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Global vs. local business

So you are planning to enter a new geographical market. Let’s say it is the Turkish market, since it was a great example in one of my recent interim management meeting. How would you proceed?

A global corporation was planning to enter the Turkish market. In previous years the market had double digit growth, and there was still unused potential. The management decided to set up a dedicated team of highly skilled people. German engineers were assigned to tackle technical issues, German sales people were networking their way through to decision makers, following leads and calling prospects. Event the CEO was German. The goal was to establish a plant in Adana. Unfortunately, the project failed. In hindsight, a culturally diversified team would have been more appropriate. Although Turks and Germans have been living together for more than 50 years in Germany, being in business with each other still imposes challenges on both sides. That is the reason why we need an international team in projects with diverse cultural backgrounds, if we want to internationalize. If we think on a global scale, we need to have a global attitude. It is truly amazing how some CEO’s walk the talk.

Just to give you a couple of examples. A company is hiring foreign experts from countries where business development is trying to push market activities. Corporate language is English. All presentations are prepared in English, although the people collaborating are Germans. Intercultural trainings are embedded in executive trainings. Now you might say, that is not rocket science. And of course it isn’t – it is rather basic. This is a best practice example of Berlin-based company.

Nevertheless, some small companies still struggle with this. In my network an MBA from the Phillipines was assigned to a project. Since it was an international project, she was assured that all communication will be held in English. She was learning German, though wasn’t fluent yet.

Step by step the team switched the language back to German, leaving her out of the conversation. Email correspondence was in German again and after a while she got so frustrated, she quit. So much for diversity in reality.