Maybe it isn’t that contentious a statement after all because what you are actually saying when moving to an ISSC model is that ‘we think we can make things run more smoothly and more efficiently by taking operations out of the country which they service and replace the operations of 10 countries, 10 different business cultures and 10 languages within 1 remote location’. The process sounds complex to me but, having worked on dozens of these transitions over the years, the mindset seems to be that these issues will sort themselves out somehow over time.
It is telling that in every single example where Global Business Culture has been called in to help with cultural problems at a major ISSC, we have been called into the frame well after the transition has happened – nobody seems to want to look at these issues in advance for some reason despite the fact that so much academic research and pure anecdotal evidence point to cultural differences as the key stumbling block.
Many managers suddenly find that they are, almost overnight, transitioned from a position where all of their reports are in one country, speak one language and have one culture to a position where they are having to deal with a mass of different and new cultural approaches. They are seldom ever given any help in addressing these issues and then negatively appraised on how they are doing.
People are expected to abandon the way in which they do things for a new approach that they don’t understand or agree with and which will often ride rough-shod over cultural attitudes and expectations. Actually that is almost the key objective of undertaking an ISSC project in the first place – to iron out all those costly differences in approach and process and replace them with a single, ‘better’ system. There may well be logic and efficiencies in the new process (almost definitely there will be) but if this transition is badly handled, the resentment ensuing will very, very quickly negate any benefit accrued.
In-country contacts built over many years are replaced with new colleagues in a distant location with very few, if any, opportunities to build the all-important relationships which can help to smooth out problems which inevitably arise during and after transition. This problem is often exacerbated through the use of nameless ‘ticketing’ systems that mean most issues are handled by multiple (nameless and faceless) hands at the ISSC.
This is a perennial problem at most ISSC’s and one which increases the difficulty of the relationship-building process. After the initial adrenalin rush of the ISSC start-up phase, the work often settles down into a routine and humdrum process and then people simply get bored and move on. This can lead to more inefficiency as new people are on-boarded and tensions between the ISSC and the home teams can slowly rise as a result.
I could enumerate many other areas of potential tension and inefficiencies but what is important is that all of these issues are addressed either before transition or as the difficulties arise, rather than trying to pretend they don’t exist or will disappear through osmosis.
You can address these issues through timely and targeted interventions and if any of these issues ring true to you and you would like to see how we could help, contact me at email@example.com
A recent Boston Consulting Group report highlighted the capability gap companies are faced with when trying to achieve their global ambitions. The work Global Business Culture has done over the past 15 years or so with companies going through this globalisation process would fully support the findings of this report which highlights a number of key deficiencies. Our assertion would be that one of the core knowledge gaps (if not the key knowledge gap) companies struggle with is a lack of understanding of the profound effect local cultural business approaches can have on the delivery of any global strategy.
When going through this globalisation process I’m afraid you just have to face two unassailable realities:
The BCG report highlights three key areas of concern:
I have seen all of these problems happening time after time, year after year with monotonous regularity. Globalisation is a mindset not a word. Understand your own view of the world, your counter-parties’ view of the world and where the similarities and differences are. The similarities are the points of contact where you can build bridges and forge efficient common practices; the differences need to be acknowledged and worked on.
Deep cultural understanding is a ‘must’ not a ‘nice to have’ – but then I suppose I would say that wouldn’t I?
If you would like to discuss how Global Business Culture can help your business work more effectively in a culturally complex world, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As more and more companies organise themselves in regional or even global structures, the need for some form of global bench-marking of performance becomes ever more pressing – but is it really possible to have one system that can accurately grade performance in the USA, China and Nigeria?
The problems start to arise as soon as you try to set benchmarks for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in any interpersonal situation. The complexities of global cultural differences mean that what is considered poor behaviour in one country is likely to be viewed positively in another:
So who chooses what is deemed to be ‘good’ behaviour and what a corporation wants to encourage in its employees? In my experience it is usually the Head Office who calls the shots and who decides positive from negative, good from bad – and then fails to understand when it is accused of latter-day colonialism.
How globally savvy and well-equipped with cultural knowledge and empathy are key HR team members and how open are they to a challenge to some of their basic beliefs in this area?
These are all difficult questions but ones that need addressing. The Mercer survey of 2013, stated that only 3% of respondents from a sample of 1056 global companies said their current appraisal systems were delivering value – so something is obviously not working at the moment.
If you would like to understand how Global Business Culture can help your HR team develop the necessary levels of cultural fluency to tackle this issue effectively, please contact me at email@example.com
Like all markets, China plays by its own rules. Some sales approaches that work well in your own country might completely fail in a market as unique as China – on the other had some might work really well. So, is it just a question of trying everything that works at home and analysing the results to determine what the best approach might be in China or are there any sales techniques that are generally better regarded than others?
Here’s a quick overview of what we have found succeeds in China when working with a range of major global clients across multiple sectors:
What lessons can we draw from this and what advice do we give to clients? China is potentially a highly lucrative market which could redefine the future direction of you company if you get it right. However, China needs time, patience and cashflow – the sales cycle in China can be long and you need stamina, management bandwidth, local knowledge and cash to achieve lasting success.
If you’d like to go into any of these issues in more depth please get in touch, firstname.lastname@example.org
There is little doubt that India will be one of the most exciting growth markets for the next twenty years or more but turning potential into a sustainable business takes know-how and planning. Here are my top issues to consider when contemplating entering the India market:
For further information on Global Business Culture’s ‘Doing Successful Business in India’ programme contact me at email@example.com