As a business person you might not give a care about the events in the Middle East unless of course you happen to have some personal connection.  Whether it might be family, ancestors or even a business office the question is whether we should give a care.   I’m not really certain why but for some reason the happening in the last couple of weeks in Gaza have had an effect on me.  Being reminded that we have friends who are living in Jordan but have relatives in Gaza at least gives me reason for concern.  I guess the day to day exposure of watching, listening, following, tracking and using the constant flow of information has sensitized me to the terrible effect of anger.  Whether anger is manifested in the form of war or whether its simply hurtful words the end result is that someone gets hurt, and for what?   Does it make you feel better, did it bring about change, and was the world made a better place or were we simply lulled into believing that we had reached a stage of finality in which we could move on from.  Nothing every is the same, and the hurt will remain for generations to come.  Even the slightest provocation will generate a resurgence of past deeds, good and bad, self-righteous and ill mannered.  Yet in the end we still must face on sobering reality, we are the makers of the world we live in.  Compromise is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strong compassion, stiff neck behavior is its counter force and a reflection on ignorant non-caring.

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Whether your business is the area of conflict it will have an effect on your.  Do not believe for one moment that it doesn’t.  Whether it effects your supply chain partners (who may be doing business in the region), customers who have operations there or no connection what so ever in any direct sense events in the Middle East (and elsewhere) have direct effects.  These encompass both personal, commercial, social and the future direction of the world.  Even if you are buying from a company in Malaysia, have an operation in Vietnam or a friend in Kenya the effects of the Middle East will have an effect.   The same can also be said for events that occur in your home country.  Just look at all of the speculation, posturing, pontificating and bantering that took place surrounding such events as the U.S. Presidential elections, Moody’s downgrading of Frances AAA bond rating, banking collapses in Space, the insolvency of Greece or the upsurge in the Southeast Asian economy.  Events are intertwined with everything we do.  A strike 8,000 miles away effects you, sometimes instantaneously and other times with a generous lag (which we often overlook until it becomes our immediate reality).   You don’t think that the bankruptcy of Hostess Bakeries had global implications and although the U.S. consumer is effected it also had direct impact on global sales, distribution and even raw material purchases (although admitted to a lesser extent than most consumer products).  

So as business people how can we keep our eye on the ball?  It could be argued that simply knowing about these matters is good enough.  This assumes however that we understand the full extent of our business and how it plays in the total global scheme.  If we are feeling a bit tentative about this, have spent any real hard time looking at it then its never too late to examine this and to form a means by which these matters can be monitored.   Sophisticated, usually larger companies, carry this out through an international operations section.  It has however been our experience that this group only touches upon those direct connections and overlooks all of the rest (usually because of time and funding).  So give that there hides in the closet a short coming we have examined ways that your company can stay on top of their game.

  1. Utilizing the tracking done on direct connections establish how these interplay with other global operations and regions.   This is a straight forward but important task to undertake.  The dividends will be through higher sensitivity to changing global conditions.  If there was ever a term more befitting it would be in this case, and the term would be ‘global business intelligence’.
  2. Employ news and advisory sources.   The word of caution is to use this information in conjunction with other information sources, but don’t rely in just a single source.  This becomes the fuel that feeds the global intelligence engine.
  3. If short on resources or where there is no allocation to undertake this ongoing vigilant monitoring task consider the use of Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) companies.  Be attune that not every KPO is in fact such and that even if they specialize in knowledge based analytics they simply may not be equipped or experienced enough to undertake global status/state monitoring.

With each new day there is a dawn.  The turmoils of yesterday may be the hope for tomorrow.  Our businesses do not exist purely on good fortune, luck and coincidence…. real sustainable success is vested in the infrastructure necessary to make a difference and remain afloat in a sea of every changing uncertainty.

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