How about re-branding an entire country? That is what Generation Alliance did for Botswana as part of the global Fair Trade initiative.
This branding and design firm delivers projects to clients all over the world via a federated structure, with core employees in Australia and specialist contractors in New Zealand, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Jamaica, Dubai and Singapore.
Managing A Federated Structure
The founders, David Faulks and Nick Morgan, have thought a lot about how to manage this kind of federated structure. One way they are innovating is by attracting people of all ages, mixing younger and older talent in teams. With the demographics in developed markets shifting to older people who want or need to stay actively working for longer, this can be a competitive advantage.
Like many micro-multinationals, Generation Alliance is a service business. The term client-centric is not just management-speak for them. If the client is happy they get paid and they get referrals and follow-on business. As anybody who manages that kind of business knows, this means you cannot stick to a rigid formula. You may have your special tools and techniques, your methodology, but you have to approach each client project with a fresh eye.
Rapidly Assembling Cross-Discipline Teams Across The World
Which brings it all back to talent – recruiting, motivating and managing. This is where micro-multinationals have a great advantage. Take a project that Generational Alliance did in Botsawana. Their mission was to re-brand the country for a global market. That requires deep skills to really find out what makes a country special. They were able to assemble a team that included a consultant from Jamaica with just the right skills for that.
The ability to assemble a team quickly is a core reason that micro-multinationals are thriving. This is a long way from traditional “command and control”. It is a more like “herding cats”. You have to find projects that inspire people to do their best, to push against their limits on a regular basis.
Can This Model Scale?
We asked David Faulks and Nick Morgan whether they would change to a traditional model if an investor wrote them a large check. Their response was emphatic:
“No – we would expand the potential of what we are doing to be able to resource more international assignments concurrently and we would activate significant IP-based projects we have designed related to community, environment and exciting business opportunities. We would also immediately employ the 20 best young people we could find to create the next generation of creative change agents. We would expand our resource base/office in Europe and look to open an office in one of the developing countries we work in. We would also invest in our aim to stimulate greater involvement from ‘the Elders’ in our community in various projects where we know they can add value. “
David Faulks went on to point out:
“Nick and I have owned, worked in and worked for large organizations. We are doing what we are doing now with gen.a because we believe in what we are doing and how we do it.”
Next is Micro-Multinational Jadience
This is the second in a series of five articles on micro-multinationals. Next is Jadience. If you run a micro-multinational and want to tell your tale to the world, send an email to bernard dot lunn at gmail dot com.
So basically it’s an aggregation of international contractors/consultants/freelancers that come together on an ad hoc basis for projects? Or is there more stability for the “employees”?
Robert, companies vary in their strategy and most that I am seeing use a mix of employees, contractors and vendors. That mix tends towards free agents these days (ie away from employees) from what I can see, but company growth usually results in more jobs for full time employees as well. The key is really how companies can get to self-sustaining growth in a market where credit is tight. That means bootstrapping and a lot of this is about how to do that effectively. But also in many of these companies, the contractors and vendors rely on these companies for fairly regular (but not totally predictable sources of income). So I don’t see this is aggregration of one off projects (which people use services such as Odesk for)
Very interesting. Are you planning to cover a product-focused company using this approach, too?
TJ, yes we are profiling product companies as well. Two already in queue (ie written, will be posted in next few weeks). One is a digital product (SaaS). Another is physical (more challenging for this model). Bernard
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Bernard Lunn: Do you have a white paper / report on the re-branding of Botswana? I want to show it to a business contact who is coming from Africa and who wants to increase the trade relations between Africa and the Nordic countries.