Culturally Agile Organizations

Here are examples of companies who are really culturally agile and doing very well.

One is the bank HSBC. For example, when they go into a country first of all they get as much local staff as possible and as much local talent. They develop it very well. But when they send their managers there, their managers stay for decades. Most other companies have a two to three year rotational cycle. For example, German companies. They move into a new country, they are trained by the local staff in local culture and how to do things and then about two to three years into it right when they are really understanding it they get sent back so all of that investment into them understanding it is then taken out and the local staff just gets drained and demotivated by having to do it all over again.

Another example of a company who is very culturally agile in doing things very well is IBM. When IBM, for example, entered China they went over with Singaporeans and American-born Chinese as much as possible. Then they invested very heavily in developing their local talent and they have quite a string of mainline Chinese who are in charge of things. It is actually fairly rare to see someone who is not Chinese in IBM. The other thing where they have gone further beyond their leadership in management is they are localizing their value chains. They are localizing all of their operations to be relevant to the country that they are in. Everyone in the organization has a high level of individual cultural agility. The organization as a whole communicates so one thing doesn’t happen in one country that other people don’t understand. Then finally they localize. IBM is localizing their value chain, meaning that they have specialized logistics, procurement, manufacturing, sales, distribution, service, and support, which are all relevant to the country that they are active in. They are not just taking one global system and imposing it everywhere because quite honestly that is not effective.

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Who Needs To Pay Attention To Cultural Profit

When you look at who must buy into this concept - executives, employee staff members, vendors, customers – really everyone on your team needs to buy into this. Customers are bought in on their own. They have their own cultural approaches that they may or may not be aware of but that is not their business to do this. It is really yours as the executives, the staff members, and down on through to vendors. So it is important that they buy into this concept and that they get good at these skills, however it is to varying degrees.

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Three Questions To Ask Yourself When Determining Who Needs To Be Culturally Agile

The first question is, are they customer facing? Are they sales, marketing, executives, customer service, customer support? The other thing too is any vendor who provides services that are customer facing can be as simple as the people who are providing marketing materials, who are providing collateral materials or art so you don’t have to go out and educate every single time. You have a team that is across the board that has these skills of cultural agility.

The second question to ask about who needs to be most culturally agile is, are they working with cross-border teams? Obviously these people really, really need to be culturally agile. You find these people a lot in operations. They are managing virtual teams at every aspect of the organization and this can even be in retail.

The third question to ask when you are determining who needs to be most culturally agile is, are they regulated formally? If they are a group, say finance, who has a legal regulations on top of them they probably don’t need a ton of cultural agility. They need to be aware of the law and so that group you might be able to say not as important as the other ones.

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How Do You Strengthen The Culture In An Organization

I am often asked how organizations can strengthen their culture in terms of cultural agility and that is a bit of putting the cart before the horse. The key element is to strengthen the skill of cultural agility.

There are six skills for cultural agility: Awareness, attuned, adapting, authentic, acquiring knowledge, and assessing.

Awareness: The first question there is, “Are you aware of your own cultural biases?

Attuned: Are you able to hear and acknowledge the cultural nuances that are going on around you?

Adapting: That is adapting your communication and behavior in subtle and even overt ways in order to be better received and to create a better relationship with the people who you want to be working with.

Authentic: While you are making these adaptations, while you are listening and everything like that it is important to be true to yourself. Be who you are as a person in order to be able to invite the other person to be who they are as a person. We are not talking about putting something onto ourselves when we are talking about adapting.

Assessing: Assessing how we are doing now, what is our next way to grow as far as cultural agility is concerned, how can we better do this?

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How To Mitigate The Risks Of Growth

There are two main dangers in growth and one is not taking the risks of growth seriously enough and sort of shooting from the hip and ending up down the path plowing through all of these different problems and risking your brand, risking customer engagement, losing your customer base and finding an inability to grow. That is if you don’t take it too seriously.

On the other hand, taking the risks of growth too seriously to the point of being paralyzed. Holding on so tightly and so fearful of growth that competitors fly past you and eat up what market share you do have while you hold on to a diminishing customer base.

There is however a golden middle between these and it can be navigated very, very well. It takes the preparation, it takes the agility, and it takes the fluidity in order to be able to respond to things as they are happening but have a guide. Have these things thought through in advance. Have swift resolution teams. Do all of these things and then your growth can be truly extraordinary and you can then have the exit or the future that you want.

  1. Find Talented Employees
  2. Increase Global Presence
  3. Manage Cash Flow
  4. Follow Best Practice For Success
  5. Leadership for a Healthy Culture
  6. Invest In Technology
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Why Political Conversations Are So Volatile

I admit that it would be unfair to fire the people working for us without giving them the tools for professional development, so here it goes. The main skill that would vastly improve political communication is cultural agility. Culturally agile leadership is the ability to create highly functioning relationships with anyone anywhere by quickly understanding and adeptly responding to differing cultural assumptions. The recipe is simple:

1. Be curious enough to understand the assumptions and contexts   that other people are working from, without imposing your own personal judgment.

2. Be self-aware about your own cultural biases.

3. Adapt your communication to be relevant to the people you want to communicate with.

This doesn’t mean everyone suddenly agrees on everything. It does, however, infuse communication with a healthy dose of rational humility. This is desperately needed to successfully run an organization that’s the size of the U.S. government.

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2 Steps To Getting Lean Enough To Succeed

There are things that we carry around in our organizations and in our mentality that make things more cumbersome than they need to be. Treat your leadership like you would treat a manufacturing floor and get leaner now. Here’s the two fastest ways to achieve this.

Come out of hiding. 

Many people avoiding sticky issues saying that they like to allow time to let things work out on their own. Sure, that could be a legitimate hands-off leadership approach, but it can also be the mantra of procrastination or worse, avoidance. The problem is that a leader who avoids making decisions is also giving up control. By addressing the issue directly and not avoiding, there was less stress on everyone involved and a better outcome was created.

Move on, even when you’re right. 

Far too often I see leaders get tangled up in pursuing a matter on principle. This can be as tangible as money they’re rightfully owed, or as conceptual as an acknowledgement of error.

In the end, it’s about being right and getting admission from the person who has wronged them. The question is how far they’re willing to win. If the best revenge is living well, then the ultimate loss is being driven by anger, frustration, and bitterness no matter how things turn out in the end.

Letting go of money is certainly a big deal, but bad debt is also the cost of doing business. Tally up the hours spent pursuing it in thought and action, then add that cost to whatever effort you put into earning the money in the first place through your goods and services. It may be a hefty amount.

Now add in the very significant cost of placing your focus on the past instead of the future. You may find that you can make up the bad debt and more by pursuing new business and creating new opportunities. Now the cost of pursuit becomes staggering.

I’m not advocating walking away from a tough situation–that would be avoiding. Instead my message is to fight for a while, then assess the situation pragmatically and move on when the time is right. You’ll definitely feel better and your performance will improve when you let go of old injuries. I’ve never had a client do this and regret giving up being angry too soon. The opposite is far too often the case.

If you’re in this kind of situation now, I recommend doing the following: figure out your ideal outcome; assess the lengths to which you’re willing to pursue it; create a measurement so you know when you’re reached the point of diminishing returns; and if you hit it, then move on.

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6 Steps To Outperforming Your Competition In A Lukewarm Recovery

These are the 6 steps to outperform your competition in this economy:

  1. Be an Agile Leader
  2. Execute a Crystal-Clear Strategy
  3. Leverage New Capital Sources
  4. Hire Aggressively
  5. Boldly Develop Your People
  6. Go Global

When all is said and done, outperforming your competition in the recovery really boils down to four actions.

• Get clear. Develop a crystal-clear strategy and direction that’s integrated into the organization.

• Get moving. Implement the strategy every day at every level of the organization.

• Get better. Lead an organization faced with extreme ambiguity with agility. Accelerate your organizations’ trajectory by hiring and developing the best people.

• Get expansive. Embrace opportunities that may have been overlooked in the past.

This may not be the recovery we hoped for, but it is, nonetheless, rife with opportunity. Will your competition make the most of it? Will you?

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Are You Surrounding Yourself With Fools? (You Should Be.)

The global marketplace is incredibly competitive. The top of the corporate pyramid gets pretty narrow. Generations of authoritative monarchs were enlightened enough to understand the value of Fools, how about you? Take a good look at the people you surround yourself with. Who do you trust to give you the kind of feedback that can shake you to your core and set you on the right track? Who has actually done this for you in the last three months? If you cannot name at least two people, or don’t see the point, then I’m afraid you may be playing yourself as the fool.

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Around the Block or Around the World

I was having trouble finding what I was looking for on recent visit to a Target store, so I asked a woman stocking the shelves for help. She also couldn’t find the elusive item, then asked a number of her colleagues for their assistance.

It’s a normal scene in customer service, except there was one difference. She was only speaking English with me—all conversations with her fellow Target employees were in Spanish.

When the topic of cultural agility comes up, most people assume it is only needed to work across national borders. “Intranational” cultural differences are seen as the domain of “diversity,” where managers are trained to include everyone’s different viewpoints to make a stronger team.

This experience at my local hometown Target highlights the significant cultural borders that managers and business leaders must skillfully navigate in order to lead high performing teams. These are the same cultural agility skills whether the team is spread around the world or around the store.

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