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Preparing Your Organization to Go Global: The World Is Waiting.
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Tuesday, 4th February 2014

What a world we live in - transitioning into a new era, a time of change and uncertainty, a world in which previous obstacles of distance and borders are eroding and new cultural identities are emerging.

Making airline reservations for a destination three hours away, resulted in a conversation with a reservationist in London. While exchanging defective luggage at the mall around the corner, I was informed that if this transaction had been completed on their website, I would have received the new luggage the next day (before the plane departed). The helpful salesperson informed that my in-store exchange will require that the luggage arrive from their warehouse across town in five to seven business days. I will be back from my trip to receive it.

Increasingly, boundaries between cultures are becoming vague. International travel, global media, and communications are links to a world in which everyone is always accessible. In today's world, it is rarely spoken, "I'm sorry, you were unsuccessful locating her. She is unavailable, out of the country on an assignment, and therefore cannot be reached." Traditional boundaries between technology and culture are disappearing. Globalization, technology and social systems impact our interconnectedness.

A borderless economy presents new challenges and new opportunities within organizations. Today we live in a world swiftly becoming deeply global, requiring us to quickly make a difference.

Stop and look around. Look at your organization and look at yourself. It is no longer a question of whether your organization should "go global", but what adaptations are needed when it goes global? How will organizational leaders adjust to the socio-technical systems to accommodate a new way of doing business? What are the potential barriers that will need to be overcome to gain a competitive advantage? How will your organization handle increased complexity of ambiguities and uncertainties?

This article answers these questions by addressing the following:

  • Adapt -tailoring actions to specific cultural contexts
  • Adjust - incorporating socio-technical systems accommodating a new way
  • Access - rising above barriers that hinder globalization
  • Act - meeting the global challenge by taking action
Can we achieve our organizational goals in different cultural situations? Yes. We must be prepared to adapt appropriately in a range of cross-cultural situations.

For example, the woman from China at the Wal-Mart did not respond when the new line opened and the clerk shouted, "next in line, aisle six is now open"! In this situation, the verbal tone in which the message was delivered has different meanings across cultures. In a world of cultural diversity and crossing borders, acknowledging and adapting to differences is increasingly important, and will be a competitive advantage for the organization that adapts.

The 21st century global organization must be well-organized and able to adapt to an environment of crossing cultural boundaries. While it might sound strange, it is essential to know when to adapt to another culture and when to avoid doing so.

Adaptation often involves possessing a flexibility that is tailored for a specific cultural context. Effective global leaders recognize that while the demands of today's intercultural environments make it impractical to know all the dos and don'ts of multiple cultures, there are certain behaviors that should be modified when we interact with other cultures. The Wal-Mart check-out experience could have been received differently if the clerk spoke to the customer in line before going to her assigned register.

Adjust - incorporating socio-technical systems accommodating a new way

As global leaders you must adjust from viewing the environment and organization as a predictable and self-reliant entity to adjusting to a time of more global interdependence.

Successful leaders will make this paradigm adjustment in order to manage a systemic organization; being aware of the entire system, not only parts. Just as parts of the human body are unable to fully function independently, such is so for the successful organization.

A systematic effort captures the diversity and the full range of the organization. Increasing global interdependence is analogous to a team. The team possesses numerous talents but pursues the same goal. Team members function as the organs and muscles in the body. The body represents a cybernetic organism continuously aware of the environment via the five senses.

The internal environment reports hunger while the external environment conveys cold. The body utilizes the information to adjust in order to survive and to thrive. Is your organization responding to the information given and making the necessary adjustments to thrive in today's global environment?

Access - rising above barriers that hinder globalization

In order to rise above any potential barrier, it is necessary to know what to do as well as what not to do. This is true for global leaders. There is a shortage of global leaders. How can organizations access and develop individuals. What are the barriers to achieving global leadership?

Don't avoid opportunities to gain knowledge. Never allow "I don't know" be your final answer.

Do be inquisitive. Global leaders gain knowledge by doing something, not by waiting for something to be done. Read, travel, ask questions, seek out learning opportunities; the unknown, the unexpected. Immerse yourself in other cultures.

Don't avoid uncertainty.

Do take advantage of perspective managing uncertainty. Discern when to obtain additional information and when to take action. Global leaders possess the ability to balance tensions triggered by duality. Develop many perspectives which embrace duality.

Don't conduct yourself in a manner that will tarnish your character.
Do behavior in a manner that will allow you to earn trust from others. As a global leader make efforts to connect and establish relationship. Global leaders establish relationships to promote trust and goodwill. Additionally, do hold high ethics and protect your integrity; both inside and outside of the organization.

Don't miss opportunities.

Do recognize global market opportunities for the organization. Successful global leaders know how to capitalize on these opportunities. Global leader must access all resources of the global organization. Develop value for your organization by acknowledging global market opportunities and knowing how to get the most out of them.

Rise above barriers that hinder globalization in your organization. Your inquisitiveness, perspective, character, and savvy can have a major impact on the value you establish for your organization. Don't let anything get in your way. Do make a difference.

Act - meeting the global challenge by taking action

Organization of the 21st century must be prepared to embrace a sense of exploration and an openness to innovation in ways never experienced before.

You've had the opportunity to stop and look at yourself and at the world around you. That exercise required a mirror, a computer, and a phone. You never had to leave home to be in touch with the world. The time of reflection cannot be a time of rest.

Adapting requires you to tailor your actions to specific cultural contexts in this diverse world we live and work. The time is now to adjust from viewing the environment and organization as a predictable and self-reliant entity to adjusting to a time of more global interdependence. You do have access to the characteristics to be a global leader impacting the world; look in the mirror! Act - meeting the global challenge by taking action

Globalization, technology and social systems have great affect on our lives. Today's leaders must look at the whole world and develop strategies and characteristics that work across borders. Are you allowing traditional boundaries prevent you from overcoming barriers to reach your vision? Are you ready to lead your organization globally? The time is now to meet the global challenge. Rapidly, that world is changing around you. Successful global leaders won't miss this opportunity.

Where in the world are you? It's time to take action! The world is waiting!

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