Archives For Global teams

This past week, I found myself in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. I went with the idea that I would relax and enjoy the long holiday weekend… and I did. However, as I observed a forest with both old and new growth, I also could not help notice the trees ravaged by sickness and fire. I found myself thinking about what the forest has to teach us about business…

The forest is a global entity made up of individual components with very different characteristics, yet at the same time is very interdependent upon one another.  In business, the term “Think Global/Act Local” was originally based on the idea of customizing standardized products and services for regional consumption in accordance with the local language, currency, culture and regulatory climate. The challenge arose as we lost sight of our interdependence as a global entity. Not surprisingly, localization encourages each country of operation to develop its own customized solutions and operational procedures. This results in data silos around the world and companies operating with huge information blind spots across the spectrum – the forest can not thrive as it should. It can take weeks, even months, to collect, reconcile, translate and analyze regional performance – much less consolidate a global view of the corporate picture. As I looked around and considered this, it occurred to me that if global is seeing the forest, then local is tending the trees. With only a view of the forest as a whole, it is possible to overlook the trees that need attention. Up close, it is easy to focus on the detailed care of each tree, but lose sight of its contribution to the overall forest. Balancing both viewpoints is critical to keeping the trees in the forest healthy. Global corporations are like a forest – a sum of its parts – consistent, meaningful and effective local practices must contribute to the success of the whole. Continue Reading…

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Globalization and rapidly changing technology continue to sweep the world. All organizations work across boundaries and  borders of one type or another and face significant challenges as they seek to reach and maintain market leadership.  Inherent in those challenges are often unrealized opportunities. One such opportunity, teams, offer a wealth of leverage to the discerning  leader. Our research repeatedly identifies the following advantages when teams are leveraged effectively:

–       Economies of scale and scope are realized

–       Effective learning & knowledge transfer takes place

–       Strategic capabilities are enhanced

–       More innovative products and services are developed

–       Better understanding of customers is achieved

–       Strong cultural intelligence fostering competitive advantage is accomplished

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While nearly everyone in today’s global workplace recognizes the need (and appreciates the value) of collaborative work, it is not easy – especially when cultural differences, time zone challenges, work and communication styles enter the equation. Despite this, true global collaboration is simply too valuable not to take advantage of because it provides you, as a leader, with a significant opportunity to leverage learning, negotiate meaning, and share aptitudes – creating high potential sources of competitive advantage.

The rapid pace of globalization and the growing number of collaborative technology solutions have enabled virtual work while the demand for skills from around the world have made it a necessity. However, collaborative teamwork in virtual environments is not intuitive. It’s far more than dealing with technology and time zones – it is about people and the value that cross-cultural, virtual collaboration can bring to the organization.

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Every organization is comprised of people with different worldviews. It is inescapable – recent statistics indicate upwards of 90% of business’ have a culturally diverse workforce. What does this mean for you as a leader? It means… You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide. It means… if you want to succeed, Cultural Integration should become a critical component of your business strategy.

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We all have different worldviews based on our various life experiences. In today’s business environment, bringing people from different backgrounds together and appreciating the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives in a cohesive way becomes very complex. Cultural Integration is really, in its simplest form, about bringing those diverse people together to leverage the unique strengths of the individual parts to create a stronger, more competitive whole.

So what can you do to build Cultural Integration into your organization?

Some confrontation at work is expected (even healthy), however if there are individuals in your organization with Chronic Confrontationitis, it’s up to you, as a leader, to protect your organization. Afflicted individuals have the nasty habit of separating people from information, social situations, peers, tools to do their job, affection and admiration… as well as hard earned acknowledgement and praise.  They actively create a culture where people feel “less than”, causing both emotional and physical stress.

Without the acquisition of effective strategies to combat Chronic Confrontationitis, competent team members may end up with damaged careers or become so uncomfortable with the conflict in the environment that they opt out all together.  If you, or individuals within your organization, are impacted by someone with Chronic Confrontationitis, there are several things you may want to consider:

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I have frequently done business in Japan throughout my career. It is interesting how the country and the culture have changed over time, but beneath its surface lies an extremely productive and effective society.

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To the outsider – or gaijin, as we are known to the locals – Japanese business customs appear to be so deeply entrenched in culture and tradition that they couldn’t possibly be applicable to the rest of the world. But don’t be too quick to write off the value that Japanese business practices offer the rest of the world… Continue Reading…