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Cultivating Global Awareness

In his book, The Work of Nations, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich succinctly captured the   import of globalization: "We are living through a transformation that   will rearrange the politics and economies of the coming century. There   will be no national products or technologies, no national corporations,   no national industries. There will no longer be national economies." 

The   IT sector is clearly at the forefront of this trend in its product   development and business strategies, and its polyglot, moveable   workforce is exuberantly global.

This   makes possible a global perspective that can draw on the best   technological ideas, business approaches and organizational practices   available anywhere. But are high-technology product and service   companies reaping the full benefit of this enviable position? Is the   potential for creative synergy from the international diversity of   backgrounds and perspectives being fully tapped? Is a global mindset   being sufficiently cultivated at all levels so that the entire workforce   is aligned behind the global business vision and strategy?

On   the ground, there is strong evidence to the contrary. While the faces   come from everywhere, and the economic impact is global, outlooks and   attitudes are often surprisingly parochial. Instead of "thinking   globally and acting locally," what is more common is "thinking locally   and acting globally."

In   consulting for high-technology companies, I have been frequently   surprised by low levels of international awareness among employees, poor   communication of global vision from the top, and the presence of   cultural stereotypes and cultural sub-group segregation. This is a cause   of concern, as the realization of a global strategy cannot fully   succeed if mindsets are not global.

Here   are some practices which successful companies have used to increase   their employees' global awareness and commitment to a global vision:

  1. Communicate information and news about the company's international operations.
  2. Encourage international travel, attendance at international conferences and taking courses on international topics.
  3. Host speakers (internal or external) on global topics.
  4. Organize "passport day" presentations about specific countries represented in the company.
  5. Acknowledge and celebrate international and ethnic holidays.
  6. Create an electronic bulletin board for sharing information and questions about international matters.
  7. Invest time in cross-cultural learning and team-building experiences.
  8. Identify the global thinkers in the company and create a team to promote the global awareness agenda.

Such strategies will help you achieve competitive advantage through developing a workforce that is not just diverse, but cosmopolitan in outlook and knowledgeable about the global dimensions of the industry and the world regions in which the company operates.

© Karine Schomer. All Rights Reserved. Originally published in Siliconindia. Permission to reprint is granted, provided the article and byline are printed intact, with all links visible and made live if distributed in electronic form.

Karine Schomer, PhD is President of Change Management Consulting & Training, LLC, and leads The CMCT India Practice, specializing in cross-cultural training and management consulting for doing business with India, competitive advantage through cross-cultural awareness, business etiquette and protocols, cross-cultural communication and teamwork skills, outsourcing management best practices, and offshore team leadership strategies. For more learning resources, check The Working and Managing Across Cultures Blog.