As future business
leaders we will have to deal with eco-systems dominated by multiple elements,
various dynamics and different levels of complexity. Argentina exemplifies
these aspects by combining intimidating components such as a rampant inflation
of 20%, a corruption level higher than those of both China and India and a
volatility that would test any investors’ nerves. Not only local managers are
uncertain about the future but they also have to face the popular assumption
that successful people had certainly cheated and robbed to get where they are.
This is a depiction of an amazing country possessing treasured resources and a
highly educated population but who fell collateral victim of political
experimentations. Even though this environment could daunt the bravest and boldest,
I met joyful leaders seeing hopeful signs of recovery by handling this
uncertainty at their benefits. It is certain that the Corralito at the end of
2001 – freeze of bank accounts and conversion
of dollars accounts in devalued pesos – associated with the image of a
country that has barely managed to stay solvent, do live in the collective
memory of the business community. However there are lessons to take from the
successful leaders of Argentina, a mix between pragmatism and risk taking that
will facilitate my understanding of volatile and uncertain markets in the
context of my own organisation.

While being
a major player within the medical devices industry we thrive in a much secured
environment which is controlled by strong regulations and compliance policies.
Moreover our core activities primarily take place in developed countries and
territories where stability of the legal and economic environment is preserved
but at the expenses of a limited growth. This perspective encourages us to
explore promising markets, knowing that digging into emerging economies will
lead to adapt our corporate mindset. Thus, this assignment in Argentina
particularly resonates with my coming mission next summer in Asia where I will
be in charge of the development of our commercial activities. Thus we can
wonder how to capture opportunities and conduct sustainable business operations
in theses turbulent territories.

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In light of
the foregoing we can assess how the commitments
framework presented by Donald Sull help navigate through unstable and
unpredictable business conditions. The notion of commitments known as promises that organisations or
managers make can easily paralyse the machinery of the business. These necessary
pledges which are encapsulated in five different categories – Frames, Processes, Resources, Relationships
and Values – tend to lock the entire company in a certain trajectory. While
we expect organisations to display flexibility to as great an extent as
possible when environment shifts, leaders may remain entrapped in a tangled web
of commitments they have wisely woven. As Donald Sull puts it, relationships
become shackles, values become dogma and processes are routines.