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Conversation with Olivier Teboul

Conversation with Parfums Christian Dior Japan President Olivier Teboul

Last week I held and onstage conversation with Parfums Christian Dior Japan President Olivier Teboul for the French Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Below are my personal takeaways from what we discussed.

  1. Before starting a leadership assignment in Japan, take time to travel around and visit the entire country, even if it takes a few months, Bring a guide. Sample the food, See cultural sites. Learn the history of each area. Later, in building relationships with Japanese people you meet, it helps tremendously if you can talk about what you experience in the place where they come from, whether employee or business partner. 
  2. When looking to implement dramatic change in the business, you have to confront your people boldly, and you can do so even in Japan. Build trust first with a few of those on your leadership who are most amenable to change, even if this takes time. Those are the ones who will support you most when you confront your entire leadership team, and help you achieve success fast. This process works in Japan and any other country.
  3. Those on your leadership change who are most amenable to change have common behaviors. They articulate a strategic vision of the business’s potential that they have thought of themselves, and they succeed in changing behaviors of the people in the part of the organization they lead. These people are best candidates to become your primary agents of change discussed in 2 above. These behaviors are common indicators across all countries including Japan.
  4. A well-functioning and aligned leadership team, each member of which collaborates well with those who lead other functions is critical if you want to attract and retain the best talent, no matter the level. Brand reputation, business growth and success are also important, but without the well-functioning team at the top, all bets are off. If you have people problems at the top, fix those first before beginning any external recruitment.
  5. Your own business’s e-commerce can be one of your largest sources of revenue in Japan if your do things right, and make the right kind of investment. While many talk about how e-commerce in Japan lags behind e-commerce in China and the United States, there is no axiom that this has to be the case. Your business can be an exception if you want to make it one, and are determined to do so.
  6. Profit-sharing schemes for your business’s brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retail is only one possible solution to keep brick-and-mortar retail managers from viewing their company’s e-commerce as a threat to the part of the business they oversee, and it is likely the most intellectually lazy approach. There are multiple approach to align behavior toward what is in the best interest of the business. That requires bold and smart leadership, as opposed to leaving all to Adam Smith to sort out.

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