DNA of a Global Leader, Written by Phil Ventresca, M.B.A.

Globalization, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Diversity, Multicultural, Multinational…and the list of descriptors goes on.

Businesses today are struggling with establishing a true identity in an ever changing global market. Whether they have revenue generating businesses outside of their domestic geography or utilize teams and resources in a virtual configuration, the bottom-line is that most are feeling the pain of becoming global.

Over the past fifteen years, technology, market demand, and talent accessibility has forced many organizations to seek relationships outside of their domestic borders. This widening of their footprint has created challenges such as talent acquisition/management, infrastructure support, and general cultural intelligence.

Organizations succeeding in the global market have paid close attention to the people, process, and technology that make up the DNA of their existence. Successful globalization efforts are most commonly focused on the knowledge that any single component of the DNA strand will not support a global business model alone. Thus, companies are paying attention to assessing their global needs, existing business infrastructure, and talent pools to ensure they are aligned and capable of meeting the requirements of a sustainable model.

Regardless of the company’s future goals, they must ascertain a current state in order to benchmark and determine the gaps necessary to close. Just as importantly, they need a clear picture of what their future looks like, which should support the organization’s strategic plan.

Thought Leadership:

  1. Are we global or multi-national?
  2. Do we need/want to be global and what are the business drivers to support it?
  3. Do we have the infrastructure and execution model to support a global shift?
  4. Is the need to become global mission critical?
  5. Do we have a valid, visible, and feasible strategic plan to support the change required to be global?
  6. Does the talent pool have the depth and sustainability to interact globally?
  7. Do we have the information technology to support the global processes and resources we will need?
  8. Have we prepared business continuity, succession, and sustainability plans to support a global shift?
  9. Have we considered geo-political and macro-economic risk factors in crafting the strategic shift?
  10. Have we drafted a change management plan to support the transformation?

The above questions will help to set a foundation of best practices in place to ensure the migration to a global enterprise is organized, measurable, and sustainable.

Not all companies need to operate globally at the same level. In fact, there is nothing that says we cannot isolate business and, for that matter, products that represent a more global footprint than others. This is the essence of a modern and agile organization. Where companies fall short in this model is at the initial needs assessment and planning phases. Many times, we find ourselves trying to manage “off-shore” operations, geo-specific Lines of Businesses and/or virtual resources without the appropriate tools or training to do so. Thus, we see loss of productivity, attrition, and project failures at a much higher percentage.

Unfortunately, these management failures are usually attributed to the global and cultural aspects of the environment, rather than assessing a deeper root cause. Regardless of your location on the planet, your purpose and your mission, all companies need a plan that aligns the DNA.

Once you have contemplated the answers to the aforementioned questions, in a thoughtful and strategic way, the following could be seen as tools to promote the change required to become more competitive in a global market.

 Action items:

  1. Create a benchmark to perform a global readiness assessment of your company.
  2. Create a matrix to validate your strategic needs at a global level.
  3. Create a talent management plan to support global expansion.
  4. Create a technology plan that will support global expansion at an enterprise level.

 Implementation:

    1. People: Ensure you have the appropriate training in place to align your human capital with the current and projected needs of the business. Focus on the leadership elements of their competency model first, with a close consideration given to the impact of change and adaptability.
    2. Process: Validate that your business process will support enterprise scalability across boundaries which may have varied regulatory, technology, and infrastructure models.
    3. Technology: Test your systems to ensure they meet local requirements, accommodate agile scenarios, and can easily bridge local/global connectivity.

The Plan:

So where do we start? Some organizations can easily identify the gaps and thus point toward solutions with more clarity. These are usually the companies who have ventured down the path of change beyond the 50% mark and can see their goals clearly. However, that is not the case for all companies and honestly, not the majority. Due to the pace of change and the turbulence of the global market-place, many companies struggle to get a foothold.

If you find yourself in that category the best prescription is to follow the ten questions presented in this article. The output of that exercise will help to create a baseline for further discussion with your leadership team.

Far too many times, we see companies going global for the sake of catching the wave. Truth be told, each business is different and the approach to establishing the best forward path must also be unique. The topic of globalization is vast and complex, far too complex to serve it justice in a 1500 word article. That being said, the comments found in this article are built on practical experiences and represent the best and worst of what we have seen clients come across.

It is my hope that you will be able to leverage these points as a starting point for thought discussion, and then, the real world begins!

Research

  1. Boudreaux, Donald. “Globalization”. Greenwood, 2007.
  2. Beer, Lawrence. “Tracing the Roots of Globalization and Business Principles”. Business Expert Press, 2011.
  3. Wall, Stuart. “International Business”. Prentice Hall, 2005.