Maximizing ROI of Globalization

In today’s global economy, the ability to work effectively across multiple cultures is no longer a bonus – it’s an essential.

If your organization is looking to stay ahead of the game, it must develop a certain “cultural agility,” recognizing and responding appropriately to a range of cultural behaviors and worldviews. These skills will allow you to enter new markets, develop new supply-chain models, and efficiently and effectively integrate as a global organization in order to have information cross boundaries successfully.

Every organization should be striving to achieve these benefits, which are collectively referred to as “cultural profit.” But how much do you have to invest, and when will you see the results?

The return on investment (ROI) for cultural agility and cultural profit is both short-term and long-term. There are four stages of developing cultural profit:

1. Aware. A lot of companies think they’re being agile by translating their website into the local language, but really, all this means is they’re aware that there are differences – the translation is a sort of nod at the different market. If this is all you do, you’re not going to get a huge amount of ROI.

2. Attuned. If you’re in the attuned stage, effectively localizing your marketing, supply chain, and management team, then you can expect increased sales, as well as some reduced costs.

3. Adapting. If you’re truly investing in the development of local staff, and leveraging the best practices of the local market, then your ability to adapt will almost certainly pay off.

4. Agile. As a culturally agile organization, you’ll see, in the long term, a transfer of relevant best practices from, and to, each country around the world that you’re working in, and you’ll have an incredible talent pool to draw from. And that long-term ROI is far-reaching and nearly immeasurable.


Which professional services do you need for international expansion?

Which professional services would you need while expanding business internationally?

There are many tactical needs you will face such as a translator, local lawyer, a good banking relationship, someone to take care of visa and passport formalities, etc… 

The most important professional service you will need are strategic advisors who are expert and local to the market you’re entering.

As recent example of why this is so critical, prior to working with us a client had been attempting to formulate a China-entry strategy with his US-based team. The strategy would never be successful because they were fundamentally cooking up just an overlay of their US strategy in another market.

It didn’t take crucial, China-specific factors into consideration.  The client simply didn’t know what he didn’t know. 

Our team was able to step in and work with the client to develop a China-relevant strategy that leveraged the pace of the market, rising competitive forces and government relationships instead of ignoring them. We even facilitated key introductions and our client is on a great path to success. 

The moral of the story is never to underestimate the importance of a genuinely local strategy.


Will you be a global failure?

Does your company have the ability to enter new markets, develop new supply-chain models, and efficiently and effectively integrate as a global organization so that information can cross boundaries successfully?

In today’s global economy, every organization should be striving to achieve these, and other, aspects of cultural profit. But what steps do you need to take to make that happen?

The way to achieve cultural profit is to learn how to recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to different behaviors and worldviews. Becoming “culturally agile” in this way will allow you to work within various cultural contexts to achieve profitability, and will ultimately lead your company to be successful in competing markets.

Establishing an organization that’s culturally agile can make all the difference when it comes to cultural profit. Everyone in the organization must buy into this concept and work to become culturally agile, but it’s especially important to work on skills development with the people who are customer facing and working with cross-border teams. The results make an enormous difference, distinguishing companies that make huge belly flops from those that are smoothly running and have much greater success.


Galvanizing Management, Team, Partners and Customers

Michelle shares her idea of “calculated charisma” – being attuned enough to those around you to light the fire to inspire and excite them. Employees that are treated well and feel that they are working to create something meaningful love to be a part of a team and work hard.


Are Startups Smaller Versions of Large Companies?

Are Startups Smaller Versions of Large Companies?

As a business consultant who works with startups and Fortune 500′s here are a few of my observations on the differences between them with an eye to management excellence for both: 
     1. Talent 
Startups attract a more entrepreneurial, passionate and risk loving talent pool who are very well networked and more difficult to retain 
Large companies attract high achievers, who embrace the challenge of making their mark in a “big pond”, they can also have a tendency to play it safer and desire more security 
     2. Leadership 
Smaller companies are more prone to the whims of the CEO. This can make them nimble and responsive, but as a counter example I’ve seen a CEO apply his big company systems on a small company and create many more task forces and key initiatives than there were employees to disastrous effect. 
Large companies test their leaders and run them through a rigorous succession process. Immature leadership and bullies can still make it to the top levels, but they are usually routed out. 
     3. Processes 
Smaller companies often make the error of adopting the formality of a larger company, which decreases flexibility through unnecessary hierarchy and bureaucracy. 
Larger companies are often plagued by processes that are really just the offshoots of turn wars and politics instead of genuine need. 

For founders running their first startups: 
     1. Be decisive, and do so with managerial maturity. Avoid being mercurial and overreacting to environmental stimuli. 
     2. Create a team not Lord of the Flies. Politics happen in every size company, don’t think you’re immune because of being small. 
     3. Cultive charisma and loyalty. Find and express the compelling intersection between meaning and money for your employees, customers and vendors. It will open doors you’ve only dreamed possible.


Increasing People’s Ability To Act Together

Michelle talks about the three elements that should be present to promote a conducive work environment. They include leadership, strategy and skills. Skills include being aware of what one likes and dislikes, being attuned to what is going on around you, and adapting to what others need as well.


Do you lead like LeBron?

This article by Michelle Randall originally appeared on To follow Michelle’s expert contributions there visit:

Business leaders are like athletes: They need to be able to adapt to rapidly changing elements in their environment and respond with speed, power, and accuracy.

Unlike in sports, however, where it’s relatively easy to perceive what your opponents or teammates are doing and respond accordingly, the things that business professionals need to pay attention to and respond to are often very subtle, and can be hidden in nuance.

That’s because, while sports require physical agility, business requires cultural agility.

In today’s global market, business leaders and organizations need to be able to work effectively across cultures. This demands a certain skillset. Business professionals need to be able to recognize, and respond appropriately, to different behaviors and worldviews in order to build strong working relationships across cultures. Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as it might sound.

When we meet on the playing field of business, we tend to dress alike, and we speak about the same things that are important to us. But this often masks the different assumptions and worldviews that we have, causing us to miss information that’s critical to building relationships and working together more effectively. Other times, we do notice cultural differences, but simply don’t know what to make of them.

If we strive to recognize cultural behaviors that we don’t understand rather than simply disregarding them, we can often work them out in our minds until we realize, “Oh, that’s what that was about.” That’s perception, which is the first step toward cultural agility.

The second part is then, how do you act? How do you know how to act in a way that will be relevant and important to the other person, and that he or she will understand and respond to favorably?

To begin, there are six key skills that will help you master cultural agility:

1) Self-awareness. Being aware of your own cultural biases, behaviors, and worldviews.

2) Being attuned to your environment, and to cultural nuances. Adjusting your behavior to harmonize the relationship – without mimicking.

3) Adapting to cultural differences and ambiguities. Being flexible to the situation.

4) Being authentic. (It’s not about putting on somebody else’s culture, but about being able to interact in a way that’s relevant and important to them.)

5) Acquiring knowledge about other cultures. Immersing yourself in the foreign culture and seeking out new experiences.

6) Continually assessing how you’re developing in each of these areas, and looking for opportunities to grow.

These skills come more naturally to some people than others. It would make sense that those who are more culturally agile are those who have traveled more, or have had more exposure to foreign countries, but that’s not always the case.

Let me give you an example. I have a client who’s from a very small town in the Deep South, where he runs a manufacturing company. He just recently got his first passport. He has no stamps in it yet, but it’s a prized possession for him. He’s never been outside of the borders of the United States, and has spent very little time outside the geographic borders of the town where he grew up. Nevertheless, he’s one of the most culturally agile people I know. He’s aware of his own biases. He’s attuned. He adapts. He’s authentic. He may not have a lot of international experience, but he’s incredibly enthusiastic and engaged and fully present with others. He has a sort of explorer spirit. When he meets new people, he looks at how they are different from him, and instead of judging them, he says, “Wow, that is really neat. How can I find out more?” That has a lot to do with cultural agility.

But cultural agility doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Most people need to work at it, continually building on their skills even after they begin to see results.

If you’re looking to succeed in this global economy, it’s time to hunker down and get serious about improving your game. Put these skills of cultural agility into action on the playing field of business, and you’ll have a real shot at taking home the gold.


Execute For Innovation

Michelle talks about creativity and execution which leads to innovation, as well as the correct type of leadership to aid the team to work towards these goals.


How much time does it take to manage employees?

What do you think is the average amount of time spent managing each employee?

Longer than 99% of managers budget for.

The number one reason new hires are unsuccessful is because their manager doesn’t devote enough time with them. It’s not because they lack desire, it’s because the managers don’t have the time themselves.
That’s why the system must support effective interactions: i.e. the number of direct reports should be kept to 3-5; expectations should be clearly articulated; accountability discussed at the outset, and hires must be made before they are needed, not after.


Busting myths about China

This blog post is a first! As many of you know, I’m very active with outbound Chinese private equity funds and high-quality Western companies seeking investment.
This post was written by my teammate, KC Yoon, and I found it a useful view that busts some myths I’ve heard far too often about China.


Some quick background- I am a Singaporean and used to be a civil servant; and currently have lived in China for the past 8 years. Singapore like China is also a”Government; command-driven” economy…..with smart governance Singapore has managed to do well. Singapore started China’s first industrial park in Suzhou some 20-30 years ago…today Suzhou is generating a GDP the equivalent or more of Singapore! That must surely tell us some key learnings..that China and the Chinese Government can adapt and adapt well.

I believe there are several unique factors and facts which will lay the foundation for a successful transformation of China into a modern global nation.

1.  The Chinese Government is more flexible than we think!- the Chinese Leadership & communist party takes its history lessons very seriously and I believe they will want future generations to view the Communist party as having brought the Chinese people from the brink of being conquered by foreign invaders; a decaying Manchurian empire in the 1949 – after the Party’s 100 year rule -by 2049- that China re-emerges as a leading global leader.

2. China is laying a stronger and broader foundation for future growth than we can see!-urbanisation of the remaining 600M rural population; driving these 600M to consume by taking away the traditional need to excessively save for healthcare and education costs-  A new healthcare regime is slowly be paved.

3. The Chinese youth are enjoying more freedom than we think!  Thanks to internet, spread of weibo/blogging..the younger generation are exposed to global news and events; with internet as their social media- rapidly forming opinions by the millions should they sense any wrong doings or unfair treatments by the elite; by the rich on the ordinary citizen- this is creating a powerful “policing” effect on society.

4. The Chinese people are more entrepreneurial and hungry for consumption that we believe!  The Chinese have always been business-minded and through history natural consumers of material goods & services..So much wealth has been created over the past 10 years by this whole generation of entrepreneurs who are now feeding the system by being investors/LPs in VC/PE Funds sprouting and growing strongly throughout China.  Already we are witnessing the hunger for luxury goods by these wealthy Chinese.

KC Yoon