The history of strategy, and why international strategic plans fail on a local level
It's a story repeated across the world. A renowned and successful CEO is taking his company to new localities internationally and has developed what appears to be a winning global strategy. Soon after launching new offices we find that this strategy is failing at a local level. Bad execution hinders the organization from achieving local success because of a global strategy that failed to factor cultural differences. The reasons cited by local managers are common.
"It's different here"
"Head office doesn't understand what we need"
"It's a relationship thing"
The reality is that more companies fail than succeed when translating a global plan into local success. Today, we are going to help you understand how to prevent a similar fate, by clearing up some misconceptions about strategy and its implementation in an Inter-Cultural Environment.
Strategy was initiated in the military. It was based on large numbers of people controlled by standard operating procedures, with a very clear understanding of rank and hierarchy. The military's corporate culture gives those involved a sense of belonging, of camaraderie and brotherhood, which ultimately delivers a unified goal or sees the team pay the ultimate price trying to deliver.
Global business has seen strategy taken into a world where employees live in different countries and collaborate virtually across teams, departments, functions and sometimes multiple organizations. Leaders deal with employees who are more outspoken, more knowledgeable and want to have a voice in the organization. There is little focus on creating a united front or a corporate culture that transcends all offices and staff. Indeed corporate culture is often linked to local culture.
This lack of one overriding corporate culture is particularly evident in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and scenarios where local companies go global or where global companies break into a new local space. It is also true for organizations that have to operate in cosmopolitan multicultural environments.
The investment needed to execute strategy in these circumstances is disjointed and the corporate culture, which was established in a Mono-Cultural Environment no longer works in the Inter-Cultural Environment of global business.
The missing partner: Why strategy and corporate culture must go hand-in-hand
Harvard research states that good leaders are not necessarily the ones who take strategy and turn it into success through vision, mission, values, goals and objective. Rather, they are the ones that can manage the polarities of the global space. This can only be done when corporate culture is taken seriously.'
At KnowledgeWorkx we fully support this thinking and believe that strategy must be supported by a strong corporate culture. Corporate culture is needed to bring people together, to align them and help them overcome seeming opposites in compatibilities. Corporate Culture has inadvertently become a game of global leadership, and it plays a major part in the making a global corporate strategy successful on a local level.
But of course this is not as easy as it sounds. Where companies often fall short is when they try to take existing corporate cultures into another cultural setting. It is in these scenarios that the local culture ends up coexisting with the global corporate culture, but without success, because the individuals at the heart of the organization feel a confused sense of belonging and cannot live in synergy with the global corporate culture. In this coexistence, the corporate culture of the organization is still too foreign for our taste. We escape at the first opportunity, create our own culture within teams, build our own cultural islands, and live in our own separate domains.
Corporate Culture has gained increasing attention over the years, mostly because it is seen as a form of Social Capital which retains high performers. Without corporate culture there is no sense of belonging, no glue to bind multiple locations to a single purpose and hold them together. A well-developed Corporate Culture is the glue that will ensure your organization succeeds where others fail.
The next parts of this series will address some of the challenges and benefits of creating a global corporate culture.
To begin your culture learning journey, Contact us or get our mini-ebook: Inter-Cultural Intelligence: from surviving to thriving in the global space.