Think Global, Understand Local, Act Global!

glocal(Originally posted 06.Mar.2011 on my old blog)

Whereas most people tend to stick to the old cliché of Think Global – Act Local, I’ve always been a strong advocate of Think Global, Understand Local, Act Global.

This group I worked for wanted to Operate and Act globally, yet didn’t want to invest any time whatsoever preparing the team to Think Global and Understand Local. Those who saw the benefit, and cared, really made an effort and tried to make a difference. Those who pretended to care, well…that’s it, they pretended!

And then this:

I got a call from an ex-colleague in Kazakhstan, in a panic, asking me what to do as she was getting no response from my ex-team in the US.

I thought: I no longer work there…why should I care? I care because I loved my work and this is someone I was mentoring. I offered to stay in touch after I’d left, and she did. I’m glad she felt comfortable enough to call me, given the cultural norms.

Two days later I had another call, this time from an ex-colleague in the US. Also in a panic, asking me what to do as she too was not getting any response from the team in Kazakhstan. Since I’d worked extensively with the team in RoK (Republic of Kazakhstan), could I help them understand why they were facing such challenges?

Despite spending a considerable amount of time on “knowledge transfer calls”, highlighting the importance of partnering, relationships and understanding local challenges before acting, it all appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Hence missing my work, not my job.

So, for any organisations, or any individuals for that matter, here’s some food for thought:

Think Global: if that’s what they want to be, organisations need to think, live, breathe global. It should be part of their DNA, their Culture, not just a good looking globe on their website or strap-line on the brand. The People need to understand it, believe in it and promote it.

Understand Local: before starting to operate locally around the world, organisations should invest time in understanding the locations where they intend to operate or offer their services/products. Get to know the cultural norms, the people and talk to those who’ve been there before.

Act Global: act and operate in an integrated and consistent way, with clear communication channels, taking into account the global thinking and local understanding.

Never under estimate the power of “glocal”.

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