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Using Rooted Maps in Global Business

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Mon Sep 17 2012

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Using Rooted Maps in Global Business-758fb9ae4314d5c136fad2f740d871b6c06c0070b6f96970c8da870fe8d60934

The recent McKinsey Quarterly article, “Remapping Your Strategic Mind-Set,” contends that changing your thinking by looking at the world from the perspective of a particular country, industry, or company. “Rooted” maps can help you unearth hidden opportunities and threats.

The author, Pankaj Ghemawat, an alumnus of McKinsey’s London office, is the Anselmo Rubiralta Professor of Global Strategy at the IESE Business School, in Barcelona. He explains that senior executives need better mental maps to navigate our unevenly globalized world. Although a wide variety of metrics show that just 10 to 25 percent of economic activity is truly global, executives disproportionately embrace visions of unbounded opportunities in a borderless world, where distances and differences no longer matter.

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According to Ghemawat, global executives should make use of a special kind of map—one he calls a “rooted map”—to help leaders enhance their intuition about the opportunities and threats inherent in our semi-globalized world. He explains, “Rooted maps correct a misperception reinforced by conventional ones: that the world looks the same regardless of the viewer’s vantage point or purpose. In the real world, though, geographic distance and differences in culture and policy matter. To better reflect this reality, rooted maps depict the world from a specific perspective and with a particular purpose in mind.”

Ghemawat adds, “Rooted maps also can help strategists detect looming threats—competitive ones, as well as broader external risks. For starters, consider the ability of rooted maps to portray the world from the perspective of key competitors. As a leader, you should examine what your rivals are doing to reduce their sensitivity to distance and be realistic about where you can gain an advantage versus where you need to take steps to match their moves.”

Read the complete article, “Remapping Your Strategic Mind-Set,” to learn more.  You can also learn more about rooted maps in World 3.0: Global Prosperity and How to Achieve It (Harvard Business Publishing, May 2011).

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