmar”

“Building a business isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

The work of an entrepreneur is never done. Since I started selling awesome paper wallets as BERLIN slim, I’ve realized that what I really signed up for is a never-ending list of tasks. Everything needs to get done yesterday.

After a brief honeymoon period, it dawned on me that if I didn’t start making money soon, I wasn’t going to make it. The pressure Beautiful slim paper wallets from BERLIN slimslowly began to mount. I found myself working longer and longer hours, in a vain effort to finish one more thing.

It sounds a lot worse than it is though. Honestly, I love it!

I want to share some of my observations on starting a business. I went in with a few misconceptions and my own personal blind spots. I hope to spare you from some of the problems I’ve had.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. I’m also going to explain some of the reasons why I think it’s a great adventure and why you might also want to inflict yourself with the same pain. Continue reading ““Building a business isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.””

Tida’s RLF in Nigeria: Immersing Myself in The Culture

In isiNdebele we say ukuhamba kuzala iNkosi which, loosely translated, means travelling bears a king. Metaphorically speaking, this means that travelling is an enriching experience. I’m going to share a bit of my experience in Nigeria with you all. Doing an RLF, for me, meant helping out at an organization in a developing country through the skills I’d gained at the ESMT, but also being moulded personally by the experience. I immersed myself in a culture different to my own, and came out a better person on the other side. Continue reading “Tida’s RLF in Nigeria: Immersing Myself in The Culture”

Tida’s RLF at AfriLabs, Nigeria (Part 1)

“Tida, don’t smile so much in Nigeria if you want to survive, o!”

“Never leave your food lying around – you could get poisoned!”

“Make sure to tone down your accent so that you don’t seem foreign!”

“Beware those smooth-talking Naija boys!”

“Shine your eye, o!”

This is the advice I got from friends and family on how to ‘survive’ my three months in Abuja, Nigeria. Almost everyone around me seemed worried when I chose to do my Responsible Leaders Fellowship (RLF) there – if you read some of the messages I got, you’d think I was heading out to a war zone! Especially for my Southern African family, my decision to go to Abuja instead of Cape Town (which would only be 2 hops away from home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) was beyond comprehension. Let’s just say Nigeria(ns) don’t have the best reputation in Zimbabwe and the image of Nigeria is mainly formed through Nollywood movies whose storylines often centre around witchcraft, cult-killings, drug cartels, kidnappings, love ‘hexagons’ and evil mother-in-laws. Oh, and the fact that my cousin eloped to Nigeria with a Nigerian guy some years back didn’t make matters better for me – mom’s suspicion levels were at maximum 😉

This was not going to be my first time in Nigeria, though, so I was really relaxed and excited about the opportunity – until the week before I left Berlin. Continue reading “Tida’s RLF at AfriLabs, Nigeria (Part 1)”