The root of “going global” isn’t an option reserved for executives at worldwide companies; it is an essential activity that every decision maker must perform to keep pace in today’s world.
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In fact, every organization is global to some extent, and it’s only a matter of understanding your individualized global experience impacts situations, opportunities, and challenges for your organization. Even if you’re only servicing a small local customer base or your staff consists of a handful of hometown citizens, your organization is being affected by geopolitical, meteorological, biological, technological and other types of trends and changes from all parts of our universe. Global awareness empowers you to proactively adapt, innovate and focus on strategic measures that drive achievement.
Case in point: To the outsider, Hong Kong-based custom-clothing shop Daniel’s Fashions doesn’t seem to be typically “global” at all. It is a single shop servicing walk-in and referral clients. A closer look into its client base consisting of people from around the world and its vendor network (worldwide regions where pricing of cotton and other raw materials is driven by weather, commerce/trade and logistical factors, political activities, and technological advancements) reveal just how the increasing interconnectivity of our global marketplace make this and all organizations global to some extent.
Fortunately for Daniel’s Fashions’ stakeholders, owner Daniel Daswani is globally aware and uses his awareness to the point where he can proactively steer his organization forward, as evidenced by his ability to speak five languages, his understanding of cross-cultural negotiations, and his focus on cultural style preferences and other external factors that keep him on top of his game. Your job is to understand what going global means to your organization and to act accordingly.
“Going global”, is a trendy catch phrase with different meanings for different people, and prompting people to use it inaccurately, thus perpetuating misconceptions. To clarify, going global is not synonymous with “international” (working or selling outside the home country), “multinational” (having representation in many nations), or even “global” (having representation of staff around the world for different types of distribution). Instead, it is a broadening leadership state of mind that improves decision making and strategies for groups, organizations, and even countries.
Global awareness is an expansive and deep understanding of various factors within the entire universe—geopolitical elections, crop yields, diseases, wars, emerging technologies, and even solar flares and tides, etc.—that can influence organizations’ ability to function presently and in the future.
After acknowledging how all businesses and nonprofits, regardless of size, reach, or location, are globally interconnected, you must increase global awareness. This can be a challenging “how-to” for leaders, since most tend to believe that the answer lies in international work or travel. Both options typically don’t expand global awareness, though; travelers usually aren’t globally aware, visiting tourist attractions without integrating into local populations, and international workers, even those who live in another country for years, aren’t likely to speak the host country’s language.
So here’s the step-by-step breakdown of a leadership tool called the Roadmap to Global Awareness* that is proven to expand global awareness:
- Receive Global Information –Expand your breadth and width of knowledge in these four foundational categories: humans/living creatures, physical environments, governances, and technologies.
- Become More Globally Aware – Assimilate the information you have gathered and continually absorb about the universe around you and increasingly utilize this raw material to connect dots, which will create new knowledge and greater global awareness.
- Develop a Broader Perspective –Direct your and your colleagues’ attention to these areas whenever you’re ideating to make improvements: individuals and groups within or outside your organization, your organization and others’, you and other communities, territories, countries, and regions, as well as the world at large. Look for both differences and similarities among these categories of global awareness.
- Apply New Awareness – Utilize the newfound information as you address all of your organization’s needs both internally and externally. Ultimately, you will find that you have improved your ability to make strategically advantageous decisions overall.
Finally, consider how building a culture of global awareness within your organization multiplies opportunities and advantages. Engage internal and external stakeholders in practical yet simple activities like shared weekly lunch meetings to encourage discussion about news stories, inventions, or cultural practices. Use these topics to trigger ideation that enhances product/service development, operations, alliances, technology usage, plans, innovation and more, regardless of whether your organization is multinational, international, or local.
* **From the book Paid to THINK: A leader’s toolkit for redefining your future. To obtain a free download of these tools, visit www.paidtothink.com/downloads.
David Goldsmith, president of the Goldsmith Organization LLC, is an international consultant and advisor, speaker, telecast host, author of Paid to Think and business owner. He has served on the New York University faculty for twelve years and was awarded the SCPS Teacher Excellence Award. David holds an MBA from Syracuse University.