The men and women who serve as Directors on corporate Boards do not get to that esteemed position by being reactive in decision making and execution. Being asked to participate at this high level of corporate governance is an honor bestowed to the best and most able. Directors have the ability to shape corporate growth in emerging markets such as China- Asia- the Middle East or South America.
Regardless of the region- the mandate for Board members may be to develop the internal planning to get the corporate brand firmly entrenched in these new market segments. This- however- is easier said than done. Where does this planning begin- who should be involved- what are realistic timelines to accomplish this new direction- and what role do aviation resources play?
When decisions are being made that will shape a new or modified direction for a company- identifying the stakeholders is critical. There is nothing worse than trying to implement a new direction and having someone say- “That will not work and here is why!” That would be an example of reactive planning- or worse still reactive failure modification. What is needed is the Board to be proactive.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
Build a list of stakeholders affected by the suggested modification. Interview them to introduce possible plans for expansion into emerging markets and to obtain their expectations. Think big - look beyond the flight department- which in fact serves more as the execution arm of the team rather than the generator of your firm’s plan. It is important to know where and with what frequency the plan to pursue opportunities in distant lands will involve the corporation’s internal team.
Who will be touched by this change or modification? If a company is planning on extending their sales region- there will likely be several components of the expansion to consider. Service and sales for the product will be needed- as well as sales for the product in this new market area. Legal team players will want to visit the new trade region along with top corporate executives.
These business units are some examples of the stakeholders that need to be considered when expanding into new emerging markets. Once all of the stakeholders’ data are assembled- then the flight department comes in to build the strategic execution plan. Will there be a need to acquire additional aircraft specific to the mission? Will there be a need to develop charter and other lift solutions into the region? These are just a few of the questions the Board must address proactively.
THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT
Once the Board has been given the mandate for developing a plan and the stakeholders have been interviewed- the work begins. There is no room for reactive planning. First- build on the needs assessment created by the interview process. Once annual use has been established- it will be easy for the flight department to assess the current operating fleet and determine the impact of this additional requirement.
Often demand from domestic and other more established regions will be reduced as the company focuses on emerging markets. Thus it is not always necessary to add aviation resources. Rather- the process may require a reassessment of annual use. Next- it is important to determine whether the current fleet will meet the mission in the new areas of operation. Therefore- new mission planning will be critical. Not every hour operated for business travel will be accomplished in the corporate aircraft.
There are many other viable solutions to consider. There may be charter operators or fractional aircraft providers in the new region being explored. All available options should be considered when crafting the plan.
Finally- when operating in these new regions there are many other operational issues to consider. You cannot always plot a straight line when considering distances between city-pairs. No-fly zones or unfriendly territories may exist. Alternate airports may not be nearby. Depending on the remoteness of the areas considered and possibly lack of infrastructure- the alternative destinations may be three hours apart.
Planning in the rearview mirror is a recipe for failure for any Board. It is simply too late in the game for that. Taking the time for due diligence pays off in the long run. And remember: your company’s aviation department is an effective tool for market expansion. When exploring global opportunities- proactively consider how Business Aviation will facilitate success.