Global Organizations

History has not prepared us for the challenges of change that we experience today. A globalized economy creates both more difficulties and more opportunities for us, forcing organizations to make radical changes – not only to compete and prosper, but sometimes to merely survive.

Change interventions that work in one country do not always succeed elsewhere. Culture affects not only the preparedness to change, but also how change itself is perceived and implemented. Cultures vary in their beliefs about how change occurs, and their level of comfort with change.

This influences the motivation to change. It influences the whole change process as such – how we learn new concepts, new meanings for old concepts, and new standards for judgment, and how we internalize the new concepts, meanings and standards.

Global leaders may have to adapt their own change-related behavior to match the cultural scripts used in different locations, find ways to leverage cultural differences, and contextualize the change in ways that are appropriate for different cultures.

In Edgar Schein’s recent book Humble Inquiry, he describes an approach of authentic listening, asking question, being curious, and describing before diagnosing – as ordinary as these actions might sound, we often disregard them or don’t take time for them.  Identifying the vital behaviors and mindsets that when changed will bring us in the right direction distinguish between failure and success … in particular in a global setting.

Ways we can help you:

  • organizational concept development
  • vision and strategy implementation, e.g., balance scorecard
  • scenario planning
  • cultural consequence analysis in relation to merger and acquisitions

Global R&D Organizations

Globally dispersed organizations are well aware of the hidden treasures of ideas and capabilities for innovation. However, when it comes to global innovation projects it has proven harder than expected to develop those ideas or to make them possible.

Experience has shown that what works for innovation projects conducted in a single location does not necessarily work for ones dispersed across multiple sites around the world. The successful management of multi-site innovation projects relies on having globally competent managers with a good understanding of the organization and the ability to work across global sites.

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What is capacity building?

Capacity of an R&D organization is the ability to access/create, transfer and integrate knowledge.

The knowledge needed for innovation in any given sector is increasingly dispersed across different consumer markets, industries and emerging hot spots, and the rate of this knowledge diffusion is growing rather than dissipating.

A major challenge is that innovation is increasingly relying on the input of multiple dispersed sources of tacit knowledge, ranging from location-specific competences to local customer insights.

How do we access knowledge?

Organizations tend to approach global innovation based on the assumption that the only way to access tacit knowledge is through co-location, and that only explicit, codified knowledge is suitable for accessing and integrating in a dispersed R&D organization. This assumption limits the capacity to innovate.

The pressure to access knowledge that is more dispersed has led companies to simplify that knowledge – to structure, codify, and standardize their knowledge so it can be integrated across more sites, and as a result, be more accessible.

How is knowledge creation influence by a global context?

“What is honored in a culture will be cultivated there,” is a saying attributed to Aristotle; the context either facilitates or inhibits creativity. Original ideas, processes and products are more easily accepted and promoted when they adhere to the framework of the local culture - a culture, which shapes who we are, our behavior, and as a result, our creativity.

The process of creating knowledge is highly influenced by our culture and cultural context and differs from one culture to another. For example, in Scandinavia, creativity is considered an attitude towards life and a way of dealing with the challenges life poses. In China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, there has in general been a tradition of devaluing creativity.

What are the challenges in transferring and integrating knowledge in global R&D organizations?

The ability to access and create knowledge around the world has limited value without the capacity to transfer and integrate that knowledge across a R&D organization.

Transferring explicit codified knowledge across multiple sites in a global R&D organization can be a challenge; however, for most organizations sharing tacit knowledge is the bigger challenge.

Tacit knowledge is rooted in behavior, norms, values, interactions, and systemic relationships - all very specific to the local environment. Tacit knowledge can, for example, be what we consider good design practice, and what a good leader is. It is most efficiently transferred through projects, apprenticeship, action learning and on-the-job training. Tacit knowledge is probably the most valuable element of a global R&D organizaton and where the real competitive advantage is located.

One of the most common barriers that companies experience when attempting to connect and transfer knowledge between locations in a global R&D network, are cultural. The successful transfer and integration of knowledge relies on having globally competent managers with a good understanding of the organization.

A Continuous Innovation Culture

In a global context where innovation and creativity is focused on individual customers, the capacity to continuously innovate and improve a network of resources and efficiently transform knowledge to create value is key to success.

Does your organization have the capacity to continuously innovate?

By carefully designing a global network of resources and developing the ability to reconfigure access to these resources, your organization will have the capacity to create unique value with individual customers.

To do this, you have to continuously scout for resources and transfer and integrate these through a collaborative global network. Collaborative networks are influenced – or managed – through a shared framework of customer service, established standards and customer interfaces.

It is all about flexibly and efficiently leveraging a global base of competent global resources.

Ways we can help you:

  • network analysis and integration
  • resource scouting.

Do you have the capacity to collaborate across culture and time zones in a seamless global network?

The flexibility and efficiency of a global network depends largely on cross-cultural collaboration. The capacity to collaborate across cultures and time zones needs to be supported at an individual, social and systemic level.

Ways we can help you:

  • global competencies and assessment
  • coaching and training
  • a change of supportive systems – rewards, recognition, and so on.

How flexible and efficient is your business processes?

Clearly documented, transparent and resilient processes are a must if you are to allow for continuous reconfiguration of resources. The processes in a global network need to be geared toward handling large resources with the individual customer in mind; they need to be highly flexible and highly efficient.

‘Continuous innovation’ at all levels is central in developing processes and ‘time to performance’.

Ways we can help you:

  • performance support and consulting
  • learning environment assessment and development
  • GE workout process
  • design thinking.

What is your process for continuous business innovation?

People at all levels in your organization should be learning to be ‘experimentalists’ who naturally think about ways to analyze and develop new approaches that can improve the business. It is up to them to encourage enthusiasm and support from colleagues in order to achieve results.

If you maintain focus on creating thinking and value, you will get back to what matters most – what the individual customer needs.

Ways we can help you:

  • design thinking
  • creative processes
  • process facilitation.
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