Global Tilt: A book review by Bob Morris

Global TiltGlobal Tilt: Leading Your Business Through the Great Economic Power Shift
Ram Charan
Crown Business (February 2013)

For leaders in global companies, here are a compass, GPS, searchlight, x-ray machine, and microscope to find their way

I have read and reviewed all of Ram Charan’s previously published books and consider him to be among the most thoughtful and thought-provoking business thinkers in recent years. His latest book may well prove to be his most valuable and most influential, at least thus far, because he provides in it an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that can be of substantial benefit to almost any executive in almost any organization, at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise, whatever its size, nature, and competitive marketplace may be. In fact, I also highly recommend Global Tilt to those now preparing for a business career or who have only recently embarked on one. In fact, the issues he addresses so brilliantly have implications and potential consequences that are relevant to us all as we proceed into an uncertain future.

The title refers to the fact that, in Charan’s words, “the world has tilted. Its economic center has shifted from what have traditionally been called the advanced or Western countries of the northern hemisphere to fast developing countries including China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, and others in the Middle East and even parts of Africa…Wealth is moving from North to South, and so are jobs…The South is driving change. The North is afraid of it…The world is in an inevitable transition to a more even distribution of opportunity and wealth…The global financial system, which h connects the economies of all countries every second of the day, is highly unstable…Many countries below the thirty-first parallel are creating their own rules of the road and executing their growth plans to win jobs and resources for their people…Companies are competing against countries – not just other companies. Northern companies may be building their future competition in exchange for access to markets…The tilt will seesaw along the way…Like it or not, you have no choice but to figure out how to position your business in light of the changes.”

This mosaic of excerpts from the first chapter, “Welcome to the Tilted World,” creates a context, a frame of reference, for the information, insights and wisdom that Charan provides as he shares everything he has learned that can help his reader to lead the given enterprise “through the great economic power shift,” not only to survival but indeed to sustainable prosperity.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Charan’s coverage.

o Dissecting the Tilt, and, The Rocky Road to a More Equal World (Pages 18-24)
o What You Need to Know First (25-27)
o Dangerous Instability (37-42)
o Do We Have a Winner? (52-58)
o Innovation Unleashed, and Billions of New Consumers (65-73)
o Sorting the Ongoing Challenges (82-89)
o APPENDIX TO CHAPTER TWO, The Global Financial Crisis: Who Dealt This Mess? (91-96)
o They’re Expert at Learning New Businesses: GMR Group (102-113)
o They Can Create Innovative New Business Models: Bharti Airtel (132-149)
o It’s Time to Unlearn Old Lessons (155-162)
o Change Your Psychology (177-183)
o Diagnostic Exercise: “The Ten Decisions of a CEO” (205-206)
o Mobilize Your Social Organization (214-217)
o Are Critic al Decisions Being Made in the Right Way? (247-254)
o The Logic of GE’s Challenging Partnership 260-271)
o “What should a global com pany look like in the tilt?” (296-301)

Before concluding his brilliant analysis of what continues to be a great as well as increasingly more perilous and turbulent “economic shift,” Charan observes, “Every company needs flexibility and responsiveness to keep attuned to changing conditions and new opportunities – and to stay financially afloat in the event of a tidal wave that washes in from some unknown corner.” He urges his reader to be prepared to meet it “by developing the mind-set and skills needed to be a leader in the global tilt.” He then shares with his reader a summary of key points to keep in mind: “Your Global Leadership Challenge in a Nutshell,” seven essential skills and abilities that will be urgently needed in months and years to come.

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the material that Charan provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how the mastery of powerful tools will enable them to stay calm, remain confident, and be productive whenever the pressure’s on.

I also highly recommend this book to those who are now preparing for a business career or who have only recently embarked on one, and presume to suggest that they also read two of Ram Charan’s previously published books: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (2002), co-authored with Larry Bossidy, and Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty: Managing in a Downturn (2008).

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