What can our company learn by diversifying, and are we sufficiently organized to learn it?
Forward-thinking managers not only will be concerned with success in new markets, but, like good chess players, also will be thinking two or three moves ahead. They will ask themselves a final question when considering a diversification move: What will we learn hy entering a new husiness, and will itserve as a strategic stepping-stone to help us enter yet other businesses? Often, companies can use what they have learned from one diversification move to enter a third market more quickly and cheaply. For example, by diversifying into the copier business. Canon learned how to build a marketing organization targeted to business customers and how to develop and manufacture a reliable electrostatic-printing engine. As a result, when Canon diversified into the laser printer business-which required the same competencies-it was able to move with speed and ease.
Managers also should examine whether a diversification move will allow them to learn competencies that can be reapplied in their existing businesses. For example, when Canon entered the laser printer business, it developed thecapabilities required to support the design, manufacture, and service of sophisticated electronics. The company
then took this knowledge and applied it to its photocopier business, vastly improving the electronic controls that allow its machines to count copies and sense paper jams.
Last, managers should ask themselves if their organization is doing all it can to transfer relevant information andcompetencies from one line of business to another. For such a flow to take place, eompanies need to have processes that facilitate and promote learning across different functions and divisions. An excellent example of this dynamic at work is Denmark's Lan &. Spar Bank. CEO Peter Schou explains that the bank's key diversification moves-such as its recent entry into the directbanking business-havebeen supported and fully harvested because 17 employee working groups from throughout the organization meet regularly to share new business ideas and information. In addition, certain people in the company are continually transferred from one area to another to act as "integrators" and "messengers" of new information. By moving knowledge around inside the company in this way, Lan & Spar hastaken full advantage of diversification. Indeed, even though the company ranks fortieth in Denmark in terms of the size of deposits, it has ranked number one in industry profitability in five of the last seven years.
The lessons that ean be learned from a company's diversification moves can be significant, but, as we have seen, there are five otherimportant questions for managers to ask before taking the leap into a new market. Those questions should help managers walk the fine line between being so inwardly focused that they miss excellent growth opportunities and so outwardly focused tbat they spend shareholders' capital on hopeless ventures. Diversification will never be an easy game, and managers must study their cards carefully. Ittakes smart players to know when it's best to raise their bets and when it's best to fold.
¿Qué se puede aprender de nuestra compañía mediante la diversificación, y estamos suficientemente organizados como para aprenderlo?
Gerentes con visión de futuro no sólo se ocupará con éxito en nuevos mercados, pero, como buenos jugadores de ajedrez, también estará pensando en dos o tres movimientos pordelante. Ellos se preguntarán una última pregunta al considerar un movimiento de diversificación: ¿Qué vamos a aprender hy entrando en una nueva husiness, y servir como un trampolín estratégico para ayudarnos a entrar sin embargo, otras empresas? A menudo, las empresas pueden utilizar lo que han aprendido de mover la diversificación una para entrar en un tercer mercado con mayor rapidez y buen...
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