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18 July 2024

Expo 2020: 10 critical questions strategists should ask

Dr Tamer Elewa (SUPPLIED)


The excitement of the UAE winning the Expo 2020 is still going with lots of dreams placed on the enormous possibilities for business gains that can result from such an event. However, there are 10 critical questions business strategists should ask in order to turn the dreams into solid plans.

1.      Did I fine-tune my strategy to get ready for the event? Do I need to enter into new alliances?

Whether you are a production facility or a service provider, you need to start thinking if your capacity will be enough to serve the increase in demand that is expected during the Expo. Entering into alliances (either from the same industry or cross-industry) could be a magic potion to organizations. Did you think of getting into a coalition with a hotel, hospital, transportation or catering company to support your plan to serve your clients? If you will wait to do some on-time deals, you might not get what you want in terms of quality or quantity, so it is a good idea to start thinking of who could be your strategic alliances from now, and get your strategies synchronized together so all of you can manage their internal operational plans.

2.      Is my organisational culture Expo-compliant?

UAE has selected the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ for the Expo 2020 theme, and putting this into the context of over 167 nationalities visiting Dubai to do business, it is appropriate to start thinking if your internal organisational culture fits the theme. If organisations want to live the theme, it is time to start embedding this in their culture.

“Connecting minds” requires lots of open thinking and cultural awareness, while “Creating the future” demands a risk-taking culture which is not found in several organisations. Embedding the Expo culture from now might be a good idea since most of cultural change programmes take from 5-10 years to show a real progress.

3.      Is my organisation globally-enabled?

According to the Wall Street journal, Dubai expects around 25 million visitors to come to the UAE for the Expo, and those would be requiring services provided in several languages and in the correct cultural context.

Did you think of uploading a mirror to your website in Spanish? Chinese? Portuguese? French? Is your call center ready to answer customer enquiries in at least six languages? Currently most of the organisations have the English-Arabic version of information, but those who plan to make the best out of the event will start thinking of enabling the front line with some global tools like language / cultural awareness programs from now.

4.      Do I have the right people on board? Are they ready for the job?

Staffing plans could possibly be one of the trickiest points when preparing the organisation for the Expo, simply not only because the number of clients is not an easy thing to estimate, but also because staff

could leave at any time and create a sudden gap in human resources. It is then very important to start building up capacity and capability from now and developing internal staff for the event. Capable and engaged staff is likely to compensate for under-staffing through quality and dedicated work. If you have not thought of fine-tuning your internal development plans in response to the expo, then it is time.

5.      Is my investment plan ready? Is my sourcing plan feasible?

Six years from now, it should be time for the Expo, and in the life span of organisations, six years is almost one strategic cycle and planning for investments (either permanent infrastructure or temporary leasing) should have started already. Warehouses, lodging, transportation and catering are expected to be costly, and the longer you will wait to make alliances, the higher the risk of paying a much higher bill.

6.      Are team members engaged in the Expo 2020 vision?

How many members of your organisation know about the Expo 2020 theme? Do they know what it means to the UAE? Do they know what it means to your organisation? It is time to start linking the Expo 2020 vision to your organisational vision and establish a clear mission of engagement between your organisation and the Expo. This will also help in building up the culture that is ready for the Expo.

7.      Did I communicate well enough our organisational goals to my team? And are they clear on how to get there?

The journey towards the Expo is few steps away, and to get there, the organization should establish clear goals and wins they expect to get from this event. More importantly, employees should understand their role in this journey and critical milestones they need to achieve in order to know that they are on the right track.

8.      Is my risk management plan in place?

Probably the sourcing risk is the most obvious risk an organization would need to plan to (either financial or human capital), while in fact, some other high risks are the intellectual and technological risks. Are my core skills sustainable? Do I depend on few core people that are corner stones to my success? Are my servers backed-up? Are they secure from hackers? What possible new technologies do I need to acquire in preparation for the Expo, in order to serve a wider range of clients in the desired.

9.      What will I “as a leader” do differently to get ready?

The personal leadership mindset is in many strategic plans forgotten. If the organization needs to change, the leadership mindset should also be challenged in terms of: What learning do I personally need to do? Do I need to qualify myself with a degree? Language? Skills? Do I need to read more about cultures? How can I lead my organization through this important journey and ensure success. Every successful leader should always have a learning plan, along with a follow-up log.

10. Do I have a change-plan in place?

Finally, without a good change management plan, dreams will never see the light. Organisations should clearly appoint change leaders who will monitor and audit the change plans and give advice to where they need to modify or change. Change managers are like the aircraft’s radar beacons, and clearly assigning them, along with clear change plans is crucial for the journey to reach to a success.

The Expo 2020 is just around the corner. It is time to get the strategy in place, and start moving forward. It is a great opportunity that was once a dream, and will only realise to those who are ready for it.

[Dr Tamer Elewa is Assistant Professor,MBA programme at The  British University in Dubai.

The views expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect in any way, the views of Emirates 24|7. Readers are advised to carry out their own due diligence before taking any decision.]