To Be or Not to Be: That's the Question

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
It seems Hamlet is not alone with his whim. Born from a genius mind four centuries ago, it still holds true to describe one of the most difficult process for any human being: Decision Making. It can be as complex as a multinational acquisition or as simple as what to have for dinner.
Perhaps the key difference between Hamlet's days and today's world lies in globalisation. Thus the decision making process calls for additional skills not required in past. Yet these skills come with the limited burden as it halts at the cross road when it comes to answering the question "to be or not to be global".
To be "global" turn out to be a "must" for those who want to be part of a grander world scenario. Managers and leaders were charged with the task of designing international integration while they faced the multifaceted challenges of handling and preserving nation's uniqueness.
On the one side, there's foreign integration of new products, consuming habits, choices and preferences inserted into a native culture. On the other side, local companies sharing the same market with new players, looking for foreign partners and investors, or going out to explore new markets and doing the same as foreigners are doing in their territory.
The game has changed and rules as well. Global players need to find the most effective way to build bridges in order for people to understand the major issue is: diversity. The path is definitely not the one that restricts diversity, differences and cross cultural scenario to a simple choice of "do or don't". It is not Hamlet's choice of to do or not to do. Business protocols serve as a guide but life and human behavior are not as simple as this.

Business's need to develop cross cultural competences in this global era; why? The answer is simple indeed: to survive. McDonald's had to do it to survive in India or France; Disney had a very painful lesson with Euro Disney today Disneyland Paris and L'Oreal had to develop product for tanning in West cultures and for "whitening" in Asian cultures. Unfortunately Wal-Mart did not understand this in Germany and did not survive.
Companies need leaders culturally tuned to other cultures. If organisations look inward to sell their goods and services, in a very short time they will be displaced by cross cultural structures capable of understanding different time management, the importance of relationships in business, the meaning of silence in negotiation and how to reconcile dilemmas that naturally arise where diversity is the main guest, just to give few examples.
Countries need governors with a global mindset given that they are responsible of steering laws and economics policies. They are responsible of Free Trade Agreements and are the ones called to lead the way towards fair integration.
Whether you are in Asia, Europe or Latin America challenge remains the same. You are called to lead your company and to develop cultural competences otherwise opportunities you miss will be your competitor's biggest fortune.
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